Wednesday, November 18, 2009

around town/cape town: Climbing Lion's Head.

I really don't like workouts. My own mother goes to the gym just about every day, while I haven't visited one since I made a brief effort in college. More than the actual physical labor, I just really get bored with monotonous routines, repeated reps of the same dull activity. But when you eat like I do (last night's burgers and chocolate buttercream cake a good example) you have to do something. Thankfully, we've got Lion's Head.

Lion's Head is not only an iconic figure of the Cape Town landscape, it's also Cape Town's most attractive gym, where both local citizens and visiting travellers gather on the trail. It might be the ideal workout. The rocky path requires concentration, so it always stays interesting. And rather than spending that time in the sealed-off space of a gym, that time is spent connecting to the city in a very physical way.

We try to get up early (very early, the closer we get to the middle of summer), so that by the time the sun rises and starts heating the city, we're already it most of the way up the hill. The path circles the whole of Lion's Head once, so along the way it looks out over all the corner's of the city. We can peer down at the seaside villas of Camp's Bay, still sleeping in thick purple shadow, to the high-rises of the CBD, which have just begun to blush in the morning's light. The fynbos and flowers along the path change so much from one season to the next that the hike never gets routine or dull-- having taken a break from the hike due to the winter rains, we were surprised to find our once wide open path now crowded in with bushy shrubs and towering pink flowers. And when we reach the top, we get to have a moment to refresh in the cool breeze, to rest before starting on the way down. It's also the perfect moment to look out over the whole of Cape Town, just as the sun rises over Table Mountain and fills the city with light. It's an incredible feeling, being at the top of the city, seeing it all set out, curving below our feet.

And, hopefully, it goes some way toward making up for that cake last night.

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