The current storm crossing SA has brough with it some impressive weather – all sorts of warning and alerts are out for strong winds and 10+m swells. Close to home, Signal Hill on the NW side of Table Mountain is a favourite flying site for the north-westerlies, but not today. Note the 110km/h gust 😉
…in an initiative/competition run by Garmin. They are looking for stories of how people “Live Beyond” in various categories – outdoor, fitness, automotive, marine and aviation. I’ve entered our Cape Point paramotor flight in the aviation category, and now need votes. Click here to visit and vote for my entry at LiveBeyond.co.za
While you’re at it, why not add your own?
Readers will have noted that the blog has been down for a couple of days. There was a problem with one of the mail accounts on the hosting server being hijacked by a spambot, which resulted in the entire host account being suspended. Fortunately this has now been resolved. You can follow @rosshofmeyr on Twitter in case of further problems – I will keep you updated.
We Hof’s are fairly well known to be difficult to pin down w for too long: the call of the wild is too strong to resist. My younger brother Stephen (not to be confused with the singer of the same name) is no exception. Although he is often to be found tweaking a PC or other gadget for it’s last speck of performance, he’s an accomplished outdoorsman in his own right. We share a love of mountaineering and the backcountry, and he takes great pleasure in reminding me that he has bested my highest climb (sans aircraft) when he summited Kilimanjaro.
Steve has taken some time off now to lose (or find?) himself in the wilderness, and in searching for a suitable challenge discovered the Pacific Crest Trail in the USA. The PCT covers more than 2600 miles (4200km) as it traverses wilderness areas right up the west coast of the USA from the border with Mexico to Canada. It’s more than just a walk in the park; around 300 hikers set out each year to complete the full distance, and only half make it all the way. Click on the small map image for much more detail.
Steve is blogging his experiences on the trail whenever he stumbles across a campsite with any form of internet access (much of it written on his Kindle, believe it or not!), which allows a lot of insight into the mindset of the lone thru-hiker. He’s currently hunkered down in a shared hotel room in a place called Idylwild due to an unexpected 8-inch snowstorm. Go check it out on SteveHof.com
PS – You can subscribe to either of our blogs by entering your email address in the “Subscribe by Email” field on the right-hand-side of the screen – that way, you’ll receive instant notification of new posts to the blog without having to keep checking. It’s also great for us to see the subscriber list grow and know you’re interested!
Short story (longer one to follow): I was joined this morning by a fellow powered hang-glider pilot for a sortie from Hout Bay, on the western coast of the Cape Peninsula. Due to my current lack of a PHG, I was flying my PPG while he took to the sky in a Zee PHG trike of South African construction (more on that in a later post). We flew high most of the time to avoid some turbulence from the low-level south-easter, but not too high to notice this in the water near some surfers and kayakers off Long Beach, Noordhoek:
According to an expert I consulted, it is exceptional to spot a whale shark anywhere on the West Coast, and the specimens that are found are usually dead. One theory is that they drift around in warm eddies of the Mozambique Current and then become “lost” and die when the warm water dissipates. I think they are like my mother, and only dive in warm water.
For some time I have been watching a trend emerge; a meme and theme that resonates within me. Recently I’ve witnessed it progress from conception to creativity concrete reality, and now the evidence abounds. While I inevitably and unavoidably turn to the wilderness to find my peace and beauty, I am grudgingly but increasingly forced to admit that it can be found closer to home. What am I harping on about? Parkour.
Parkour has been around for a long time, but has emerged so gradually into our modern lexicon that most people can’t remember first seeing it. That it has become embedded in our culture is inarguable: compare a classic Connery era Bond movie with the latest Craig incarnation and you will see realise the significance. Although originally based on the undeniably Francophone principles of simplicity and elegance of movement, even true parkour traceurs will no doubt admit that the interpretation of movement through the environment enouraged by the offshoot ‘free running’ enrich and enhance the activity. To me, parkour/free running embodies an innate urge to embrace our wildness, and is a natural expression of human animals seeking fulfilment within the bounds created by an urban environment.
There are plenty of examples of individuals aspiring to “GoPro/YouTube Hero” status out there in the internet ether, but I am recently and deeply encouraged by the emergence of films that not only celebrate the athleticism and courage of the participants but also the beauty to be found in the concrete jungle: the urban fringe not distant on the basis of distance itself but rough through it’s edginess rather than just being on the edge. You are familiar with the concept: often the most innercity and developed areas are the least human. Despite this, the traceurs and cinematographers have brought movement, life and fluidity to our most stale structures; flow in our concrete fondament. I myself am trapped in a daily cycle of urban living, longing for the release and vibrancy of the wild; when I watch this breed of film I am renewed by the wild beauty to be found in our ‘tamed’ surrounds.
Is this a sport, a lifestyle… or our newest and most visceral form of dance?
If you’re a regualr reader (or an observant occasional one) you’ll have noted that I have been adding some changes and upgrades to this blog in the last few weeks. This is partly because I am a card-carrying gadgetologist (*grin*), but mostly because I am trying to keep riding the wave of ease of online media. People want to have everything fed directly to their cortex in a continous stream, and be able to tweet, FaceBook (when did that become a verb?) and share effortlessly. However, the essence – of simplicity and something interesting to read – is something I’m at pains to retain. To balance this equation, I need some empiric data: your comments!
I’ve integrated the following recently:
- Search function – top right and easy to spot from any page
- Easier link to the galleries – mindless viewing pleasure
- Email subscription function – new posts direct to your inbox!
- Streamlined sharing, direct-to-email and direct-print links at the bottom of each post
- Twitterfeed for those spontaneous thoughts and images
Behind the scenes, I’ve upgraded the blog’s engine and post archiving system, which should make it quick and easy to use. There is also now a mobile interface, so you an read the blogin a pared-down form on your smartphone. It is difficult for me to assess these changes and especialy compatibility across platforms , however, so I really do need your comments and insights. Try the links, subscribe via mail, rant, enthuse or complain – I welcome it all!
My delightful and talented wife has been invited to present her Masters dissertation at a conference which is being held this week at a hotel bordering on the Kruger Park. To her credit, she invited me to come along, so with a week of leave in hand we flew off to Lanseria (near Johannesberg) and took a hired car into the hinterland. If you know my approach to hired cars (“They make the best 4×4’s”) you’ll already be imagining where this could take us…
Due to other commitments, Fran flew up 18 hours ahead of me, and being a sweet and doting husband I of course insisted that she take my new pride-and-joy GPS. It’s been more than five years since I had a new GPS, so I’m suitably excited about this one. (At this point, female readers are wondering what I’m on about, and the males are nodding appreciatively). In any case, I may as well go and buy another, as by the time I reached Gauteng it had a name (“Hannah” – it’s a Garmin Montana, capiche?) and has been claimed forever by my better half. True to her gentle and understanding nature, I am still allowed to program geocaches and press buttons if I ask nicely.
We have two days free time to get to Kruger and no commitments along the way. As a result, we have always been exactly where we wanted to be: wandering. Last night brought us (via various roadside stalls and geocaches) to the Blyde River Canyon, where we stayed surrounded by scores of polite, pale European tourists and perversely red-arsed baboons, in fairly equal proportions. At least the Germans and their consorts did not leave a calling card on our patio table to enhance the aroma of our morning coffee.
In the many intervening years since I last laid eyes on the Blyderivier it has lost none of its beauty, and has gained or retained an appellation I had not remembered: third largest canyon in the world. It is exceeded only by the Grand and Fish River Canyons, and is certainly the greenest of the three. What did surprise me was the quality of the surrounding attractions: either Mpumalanga Tourism or the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve has excelled in making sure that the various resorts, viewpoints and other amenities are neat, staffed and functional. They deserve much commendation, especially for the way in which (at least in appearance) the local communities have been integrated in managing and maintaining the attractions. I hope tourism in the area continues to thrive.
The road calls again; more to follow later!
Word has come to me of a team looking for a doctor for an overland traverse from the coast up to a plateau base this (southern) summer. The deployment would be approximately 3 months, with the latter half spent at a small research station. Previous expedition experience, especially polar and/or high altitude experience, as well as mountaineering skills and the ability to speak/understand German would be preferable.
I can’t go and am desperately jealous 😉 Serious inquiries only please.