AN OROPHILE’S VIEW OF THE IRON CROWN
Updated: May 27
Let me tell you about ‘our’ mountain and why I have given myself the title of Queen Orophile. An Orophile is defined as a ‘lover of mountains’ and every time I summit this imposing peak, alone or with a group of hikers and gaze off the top of Limpopo’s highest point, it fills my heart to the brim. This mountain stands sentinel over the quaint village of Haenerstburg, wearing its rocky, craggy cliff coronet that earned it the name Iron Crown. At 2124 metres above sea level, every hiker that conquers it truly feels like a king or queen looking down over a vast and magnificent kingdom.
I have climbed this mountain countless times in mist, rain, wind and then on those perfect days where the views are endless and the horizon infinite. In the summer months you could be greeted by thousands of emigrating brown-veined white butterflies that from a distance look like dancing snowflakes. In Spring, the wild proteas are in bloom dotting the mountain with bursts of pink hues, while winter highlights the rocky crags and cliffs that create the contours on the steep sections of the trail against the wheat-coloured grasslands. Over the autumn months, the farms decorated with oak and maple trees, stand out in a blaze of red and orange hues.
From the summit of the Iron Crown, in one direction you can see the majestic vastness of the Wolkberg Nature Reserve which is part of the Drakensberg mountain range, a pristine wilderness area unspoiled by mankind. As you pivot ninety degrees, you have an eagle’s eye view of Ebenezer Dam and, on a clear day you can even see the Tzaneen Dam and the mountains of the Blyde River Canyon 200km away. The summit is a magnificent wild-flowered, rocky wonderland where I have seen creatures from baboon and duiker to Steppe Buzzards and Gurney's Sugarbirds. There have been glimpses of side-striped jackal and caracal while leopard leave behind their spoor in tantalising trails.
No experience of a mountain, forest, waterfall, view or trail are ever the same and no matter which trail you walk, you will feel in that moment that it has become yours and that you truly belong there. You will question the meaning of life, you will ponder the immense vastness of the planet, you will marvel at nature. And, in the challenge of the climb, the sound of your breath and beating heart, as you have never noticed it before, will remind you how alive you truly are. The challenge of the word gravity resonates in every step you take, but you know there is a reward ahead. The breathtaking views, the silence on the slopes and the wind on your face distract you from the pain of the climb. You start encouraging fellow hikers and begin to realise that contentment and gratitude come not from money or material items but rather from all those things which money cannot buy. And, as you discover nature and yourself, you might begin to find yourself loving a mountain too.
At The Mountain Company, we arrange half and full day hikes aimed at a complete experience where the focus is on time in nature and a total disconnection from all that is materialistic and artificial back there in the ‘real’ world. We try to create an awareness not only of the synchronicity between humans and nature but also between our own heads and hearts, body and mind. We create an environment where even relatively unfit or first-time hikers feel welcome and comfortable. Our aim is to facilitate an achievement for the people that thought a hike like this would be impossible but we also pride ourselves on being thoroughly prepared for a safe hike. Our guides carry two-way radios which are linked not only to one another but also to our local neighborhood security company, police and the fire department.
We facilitate hikes on marked public trails but have mapped many routes on private properties not accessible to the public without guides. We cater for first-timers looking for a fun day out but also for the fitter, faster and more experienced hiker on the longer full-day hikes. Many ask us to take groups outside of Magoebaskloof, but we prefer to focus on the area we know, love and have a deep passion for. In this uniquely special place, we not only know what views you will like but can entertain you with stories of those that lived here long before you were born. The Haenertsburg and Magoebaskloof area has a rich and interesting history, attracting authors, artists, nature lovers and storytellers over the years.
I work to live, not live to work and follow the motto ‘Love what you do and you will never work a day in your life.’ I have been in the signage, graphics and photographic industry for more than 35 years and the Hiking fee we charge is actually for the edited photos and two to three-minute video clip compiled over many hours post-hike, sometimes late into the evening. It is here that I lose myself back into the world I walked with hikers, having shared my unique energies with strangers that have become friends. Although my interests and activities are diverse, my greatest passion lies in the visual story a photograph can tell - to capture a moment or a view is much more inspiring to me than the man-made world. I spent my youth chasing medals and stop watches, triathlon events, gym sessions, aerobics and fitness competitions, running and cycling races. I went everywhere fast and, in hindsight, missed out on the little things, the really meaningful moments. Better late than never, I have found my joy in the great outdoors… going slowly, with gratitude and appreciation. Climb a mountain or saunter on a forest trail with us and we will inspire the orophile in you.
Connect with The Mountain Company on 082 441 8088 |email@example.com