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There is something about hiking up a mountain that makes conversations flow easier, laughter become louder and a hard boiled egg taste much better than it does on the ground. Hiking Devil’s Peak today marked my completion of Cape Town’s main 3 peaks: Lionshead, Table Mountain, and Devil’s Peak. While Shreyas, Michaela, and Zack knocked out all three peaks in one day, I am actually glad that I took my time completing them, each with a different group of people. Okay, maybe I am a little jealous that I didn’t do the 3 peak challenge, but they took the gondola down so it doesn’t even count 😉

We did our first hike up Lionshead on the first weekend we were in Cape Town with almost the entire group. Some people had grown up hiking, one person in our group runs marathons, and some people had never hiked in their lives, making for an interesting journey. I genuinely think hiking is the best group test because everyone falls into their own role; one person is running up the rocks like a mountain goat, someone packed a hundred snacks to eat at the top, someone’s snapping photos, and someone is posing philosophical questions to distract everyone from thinking about how far we have left to go. On a mountain, everyone shares a common goal. Afterwards, everyone can look back and be proud of what they have accomplished, even if there were moments when they didn’t think it was possible.

My second hike up Table Mountain was with Bennett, after work on a Friday. It was a perfect day, the sun was beating down on our backs as we got to climb under waterfalls and over streams and boulders. The way down was a little more death defying. While we were going to take the cable car down, the line for it was about 2 hours long, so we decided to take the most direct route down. Note to future Duke-Engagers: bad bad BAD idea. The sign reading “this is not the easy way down” didn’t discourage us; we felt fearless even as the sun was setting. But when the sun started to get low, I definitely got scared. We weren’t even halfway down yet and I basically had to half rock-climb, half scoot on my butt down the steep parts as fast as I could. There were definitely positive moments, however. I have never felt as close to anyone as I did to Bennett in those precarious moments; I would dangle my legs over the rocks as he would direct me where to put each foot after he had already effortlessly scaled the walls. We got to see one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen from 3,500 feet above sea level, and of course we made it down alive right as it became pitch black.

My last peak was today, with another big group of people. It was definitely challenging but it was my favorite one yet because of how hard I laughed the entire time. Conversations flow so easily when all you have to think about is putting one foot in front of the other and no one is on their phone or distracted. I don’t know if our jokes were actually that funny or if everything just seemed funnier because of the situation we were in, but I laughed until my stomach hurt.

I know that everyone doesn’t have the ability to go hiking, or the time to go hiking, but I think everyone can benefit from going on a hike. Whether it be with people you know, or people you have just met, I think everyone can take something meaningful away from going on a hike. And don’t forget to bring a hard boiled egg!