The story behind the Waking of the Giant

For years I have gazed at the beautiful mountain at Du Kloof Lodge admiring its beauty. Guests at the Lodge kept asking, “Is there a hiking trail going up this amazing mountain?”

This led to my first journey up the Sleeping Giant. We call it the Sleeping Giant, because the mountain is shaped in the form of someone lying on his back looking upwards.

The first goal was to make a short hiking trail to a nice viewpoint, but the further we went the more this sleeping giant dared us closer.

My team changed on a regular basis due to the difficulty of the task at hand, but all played their part helping to carry the beacon further and further… I personally also soon had to deal with my fears of heights.

In 2015 we reached the high point and the Sleeping Giant Hiking Trail was birthed, most people who embraced the challenge up this trail did not complete it due to its grade of difficulty.

In the winter of 2016 I woke up one morning with a burning desire to climb the Sleeping Giant to see if there was perhaps a slight chance of extending the trail to make it a circular route. With faith and hope as companions, my team and I journeyed up to uncover the Sleeping Giant to uncover more of its mysteries.

When I reached the top of the Sleeping Giant for the first time I found that one can go down a slope to a waterfall. I was gripped by fear, but curiosity guided my steps forward. To my amazement I reached the waterfall and was overwhelmed by the majestic cliffs.

I took some photos and soon realised that I had no signal, but decided to not overthink the situation and headed down the kloof.

In the distance I saw a rock (as shown in this photo taken on the day,) and felt God leading me in that direction. I also felt Him telling me not to wander to the right of the kloof. Still I went to the right to have a look at the path ahead, only to realise why I should not have done this. When I looked around the corner I saw the cliffs lying ahead. I was terrified and considered turning back.  Again I stopped myself from thinking too much and basically scrambled up the steep slope. When I reached the top I realised that I couldn’t turn back, because it was too steep and slippery. For the first time in my life I understood what people meant when they say they had a panic attack. I was petrified, and blamed my arrogance. I turned to the only thing I really knew how to do, and that was pray. I repented for being arrogant and asked God to help me get back. I really had no other option, not having any signal to call for help.

By this point I started admiring people like Columbus and so forth for having the guts to explore the unknown. My plan was to take it step by step… Every time it looked like I was going to walk straight into a cliff or a dead end the path just seemed to open up. When I got signal on my cell phone I phoned a close friend who was an experienced hiker asking advice. I felt at that moment not to call my wife, because I did not want to worry her. His first question was if  I had enough water, unfortunately I had none. He suggested that I should look for trees or a river and follow it, hoping that it won’t end in a waterfall. So that was my new plan- to struggle through the bushes toward the trees in the far distance.

I finally reached the trees, followed the empty river stream, making my way through thick bushes, but still praying! About 2 hours later I arrived at a beautiful stream. Hallelujah!!! My first goal was achieved by God’s grace. The only obstacle still in my way home was a possible waterfall or cliff that would force me to turn back. By now I had already been scrambling for 6 hours. After drinking enough water I continued waking the Giant.

By His mercy this refreshing stream led me all the way to the Molenaars River. Finally I had a bit more than hope and faith!  I walked and swam upriver back to the Du Kloof Lodge.

What an adventure it was waking this giant that I so admire today. It is one thing to read the stories of men of faith in the comfort of your bed, but when you experience the symptoms they must have experienced, you soon honour the character they must have possessed.

I started Waking the Giant at 6 o’clock that morning and only arrived back at the lodge at 2:30pm, 8 ½ hours later.

This is the story behind waking the sleeping giant. It took us another 6 months to finish the trail which definitely had its own challenges.  We did not remove all the obstacles, feeling that this forms part of the challenge. There are still slippery slopes, rocks, trees to climb under, a river to swim upwards and so forth.

The Waking Giant is only recommended for those who want to challenge themselves in every aspect- physically and mentally.

Please don’t even consider doing this hike if you’re not up to a massive challenge. I also acknowledge that everything in life is relative. The friend I called also did the hike after me and he woke the giant in less than 3 hours – humbling.

Essentials for waking the Giant:

  • Enough Water
  • Sun cream
  • Proper Hiking shoes
  • Early Morning Start
  • Waterproof bag
  • Cell phone
  • Endurance

 

By Francois Louw