November 17, 2016

Weathering the Storm: A Rooftop Camping Adventure with Nicole Eddy and Ben Brown

When their first campsite was rained out Nicole Eddy and Ben Brown used a little technology to steer toward the camping spot of a lifetime in South Africa.

The windshield wipers flung at full speed fighting the downpour on the steep, winding single track ahead.

My boyfriend, Ben, and I had decided on a whim to pack up the car and go camping for the night, but a massive storm and a flooded campsite later, we found ourselves in quite the Cape Town dilemma.

There we were, scouring Google Maps for a mountain sanctuary suitable for camping. We set our sights on a camping symbol which was situated on what appeared to be one of the higher points in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, a short one hour drive out of Cape Town. We dropped a pin on the symbol and proceeded to follow the voice that spoke to us from the phone speaker.

We arrived just as the sun was setting behind the mountains and the temperature was starting to drop. The dark gray and black clouds above showed no sign of mercy as the rain continued to pound the earth, and the wind swayed our car from one side to another.

We rounded the bend and approached an unmanned gate that gave way to an unassuming 4×4 singletrack.

All commentary concerning the legitimacy of our excursion was drowned out to the grumbling gears of our car and the bumpy earth below. The mountain was shrouded in low clouds and bone-dry streams began to flow with life-giving waters. Pools started to form underway and bustle with excitement.

Darkness crept in as black as the abyss beside our driver’s side window, but we ventured up the road by the flash of our headlights. Even atop the mountain our world shrunk to the few feet we could see before us.

White-knuckled and weary, we approached the end of the road signified by a lonesome stone hut that contained dormitories for school outings and overnight climbers. Deciding that it was too spooky to sleep in, we mustered the energy to brave the winds and rain to pitch our rooftop tent.

La Sportiva hiking shoe with GORE-TEX® SURROUND® Product Technology

Exhausted, we opted for cold quiche, layered our clothing, kicked off our hiking shoes and retired to our sleeping bags and feeble attempts at rest as the wind slapped our tent through the night.

We awoke in the early hours of the morning to a surprising calm. We unzipped our tent, peeked our heads through the opening and sat, bundled up, in utter amazement.

nicole eddy campsite

The storms retired to a massive supermoon so big and bright it looked as though if we stretched our arms far enough, we could reach out and touch it.

I had never seen the night sky shine so bright before. Still in a confused daze, we clumsily climbed down from the ladder of the tent and gazed for miles around. Whitewater blew on the dams far below, there were farmhouses and vineyards, mountains around us as clear as day, and for the first time, we could see bits of the winding road that led us here.

Mr. Ben Brown hiking

We climbed back to bed and let the crickets sing us to sleep.

As we sipped our hot coffee in the morning light, we began to gather our bearings. It appeared that Google Maps had led us to the finish, or perhaps the start of a multiple day hiking trail, hence the overnight hut that stood before us.

rooftop tent camping

Frogs croaked noisily while lizards basked on nearby rocks and trickling streams snaked through the reeds. We ambled onward to a dirt hiking track that led us deeper into the mountains. We relished the quiet, content with adventure and the happenstance that brought us there.

We laughed that our efforts to spend a day off the grid were salvaged by a small icon on a fancy piece of technology that helped us weather the storm and land the campsite of a lifetime.

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