Nick Dall

Change your Environment, Change your Headspace

I find a weekend away to be the ultimate catalyst for shaking off the hustle of city life and getting back to my roots as a photographer.

Between Swellendam and Barrydale, there’s a little village called Suurbraak with an amazing off the grid community filled with permanent residents and a few AirBnb units. This lesser known gem in the Overberg was established in 1812 by British missionaries and almost feels unchanged since then as there isn’t a single traffic light to be found.

We booked a place, packed our bags and headed off on the 2h30 drive from Cape Town. The drive itself is tranquil. When you exit the Hugenoot tunnel and met with the Du Toitskloof pass, you are transported to a different world. The rest of the way is a quick pass through beautiful hillside farmlands and once you’ve reached Swellendam, it’s just around the corner.

Upon arrival at Suurbraak, you have to cross a little river bridge that leads you to a bumpy and muddy dirt road lined with solar-powered cottages, horses and barking dogs.

Once settled in to our accommodation, we set out to explore. Equipped with the Hi-Tec Altitude Lite 3 Mid WP & V-Lite Shift I + W, and our jackets, Riah and I headed up the mountain, camera in hand.

The sense of calmness creeps up on you as the absence of city noises becomes a forgotten feeling. The bricks and tar have now been replaced with earth, branches and puddles as we navigate the wooded walkways.

The features of the shoes came in handy when traversing the river rocks. With the DRI-TEC waterproof, breathable membrane I was able to comfortably step in a few centimeters of water to create a few images on the river bed.

Our jackets were perfect for the weather which consisted mostly of light showers to a full down pour. With the stowaway hood out I barely noticed the rain when walking the mountain trails.

Get the Edge

Much like my camera equipment, the importance of having the right gear from a boot and jacket perspective is not to be neglected. The ability to put your foot down with confidence whether its walking through mud, hopping on river rocks or trampling over logs means you have all the more reason to explore and find the angles that bring the images to life.

Whether I’m going to Newlands forest or my nearest dog park, I always empower myself to get the best results by being prepared for anything. I have learned the hard lesson of how quickly a sneaker can get submerged or how messy muddy paw prints can be so I always dress the part so that no slip, splash or sludge can cut my adventure short or leave me thinking why I didn’t put on my Hi-Tec’s in the first place.

By: Vanartist

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