When Winnie Grobbelaar was 39- years-old and six months pregnant she tried to scale Dune 7.
Back then she only managed to climb up halfway and was pushed the rest of the way. She apparently rolled back down.
Almost 42 years later, the determined Flamingo Vlei resident went back to Walvis Bay to finish what she started.
This time the 81-year-old great-great grandmother became one of the oldest people to climb the 130 meter high sand dune.
The younger onlookers willed her on every step of the way. “C’mon Aunty Winnie! You can do it Aunty Winnie!”
She took a moment to catch her breath when she reached the spot where she gave up so many years ago.
She looked back proudly at how far she has come this time and stole a steely glance at the intimidating peak.
“The children just ran up! And I really wanted to join them at the top,” she told TygerBurger during a recent interview.
“People wanted to give me a hand on my way up, but I just said ‘No, no, no, no! I must do it all by myself!’ And made it she did!
According to her the feeling of achievement was indescribably euphoric.
She didn’t let her age stand in her way of seeing the desert from above.
Winnie did not walk down herself. Where she rolled down belly-and-all so long ago, she was this time pulled by her legs.
She fondly remembers looking up once she reached the bottom and seeing the long trail her backside made in the dune.
Not every one could identify with her resolve though.
“My son-in-law preferred to sit under a tree at the bottom and watch us. When I asked him later if he saw me he just said: ‘You’re a mad fool!’,” she continues with a childlike giggle.
She adds that her late husband, Garth, probably looked down from heaven thinking his wife had lost her marbles.
“A couple of policemen must have heard about this crazy woman and also made their way to the dune. When I reached the bottom they walked up to me a shook my hand! They were so surprised.”
Winnie went to Walvis Bay with a few family members by boat as a surprise birthday gift.
On her way back most of the passengers continuously congratulated her.
The first time she felt she pushed her body maybe a tad too far was much later when she was back in her home. Her legs, feeling weak, could not support her in the bathroom and she fell right into the tub. There she lied a few minutes, unable to get up, and just thought about how wonderful the desert looks from above.
Winnie laughs wholeheartedly when TygerBurger suggests she should climb Table Mountain next, or even Kilimanjaro!
She admits however that her climbing days are now over. Winnie will nonetheless continue to leave impressions, such as the trail down Dune 7, on people’s hearts.
The enthusiastic Flamingo Vlei lady has too much sparkle to go quietly into the night.