Behind the Photo: Above the Clouds


This wasn’t the type of morning where you wake up before the alarm. It was 5am and that loud, annoying alarm tone that we all know so well, shocked me out of deep sleep. I’d been out early every morning that week to watch the sunrise around Cape Town, but, today was the big one. I was finally heading up the Lion’s Head to see the city from above.

It was still pitch black when I got into the car and started the short drive to the Lion’s Head hiking trail.

As I sleepily climbed out of the car and looked up at the path, I realised it was a lot steeper than it had looked a couple of days ago. I can’t say I didn’t have second thoughts! But, as usual, I convinced myself that it was going to be worth it.

I made my way up the path which was steep but somewhat steady, dare I say easy, most of the the way up. At the beginning you curve around the back of the mountain and look out over the Twelve Apostles and Cape Point. Another stunning view.


As you curve back around the peak, Cape Town should start coming back into view. On this occasion, however, a huge bank of cloud decided to rush in from the ocean and obscure any view of anything! It had poured in with the morning breeze and as I reached the front of Lion's Head, I had to use my imagination to believe that the city was really down below me.

Surely I didn't drag myself out of bed to climb up into the clouds!?

As I got nearer to the top, I was met by a set of chains and handle bars that you have to clamber up to finish off the hike. With sleepy eyes and aching arms I somehow managed to pull myself up and over, wondering again whether it would be worth the effort.


A few more steps up and I was at the summit. As I turned to look back where I'd come from, I saw one of the most stunning views I think I will ever see. While I had been struggling to climb up the chains, I'd come up from the bank of clouds and now stood above them on top of Lion's Head. It felt like I’d climbed into heaven! I sat down, exhausted, but content. It’s always worth it.

I remind myself of this moment throughout life’s many seasons.

Sometimes we are walking through life, determined to get to the top of our own personal mountains, and just as we think we’re about to make it, we’re hit by a roadblock. The clouds roll in and we can’t see what’s in front or behind us. We can often forget the victories that we’ve already experienced and start to lose hope of there ever being a summit to our situation. In those moments it’s easy to turn back. Or maybe just stay where you are. We think maybe it just wasn’t the time, we’ll try another day, we’re tired anyway! But on this early morning in Cape Town, South Africa, I discovered another option. To keep walking. To push on. To not miss out on something special just because I didn’t try.

Just keep walking. The clouds will pass. The summit is above you. Just a few more steps.

Keep moving until you get above the clouds.

Hover over the image and click save to share on Pinterest.

Hover over the image and click save to share on Pinterest.


Above the Clouds is the first entry in a new blog series where we’ll take you behind the photo, sharing the backstory behind some of Joshua’s most famous images. This photo from Cape Town, South Africa, is available to download for free on Unsplash. It has been viewed over 14 million times and has over 200 thousand downloads.

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