Even the most Iconic mountain in the world is part of a trio.
The culmination of April see’s us complete a third of the year.
As I write this, I’ve completed 122 consecutive days hiking up Table Mountain. This gives me a unique opportunity to explore the 3’s that have followed me through the experience to date.
3 MONTHS WITH 3 FULL DAYS HIKING
When I was training last year, my thoughts wandered to “but what happens when people who join aren’t as fit and take an extra 1-2 hours longer?”
I’m almost ashamed to admit that I had plans to have cut off points and politely excuse myself as I continued without them.
Thankfully, sense prevailed.
I quickly realised on the mountain the value of the conversations and an old army saying (even though I never went) rang true: leave no one behind.
The important thing to realise here, is when I was on my own that’s exactly what it was about: me.
When 365 Ubuntu Climbs started, the focus was no longer on me; it was about the people we can empower. Building homes; building a database for Leukemia; building childrens minds by teaching them to read.
The irony is that even with the slower hikes, the longer months (January March and April) have still only yielded a full 3 days of hiking (and some change).
This means everyone who joins has invested in our idea with both time and money.
That deserves every ounce of respect. These are perfect examples.
Craig, having traveled with work almost two weeks away from home, was delayed for three hours on his flight back the night before our planned hike from Durban (2 hour flight): and still joined at 06:30 on a Sunday morning. No excuses.
Jessie, flew half way around the world from San Francisco to support me and hike up seven times in eight days; including the very next day after landing. No excuses.
Lisa, has hiked up with me 13 times; early mornings, cold, and on the second windiest day of the year to date. No excuses.
My sister Caroline, has adrenal fatigue and an under active thyroid. Truth be told, probably should never have climbed with me. Her commitment, willpower and sheer determination to support me pushed her up that mountain. She made it up on day 62. No excuses.
Each of my family members that hike up with me get to choose a rock to represent them. This I keep on Ubuntu rock (13% of the way left to go) and with about 50 stairs left till Ubuntu rock and utterly exhausted – she chose what is now lovingly referred to as ‘MF Rock’. Yup – that’s exactly what MF stands for.
It’s this type of commitment you can’t foresee when you have ideas and why it’s so important to follow your gut when an idea sits well. It’s why doing what you love can only bring you rewards you never dream of. Seeing others put themselves outside their own comfort levels in aid of others? Priceless.
3 TIMES WATCHING THE FULL MOON RISE ON TABLE MOUNTAIN
A blue moon is when we have two full moons in a calendar month.
I watched on the 31st January (second full moon in Jan and first Blue moon month of 2018); the 31st March (second blue moon month in one year – hasn’t happened since 1999 and won’t happen again until 2037) and on the last day of April: the end of my first third of hiking up Table Mountain 365 times (which is why this is even more appropriate)
I’ve wanted to watch the full moon rise at the top of Table Mountain since day one, but my first time relentless wind meant the cable car wasn’t working and I had to hike back down, so watched on my own half way down Platteklip Gorge to avoid hiking in the dark – where I found my January rock.
January’s second full moon April Rock, March, February and January Rock
March fell over Easter Weekend and I was joined by two special people, Jaclyn and Avril. What I love most about being accompanied up is the fascinating conversations shared about each others experiences in life.
Up top was insanely busy. Intent on not waiting in a mammoth queue, Jaclyn and I hiked back down to my previous spot where, in the ever increasing icy wind, we sat mesmerized by the full moon rising into the dark sky. Our journey to Winter responsible for the darker moon rise.
The 3rd one, Monday the 30th April, was finally at the top. With perfect weather conditions to catch the cable car down, Imogen and I (having lost 3 of our companions) settled up top to enjoy this natural wonder. With the sun setting even earlier, unaware people left around sunset (18:05) and missed the spectacle of seeing the beautiful full moon rising like the sun, while darkness shrouded us above the twinkling city.
3 RAINY DAYS IN ONE WEEK
I always knew this was coming.
Like mid year exams looming in the distant future.
I’m exceptionally happy about the rain. We desperately need it – our dams are collectively sitting at 20% full. I’d be happy to hike in 200 days of rain – its all about mindset and dressing correctly plays a massive role in this.
I’ve been blessed to have Cape Union Mart (a South African outdoor, hiking, camping – gear and equipment store) come on board as a sponsor. This means they’ll help me stay dry, warm and safe. It was serendipitous that our meeting happened the day before I hiked up in complete mist (which is as good as being in fine rain) and the week before it rained three times.
The rain means the mountain transforms into a winter wonderland of sound and sight as waterfalls appear in places summer hikers would never conceive of. I consider it a great honour to bear witness to these changes that happen hourly as water collects higher up and rushes towards the ocean, as if in its own ‘rush hour traffic’.
This was highlighted on my second rainy day hike when, after a thunderstorm hit us between 3 and 5am, I expected a bigger rush of water at the start of the hike. Strong winds up top meant the cable car wasn’t operational and so I hiked back down; frozen hands dreaming about the gloves I’ll get from Cape Union Mart for just such future days.
Thankfully, my parents sponsored me a proper K-Way rain jacket last year already. When it started raining on the way down I was even more grateful. Well, I say rain, but I didn’t see any water falling to earth. It was more like precipitation seated in Airline Cloud traveling up Platteklip gorge. It was blowing directly into my face. Already warm from ascending 760 vertical meters and on my way back down I felt life flowing through me as life happened all around me.
Every step was as careful as though stepping onto thin cut glass. My Barefoot hikes perfect training for this as I become completely mindful in every step, and lost to anything else happening.
I’m alone on the mountain and I feel absolute peace. Bliss. Gratitude.
Some tourists have started hiking up (with appropriate gear, which is a first) and have just made it to half way as the rain and wind picks up. They turn back wisely, and I see them up top the mountain on day three – ironically also a misty and cold day with rain.
Day three the cable car, however, is working and cold soaked hikers fill the wifi lounge huddled around coffee cups.
Mervi, all the way from Holland with her husband, had heard about me through a friend and pushed on through the rainy bit to experience Table Mountain in a way most people avoid. Her smile at the end echoed her understanding of what she had just achieved.
Once again, the weather had been incorrectly ‘predicted’ and rain slammed into our faces at the top. Having hiked back down the previous day my heart sat heavy at the prospect of the cable car being closed. This wasn’t in the script for Mervi’s hike up and, conscious of time, hoped it worked for them to do more exploring in Cape Town. Thankfully, that wasn’t a problem and we were able to enjoy a fantastic lunch at The Roundhouse where they spoiled me.
Here’s to the next 122 days
For the first time in my life, I’m creating my own adversity instead of waiting for it to happen to me. Reading this and my previous blogs this year gives you a snippet into the support I receive to make this possible.
I’m not doing this alone.
This happens because of my family, close friends, new friends and even strangers messages on social media’s support. Together we understand that this is about a greater purpose: empowering those without the means to empower themselves (yet) – this is how I’ve climbed over 366 000 stairs.
Never underestimate the power your positive words of encouragement has on the recipient.
This post is dedicated to all the people that have donated and the 215 people that have hiked up with me to date. Together we are making Madiba proud.
Andrew Patterson has embarked on an ambitious project in 2018 to climb Table Mountain 365 times. This is all in aid of raising money and awareness for three organizations:
The Sunflower Fund – building a database for Leukemia
Habitat for Humanity – building homes for those living in poverty
One Heart – helping under resourced schools teach children to read.
To pledge your support and invest in this project visit: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/365-ubuntuclimbs