Hiking and Life’s Connection

Highs and Lows of Life and hiking
Even reaching the top of a hike doesn’t guarantee a view

Week 25 – The parallels of life and hiking

First up – special thanks to Wings Herbal Synergy for sponsoring me with supplements to keep my legs and body in the best health possible. Amazing because they didn’t want a big announcement about it, they are doing it simply because they believe in what I’m doing and want to help. Huge respect to them for that.

Whether hiking or living; you’ll experience highs and lows. The only difference between the two: hiking generally starts at the bottom for you to climb up.

Some days though, you can start extremely high. Recently though, my day started as close to the bottom as you can get with the news of my dear friend Joshua’s death.

Week begins with high and low

Monday the 18th is my grans 94th birthday and Joshua’s funeral in Melbourne. It’s one of those crazy days where you feel two opposite emotions simultaneously.

My gran and family still live in Johannesburg and this is now the longest I’ve gone without seeing her. She’s unable to travel so I’ll only see her again when I’m finished with climbing Table Mountain 365 times this year. I miss her.

Speaking to her before my hike, I can hear the sparkle in her voice as she sat comfortably in her new chair that had arrived earlier. A comfy lazy boy with massage function. Its great to hear her voice and it always leaves me incredibly grateful that at age 38, I have the privilege to speak to her still. Especially on a hard day like this.

Memorial hike

I promised Joshua’s mom and brother I’d hike at the same time his funeral and wake took place so in some small way, I could be ‘present’ from across the oceans. Fittingly, the weather is glum and overcast, almost as if the weather was mourning with us. I took a candle with me to light and sit with his rock. I picked up one on the day of his death to honour him. High winds meant the cable car wasn’t working and I hiked back down.

I chose to sit quietly on Ubuntu rock with the candle fluttering next to ‘Josh’. Amazingly – Ubuntu rock had not a breath of wind for the candle to burn uninterrupted. There we sat. As if inside a cloud, on one of the most recognised mountains in the world. Honouring a beautiful soul that now lives inside all of us that knew him.

He had endured such tragedy this year and I will forever be grateful for his incredible support for my project. I take solace knowing that he found some peace.

With the last quarter of the hike left, the biggest rain drops I can remember since running around in our garden as a child, descended on me. I tried to capture it in a photo to no avail. Felt like the last perfect send off to Josh. Lifting my face up, I felt rain against my face for the first time. Usually the peak of my cap and hood of my jacket serve to shield my face. It was the type of experience I would have jumped on to Whatsapp to tell him about because I knew he’d appreciate that.

Fittingly, the 365 Ubuntu Climbs shirt he wore with such pride went with him.

We all miss you my friend.

My friend Joshua crook supporting 365 Ubuntu Climbs

A break in the weather

In 34 days I’ve only had a view from the top 13 times. In the past 11 days, once. One of the greatest lessons to date is understanding that there’s no bad weather; just bad preparation. Thanks to Cape Union Mart and their brand K-Way – I’m prepared, and I’m kept warm and dry which translates into safe.

The rain pants in particular, are amazing. The day Josh passed I made the mistake of not wearing them and a serious downpour happened in the first twenty minutes. Now they’re on even  if there’s a remote chance of rain.

Rain is glorious news and I get excited every time for it. We’re in the grips of one of the worst droughts Cape Towns had in a century. Our dams collectively, have just squeaked past the 40% full mark. This is why I said at the beginning of the year I hope to hike in rain for 200 days.

You’re probably thinking “Whaaaaaaaaat?!?! Hiking in the rain is dangerous surely??” I think the mountain is more dangerous on clear warm days than on windy rainy days; because people think it’s a playground and don’t pay enough attention and respect to the mountain. Many rocks are slippery even without being rained on. Being in nature requires presence, in every moment and step. I believe injuries come from two things: fatigue and lack of respect.

Even today as I start my 176th hike this year, I pretend it’s my very first one. Every step is closely monitored, and I even check to see what rocks have changed position, look loose and are cracking open/off.

It’s a gift being on the mountain around the time of these storms passing through. To see the mountainside alive and water flowing in the most unexpected places is phenomenal. Summer hikers would walk past without ever thinking twice about a waterfall. What a privilege to get to experience it in every way.

My latest understanding

I was given an opportunity to speak to the South African Property Investors Network (SAPIN) again on day 171 having spoke on day 73. This gave me a unique opportunity to gauge who’d heard me speak then and whether they thought I’d be back having not missed a day on my quest to complete 365.

I admire their honesty, pretty much all of them said no.

I always knew most people would think that way and the only way to build trust is to keep doing what I’m doing. People watch your actions more closely than your words – and rightly so.

I’ve come across many talkers proclaiming to support, and they disappear into the distance like a tumbleweed blown across the desert floor.

These talks give me a great opportunity to share the purpose of climbing a mountain daily: to show the power we have as individuals and collectively when we stand together.

Why donate money at all? Well – having been involved in various projects since my high school days with King Edwards and their KESFAM drives, I can tell you there’s nothing like seeing the gratitude in the eyes of those you empower.

Just because we’re not responsible for others suffering, doesn’t mean we can’t be part of the solution to help them.

I don’t believe in charity – that involves keeping people out of their own power. Working with Habitat for Humanity; One Heart and The Sunflower Fund means we collectively empower those we help to take ownership of their lives.

Empowering those without the means to empower themselves now.

Speaking on Wednesday I realised that most people look at themselves as a Mt Everest of donating. In other words, it must be large sums of money to be meaningful. What they don’t realise is that even Mt Everest isn’t just one mountain: its made up of thousands of individual stairs from base to summit; each stair as important as the next.

Think of yourself as a stair to someone else’s Everest.

If every South African gave me R1 – we’d raise R56 million.

If 50 000 Capetonians donated R30 a month (not even 2 coffees) we’d raise R1.5 million a month

Ask the 2.5 million people in the UK that didn’t bother voting on the Brexit issue if they still feel their vote wasn’t important.

Our power lies in our collective efforts. Don’t ever say “I can only give….” Because your act of giving has the potential to change another human beings’ life.

Just ask each of 365 Ubuntu Climbs donors whether they thought they’d:

  • Add 20 people to the donor registry and potentially save 20 fathers, 20 mothers, 20 friends lives impacting all their families, friends and colleagues;
  • Help two of the largest primary schools in the country teach thousands of children to read and track the children’s progress
  • Help 10 families improve their living conditions to feel safer, warmer and drier.

And we not even half way yet.

Final thought for the week

My 300th climber to join me was Iona this past Saturday and her takeaway was Ubuntu rock and the accumulation of love that makes the walk into a prayer of love, hope and connection.

It was the first time I’ve asked for feedback like that and what an incredible answer to get first up.

Why? Because its what this is all about summed up perfectly. Life’s shorter than you imagine, don’t waste it living in fear. I promise you – I’ve never been more inspired by how much good there is in this world with all the people I’ve met thus far and through all the donations received.

I’m grateful to each and every one of you. Creating a better world requires active citizenry. As Gandi said – be the change you wish to see in the world.

Try it – I’ve never been more fulfilled in my life.

See you on the mountain

Andrew Patterson is hiking Table Mountain every day in 2018 (175/365 completed thus far) to build homes; teach children to read and build a database for Leukaemia. To become part of the Ubuntu Family (ubuntu is the spirit of humanity and compassion towards one another) head over to http://www.365climbs.com share your contribution.