Turning Dreams Into Reality ~ What the Grand Canyon Can Teach You

Life’s greatest experiences lie on the other side of overcoming challenges

We all have dreams and aspirations, but not all of us turn them into reality.

Born with varying degrees of opportunity, circumstances and resources – they act as unique challenges to overcome in order to realise our dreams. One thing we all possess though, is the capacity to make a decision to change our circumstances.

Wanting to do just that, I stumbled across Jim Rohn. As they say when the student is ready the teacher will appear. His video ‘ How To Set Goals For The Life You Want And How To Actually Achieve Them‘ details the power of writing down your goals. Goals are broken down into career, personal development, the things you want, the places to go (my focus today) and the people to meet. The aim: to tick them off and keep adding new ones. This gives you something to aim for and celebrate as you accomplish them.

This was in 2016; The Grand Canyon was 18th on my list. 3 years and some change later, words on paper become a link to one of the greatest days of my life.

This is by far my longest post, but just as the Canyon isn’t described as ‘Little’, so too would a 5 minute read do this an injustice. Get comfy as I take you on a journey.

The purpose is to develop your power by building a habit of listening to your thoughts and desires, writing them down, and taking the next step to make them come true.

If you want to 'cheat' - scroll to the bottom and see which lessons resonate with you, and apply in your own life.  

Nothing could prepare me for the Grand Canyon. Nothing.

Firstly, I need to give you some context into why this dream metabolising into reality is so meaningful.

The Grand Canyon is our third stop in two days as we embark on an epic road trip organised by Jessie. Covering 1 215km (755 miles) across Nevada, Utah and Arizona from Las Vegas to Phoenix with nothing but the best nature has to offer in between.

One epic road trip

Today’s our most adventurous by far. It starts with a 3am wake up to watch the Springbok rugby team play England in the Rugby World Cup final in Japan. It’s worth it – we beat them for our 3rd title, becoming the only team never to lose a final. You must understand though – 18 months prior we were probably at our lowest point in history. Two men’s leadership is what turned it around: The coach, Rassie Erasmus and our inspirational captain Siya Kolisi. Together they transformed a team at it lowest into the worlds best in record time.

It happens to be at the last place with WiFi to watch! We’d driven to Bryce Canyon yesterday from Zion, arriving as the sun kissed the horizon goodnight in a clear sky leaving in its wake a trail of colours melting into each other.

It’s November 2nd – and it’s freezing.

Sunrise is at 7:57 and pumped full of adrenalin there’s zero chance of going back to sleep, Jessie and I grab breakfast mercifully open at 6am. It’s all working out perfectly, giving us an hour to find a spot overlooking the canyon to enjoy the magic of sunrise.

We… are totally unprepared. The car says -11° C (12° F). The heater’s full blast but eventually we have to bite the bullet and leave our sanctuary, immediately my bodys like ‘what what WHAAAAT?!?!’

We’re 2 700m (9 0000ft) above sea level with the landscape dropping away from us. It feels like we’re on top of the world.

A cloudless sky is dotted with the final specks of stars, holding on for dear life to be seen. The horizon flickers with orange and yellow gradually burning the lilac sky as the sun is reborn.

Even the monotone dark shadow of the Canyon starts morphing into lighter shades revealing jagged monoliths rising out of the valley, as if protecting the ground running away from the rims edge.

Whatever pain we suffer thanks to the cold for this – it’s worth it. I’d balanced my phone close to the edge supported by a rock to ensure a steady time lapse video. Nature puts that adrenalin to use, a breeze picks up and blows my phone over the edge. Thankfully, I anticipated this and before Jessie even knows whats happened I’ve dived across grabbing it on its bobsled ride down. Barring almost losing my phone down the cliff, I hope this is a sign of what’s to come.

You’ll see it fall over the edge at the end 🙂

We head south across the Utah border into Arizona, spending over five and a half hours in the car covering 500km (311 miles) so we’re both thankful it’s autumn as the midday sun beats down through our windscreen.

My first clue to how unprepared I am for the sight of Grand Canyon should’ve been at Horseshoe Bend. I don’t ever recall seeing pictures of it before googling the Grand Canyon on this drive. It grabbed my attention amongst the plethora of pictures, but it never crossed my mind to check where it is.

We’d quickly stopped at Lake Powell to walk across the bridge admiring the dam wall and the river gorge. It’s already impressive, at 305m (1000ft) the Chrysler building would be devoured with just 14m of the spire visible.

It certainly gets my juices flowing, but we’re completely oblivious to the fact that Horseshoe Bend is 10 minutes away. Sometimes not having everything planned out leaves space for beautiful surprises.

The flat fifteen minute walk up to the edge does its job to erode any expectation. Geography taught me about horseshoe bends as part of river ecology, who knew I’d see THE Horseshoe Bend. Eventually the river will cut through the bend creating an oxbow lake. Just a couple more millions years I guess, it’s only taken 5 to get here.

Everything ‘missing’ below us – is thanks to the tireless carving skills of the Colorado River.

That. Blows my mind.

I’m not afraid of heights, but standing on the edge certainly gives my stomach butterflies. A boat making its way upstream to visit a group camping on the riverbank helps add scale. It’s breath taking – what an unexpected treasure!

The next three-hours is a mixture of flat lands quickly morphing into majestic twisting mountain passes. Huge shadows in the distance usually reserved for clouds reveal deep cracks in the earth – as though an earthquakes ripped it open.

Finally, we turn off the freeway towards the Parks South Rim gate. The lengthy journey’s been building my excitement to fulfill a dream born 15 543km (9 658 miles) away. Much like the walk to horseshoe bend, the drive into the park is unassuming dense with trees either side.

And then it happens.

‘Navajo Viewpoint’.

I might look calm but inside I’m like anyone ten seconds away from meeting their hero. My eyes are teased with snippets. Stepping through the trees the true scale slams into you as though opening a door to a flooded room.

It’s the kind of beauty worth traveling from distant galaxies to see. It stirs something deep inside.

One thing’s for sure, the word ‘Grand’ doesn’t do it any justice.

To put the scale into perspective – the distance from the rock of Gibraltar to Africa’s nearest point is 14km (9 miles) which is almost 4 kilometers (2 miles) LESS  than the widest gap between the north and south rim and instead of flat like the ocean textured with colour and millions of years of craftmanship. This chasm easily fits one and a half Table Mountains from Cape Town. The late afternoon sun caresses every undulation for the shadows to act as guides for our eyes.

The top of the cake is the whiteish Kaibab limestone, which gives way to a sheer wall of Coconino Sandstone of similar colour. Next the rock changes outfit to a redder colour as first the Hermit Shale dazzles your eyes before the Supai Group takes over the baton. Now it’s the Redwall Limestone having a turn before the red shade is replaced by the grey Mauv limestone. We’re getting closer to the Canyon floor as an infusion of the green, purple and browny red layer of Bright Angel Shale hooks our attention. Tapeats and Great Unconformity layers add some yellow before the lowest layer currently dancing with the river, is Vishnu Schist, a dark grey granite.

These are just a taste of the 40 layers that combine to create one of the most jaw dropping inspired moments of my life. How amazing Jessie and I are both in our 40th year seeing it for the first time together.

I’m grateful it’s so quiet too. The perfect soundtrack for this view is silence, instilling grandeur usually reserved for mountains.

In this moment, nothing but love and peace exists.

Under the Canvas

We’re still 50 minutes away from our ‘home’ for two nights, enough time for the stirred waters to settle.

We’ve already hiked 15.5km (just under 10 miles) in Zion and Bryce Canyon’s 4km ‘quickie’ was the equivalent of scaling the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco (61 flights) racking up 5 hours on our legs. We have all day Sunday to explore so we’re eager to chat to the staff to figure out what our best options are to maximise our time.

Enter Krocky, a Canyon expert and nominee for ‘Best First Impression Ever’.

Table Mountain taught me the importance of asking an experienced local the right questions. There’s already a handy guide describing route options detailing distances, elevation drop/gain, time it’ll take and difficulty levels as you can see below. My point is made with this line about attempting a rim to river hike:

If you think you have the fitness and expertise to attempt this extremely strenuous hike, please seek advice from a park ranger.

Really fantastic way of clearly describing the options

Fitness: I’ve been training like a demon possessed in San Francisco in preparation for my next challenge averaging 150 flights of stairs per day over anything from 2-3 hours. That’s almost doing Table Mountain up and down every day. As for Jessie? I watched her fly across 10 time zones and smash 6 consecutive climbs up Table Mountain. I’m not worried. She’s a machine.

Expertise: Our backpack will have food, water, space blankets, a torch, a backup charger for the phones, maps of the routes, emergency numbers, warm clothes and snacks for good measure. With sunrise at 6:52 and sunset at 17:30 a start latest 8:30 gives us a 9 hour window to finish; excluding a 30 minute twilight bonus period.

The weather looks perfect, so my biggest concern is time.

Krocky patiently listens to our detailed explanation of what we’ve done through his experienced lens of a Canyon veteran. To his credit, he’s not outright telling us not to go all the way down – he makes sure we’re being realistic about our capabilities, which I respect. I’ve seen too many people unprepared on Table Mountain putting others lives at risk not to take this seriously.

“Just so you know – when I hauled ass, I took 3 hours to get down to the river on the South Kaibab trail. It’s 4700ft drop in elevation you’ll need to climb back up, so if you do this it’s going to be one heck of a day”

Krocky had our full undivided attention, we’re grateful for his time. I quickly calculate 3 hours 30 minutes down gives us 5 hours and 30 minutes to climb up including time for breaks. I know we can climb Table Mountain in an hour – which although shorter in distance is far steeper than the Grand Canyon.

So far so good. Plus my intuition isn’t sounding any alarm bells.

“Now South Kaibab has no water on it at all – it has two bathroom stops but no water. So if you come back up that way you’re gonna need enough water to get home. You’re lucky, November’s probably the best month all year to do this. Don’t be fooled though it could be snowing at the top and 75° (24° Celsius) at the river. Use loads of sunscreen.”

We’re starting at the coldest time of the day, so if we’re warm with enough space in the backpack to shed layers later – we’re golden.

“Now if you do make it all the way down – and again I’m not recommending you do – but if you do, I highly recommend coming up the Bright Angel Trail which will finish at the Grand Canyon village. Depending on what you decide, leave your car there and catch the park bus across to the start of South Kaibab trail. Not only does this route have water points, but essentially you have a river / stream running next to you the entire time. If you run into any rangers by all means – DO NOT tell them your going all the way to the river”

Boy am I glad I ended our hike early on Friday to leave some extra gas in the tank for the legs! Krocky gives us a knowing grin.

“Be safe out there and enjoy the Canyon – you’re in for a treat”

He wasn’t lying.

A Day Steeped in Awe

Some ‘technical difficulties’ with the fire stove in our tent means we got smoked out. Opening the ‘window’ and ‘door’ flaps wide open in freezing conditions to clear it isn’t ideal. It’s only the next day, after sharing with reception what I thought was my poor fire making skills, that the manager himself checked it out and finds that the chimney’s blocked. Unfortunately, after a long day I wasn’t thinking straight which means no fire – and sleeping in freezing tent.

Jessie ends up putting on all the clothes she’d laid out to get dressed in the morning. Long johns, thermal socks, an extra t shirt and about three more layers of jackets – and she’s still cold under our duvet and blanket. I’m envious when I wake up getting changed in the cold.

We’re on target happily sipping coffee and tea warming our hands enjoying a Canyon sunrise. I don’t have the superlatives to express how warm my heart is absorbing the view.

Our plan’s simple: take it as it comes. Our intention is clear: we want to reach the river. If either isn’t sure about making the trip back in time – we’ll immediately turn around.

Under the Canvas are fantastic. They clearly listened to Jessie’s reason for our visit, a pre birthday card and drink waiting for me in our tent. Experiences are not just about what you do – it’s where you stay. Krocky set the stage for how everyone would treat us and after our phenomenal dinner – are disappointed we leave too early to enjoy breakfast. They have us covered though, we’re able to choose a packed lunch prepared fresh before we leave. Our stomachs are incredibly happy about this as both our meals are delicious. After filling our water bottles, we still buy 3L spare. It’s not predicted to be that warm, but rather safe than sorry.

We’re ready.

Parking at the ‘end’ (in case) we wait for the first bus to collect us, only two other  women with almost zero leg coverage with us. Madness! Not just any women though – trail runners. Seriously fit trail runners. They’ve completed Iron Man. Okay that explains the madness.

“You’re running it?? All the way down to the river and back up Bright Angel Trail, wow that sounds insane. How long do you think it’ll take?”

“Uuuuuuum, about 9 hours?”

Jessie and I share a look. Same route. Same hopeful time. Only we’re not running.

“How far down are you guys going?”

With Krocky’s words ringing in my ears I casually respond, ‘Oh we’re don’t know, just gonna see how we feel and decide as we go”

“Yeah that’s a good idea”

It would’ve been fun to see their faces if we told them the truth.

Once the bus drops us off, they set their watches and disappear over the rim. I’m not put off by their estimates, their time doesn’t make sense. If we hadn’t spoken to Krocky we’d probably panic. Although, I’ve learned from my runs up and down mountains in Cape Town that sometimes running wears you out so much, that the difference between power walking and running/walking can be a few minutes. Granted that’s over smaller distances but still. Maintaining a good speed power walking versus burning myself out trying to run is also far more enjoyable. Either way – we’re positive and ready to rock!

We start 3 minutes off our planned time filled with excitement and anticipation. That is, until this sign 7 minutes later:

They don’t mess around with the warning sign, do they?

“Don’t be like Victor!”

I can’t help but laugh. Especially as Jessie points out it’s not a red shirt he’s wearing! Ouch….

It seems a bit extreme, but I guess it’s here for a reason.

We quickly start understanding the scale.  Dropping down we’re able to compare the thin layer on the far northern side to whats around us. That thin line is about a 10-story building and puts the thicker lower layers into perspective, only 445 story’s to go.

Even though we start in freezing temperatures, I’m happy to be in the shade cast by the rims edge. It’s going to be a loooong day, the less we’re in the sun the better. It’s almost an hour before we emerge out of the shadows and need to shed layers.

It’s so unusual climbing down a ‘mountain’ first. It’s completely foreign to me. The path’s wide enough for mules to transport goods and people down to the Phantom Ranch which has basic rooms and only open April to October. Krocky suggested their restaurant to visit – although it will add another 40 minutes to an already arduous hike. Still, it’s good to have options.

The mules follow the opposite route, only going down Bright Angel path and up the South Kaibab trail. We’d see quite a few groups of people using this option, needing to step aside and squeeze against the cliff as they pass. Once all our warm clothes are off and in the backpack, I kind of feel like a mule myself. I laugh thinking about a mule seeing me and saying ‘I’m glad I’m not you buddy’

This trail is predominantly along the ridges, constantly giving us panoramic views to marvel. It takes us 40 minutes to reach our the first reference point on the hiking guide: the majestic vantage point aptly called ‘ooh aah’.

It’s like being on another planet. A cloudless sky highlights the stark contrast of the grey, brown and red layers capped by white icing. Can you imagine being one of the first European explorers arriving here? Crossing the great plains to suddenly arrive at this? No one back home would believe them.

Now you just type ‘Grand Canyon’ in Google and hit images to see every picture linked to that tag word ever taken. It’s not the same though. I’m grateful for that otherwise what would be the point of traveling?

There are precious few that understand what it means to connect to this place more than a day trip. There are 6 Native American tribes, Hualapai, Havasupai, Navajo, Paiute, Novi and Zuni in this region that see it very differently through a myriad of lenses. A place to be feared and respected. A harsh land but a place of opportunity. It’s inspired centuries of cultural expression. It’s sacred to them. A holy site. They share history, but more than anything, they call it home.

Kaibab is a Paiute word and means “Mountain Lying Down,” their term for the Grand Canyon. Much of the hiking trails are based on the old migration paths used by the Native Americans for centuries as they followed the rhythms of nature, and even though this route was made in 1924 – imagine what it must have been like doing this hundreds of years ago. Climbing down commands your respect and full attention and adds to the appreciation of this landscape.

Snaking along the ridge, a vast ‘plateau’ roughly halfway down is sprawled below us. It’s like a plain I imagine reams of wild animals roaming as they forage on the sparse vegetation.

Skeleton Point is our last stop in the ‘be careful’ range before dropping into the red zone. All you can do is marvel at the ‘mountain ranges’ towering above you in every direction. Natures Colosseum. It also means we’ve descended 640m and traveled 4.8km (3 miles). Next is The Tipoff a further 500m down and the equivalent of climbing down Table Mountain to sea level and already 100m back up.

Only we still have another 330m to reach the river.  

The Colorado river looks deceptively close, the turquoise green line meandering between the V shaped jagged cliffs. An Australian couple are nervously contemplating whether they should turn back. I’m grateful for Jessie’s machine like powers; we’re feeling great after 2 hours 20 minutes – comfortable we’re on track to beat sunset.

Less assured, they ask us our plans. We share Krocky’s advice, but they have no food and no warm clothes. Deciding to go the whole way, we pair up and get to chat them for the next 30 minutes down to the river. Sharing where we’re all from – they congratulate me on our win yesterday which is a nice surprise. I’ve become accustomed to few American’s knowing rugby let alone follow the World Cup. They’re on a epic journey themselves, taking three months off to do a road trip in a camper van up the west coast finishing in Canada.

Being over the river on the Kaibab suspension bridge is mind blowing. If this was Horseshoe bend, the cliffs looming above would be the rim. Now that’s the plateau with another entire ‘mountain’ to climb above that.

This is all from erosion. EROSION!! It’s astounding. It’s one thing for existing mountains to change over time thanks to weathering and gravity – this is just erosion?? Okay I suppose gravity must be given some credit too. This is an amazing display of what is possible with patience and time, never giving up and being persistent.

I wander if the dams have impacted the erosion by disrupting the natural cycles at play?

Teddy Roosevelt had the foresight to create national parks and protect the endless beauty on display. He said it best:

“I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.”

Only One Way: UP

Used to the sheer drop on Table Mountain, this climb’s  been far gentler and manageable, with pockets of steep sections zig zagging down. In contrast though, we’ve traveled 12km (7.5 miles) versus Platteklip’s 2.1km direct route. It’s taken us 3 hours 19 minutes and 11 seconds. I’m comfortable we’re within the range to enjoy a reasonable pace. I’ve had experience climbing up Table Mountain in the dark, so even IF we take longer, I know it’s far safer than if the reverse were true. You’re always stable as you place your next step to stabilise and pull yourself up.

Nevertheless, we cross back over the river on Bright Angel suspension bridge – choosing a shaded spot to eat our packed lunches, fueling the legs for the tougher second half of the journey. We watch a river raft party navigate some rapids, careful to avoid the swirling whirlpool below us.

With a moment to chill at the river, I finally grasp the Victor warning. If this was summer? I’d never make it back up in the heat of the day. Granted – with mid-summer sunsets at 19:48 you have time to start later. I’m sure there’s great places to swim for a couple of hours, but even if there’s shade – the stifling heat radiating out the Canyon must be unbearable. If I ever do this in summer, it’ll be with a night’s stay at the bottom enabling a 5am start for both to beat the heat.

The path follows the river for about 2km before it sharply turns left turn at another toilet station – now with more water to refill. So far, I’d say Krocky’s descriptions have been spot on.

This path is completely different. Climbing up the cracks of the Canyon we’re always dwarfed by towers of rock above us, the only view is what the isn’t obstructed ahead.

TIP: If you only have time or the capacity to see one trail: Pick the South Kaibab Trail and take loads of water.

Both are completely different experiences, but to truly experience the vastness and magnitude of the scale you’re a part of for a moment in time – is inspiring, humbling and its own rite of passage to appreciate.

There are few places that make me feel ‘home’, filling me with deep inner peace and gratitude for the beauty I’m given, wanting only one thing in return: respect.

The Grand Canyon joins Iceland, The Karoo, Table Mountain and Yosemite in my top five.

The perfect day to explore the Grand Canyon

Reflections

The stream means this route is greener and lush with vegetation, even hanging gardens as plants cling to the rock walls as though they have suction cups for roots. The contrast is incredible, and I’m reminded the most important aspects that make today possible:

  • My strong legs that work
  • My healthy body
  • My eye sight
  • Our timing
  • My girlfriend Jessie

On the way down, we’re always aware of what’s coming. Now, it feels like we’re being tormented as each layer above feels like the rim – just to have more cliffs above that. At one point the layers so thick I have to do a ‘pano’ pic just to get it all in. It feels daunting after already completing 800 vertical meters. The never ending tease of another false summit dwarfed by the next challenge.

With an extra 20kgs (44 pounds) on my shoulders, my legs, knees and ankles are managing better than expected – my shoulders and back on the other hand are taking serious strain. Again – I’m eternally grateful for the time of year, as most of the climb happens in the shade. The lower trajectory of the sun allowing the rim to protect us. I’m doing my best to keep a steady pace, constantly monitoring the time to make sure we’re on track. Every now and again seeing glimpses of the Australians further back. They should be okay.

I’m extremely grateful that Jessie’s able to do such extreme things and we’re able to enjoy the conversations that flow while doing these types of things. Today’s talks center around all the emotional challenges that we’ve gone through in our lives and what we’ve learned.

Today’s been a beautiful way see the Grand Canyon – but more importantly FEEL it too. There’s no better way to appreciate the beauty of nature than up close and personal on your own steam. I now understand my souls calling early in life to make this a ‘must see’ experience in my lifetime. All thanks to Jessie spoiling me for my 40th.

I know I’ll be back.

While I’ve tried to convey what this experience means to me – I can safely tell you that nothing will ever do it justice until you experience it yourself. All I ask – is that you give yourself as much opportunity to explore and watch time evaporate. Don’t cram this in, make it a priority. I believe you’ll leave it with a deeper appreciation for life.

After 7 hours and 39 minutes and 20 seconds covering 27 km (17 miles) – we’re back on the rim. A full hour ahead of schedule with ample time to enjoy a bar snack and well-deserved beer before watching the sun set over this sacred place. The perfect bookend to an unforgettable day.

What a way to celebrate my last Sunday as a ‘thirty something’ year old.

We get back in time to hear Krocky’s tales of the Canyon as part of his unorthodox quiz night, his smile relieved as much as it is congratulatory.

‘Krocky, is this ‘Victor’ sign really necessary’ I say bringing up my picture.

‘Oh yeah! In Summer there’s at least one person every day like that’

There you go. Don’t be like Victor – speak to Krocky and get the best advice for the experience of a lifetime. Although sad to be leaving, we’re given a new dream to reach for as they hand us their ‘passport’ to get stamped at their other locations: Moab, Yellowstone, Glacier Park, Zion, Great Smoky Mountains and Mt Rushmore all great places – but that’s not enough so they’re adding Acadia, Yosemite, Sonoma, Catalina Island and Joshua Tree to the list.

Again – we’re ready! We’re excited to meet each ‘Krocky’ to maximise our experience.

What. A. Day. Now it’s time to cap it off  under the stars, under which even the Grand Canyon is dwarfed.

How does this apply to you as you carve your own life through layers of challenges?

  1. Keep room for spontaneity in your life, the room will always be filled with unexpected treasures.
  2. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will always give you bonus opportunities to enjoy.
  3. Just because you want to do something, doesn’t mean you can. Be realistic about matching your capabilities with what’s required.
  4. Never be too proud to seek council from someone more experienced than you.
  5. Respect nature.
  6. Be prepared. More information makes better decisions resulting in more enjoyable experiences.
  7. Do less in a day with more intention, and the experiences will create profound memories instead of tick boxes you forget like boxes in the garage.
  8. Always be grateful for your experience and timing. Always
  9. Become an ambassador for these oasis of beauty

Goals linked to experiences, enrich your life beyond measure

~ Andrew Patterson

It’s not All Proteas (Roses)

Andrew Patterson drenched but not defeated

Week 26

My week starts off with an incredible sunset hike where I do my second fastest summit. Thankfully, because I run into hikers expecting the cable car to work (its closed) and having come from Skeleton Gorge (Kirsetnbosch Gardens which is a 3 hour hike) I safely bring them down Platteklip. We barely make it down before dark sets in but thankfully no injuries. Incredible to think my snap decision to do a sweep round the extremity up top meant I ran into them.

Sunset on platteklip gorge day 176 365 ubuntu Climbs
Always a treat to see sunsets from the mountain

No rest for the wicked, I’m up at 06:00 to start hiking in the dark to FINALLY test a theory of mine that the sun rises between the cliffs of Platteklip Gorge. About 20% left of the way I worry I started too late and I won’t be up top in time. I try push harder but its like those dreams where you need to run fast and just can’t. Thankfully, I made it with time to spare (albeit 5 days after the solstice) but my gut is right and I’m rewarded with the most spectacular start to a day one could hope for. Hike 177.

Cape Town from platteklip gorge 365 Ubuntu Climbs
Cape Town from the contour path

 

SUnrise between the cliffs at the top of Platteklip Gorge day 177 365 Ubuntu Climbs
Sun rises beautifully between the cliffs

Sunrise at the Top of Table Mountain 365 Ubuntu Climbs
Breath taking beauty

Calm before the storm

We all hear the saying. We’ve probably all said it; but this week I get to truly understand that. I also realise that the northern hemisphere’s saying of ‘Red morning Shepard warning red night Shepard’s delight’ is in reverse here in Cape Town. We have the most EPIC sunset Thursday before 4 days of inclement weather descend on us. So, what should our rhyme be?

Red morning Shepard’s yawning, red night shepherds fright?

Anyway, week 26 sees me have 3 days of exquisite opportunities for photos culminating with the most perfect lighting for your eyes Thursday before the storm. And oh yes…. The storm.

Sense of Humour Failure

Warnings of four days of foul weather mean I’m even more alert than usual, like a cat whose tail’s been stood on eight times already.

Friday looks like the mildest of the forecasts, but I still go when the least amount of wind and rain is predicted.

Not only did I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, but I think there was no bed, no side, and no waking. My drive up is fine until I reach the Roundhouse and it starts raining. Then? I reach Kloofnek and its misty. From there you only drive up and up.

Great. Probably no Cable car (its boarded up as I drive past) AND I’m getting wet.

I’m not happy.

Storm hits 365 Ubuntu Climbs

I’ve always said its fine to get rained on. Just not to start in the rain.

I sit in my car before hoping I can climb at least halfway without jackets (I always have two – one standard for warmth and another for rain to stay dry). If it rains – I have to wear both. No use carrying a wet jacket in my bag.

Its not raining. Its like someone’s sneezing constantly. Constant fine mist that’s not enough to be cold or wet instantly, but after ten minutes enough to soak you.

I must wear my jackets. Which – is INSANELY hot doing so. I’m a sweater. I sweat profusely. After 7 minutes I’m almost at the contour path and I’m not sure if sweat or water is pouring off my forehead.

I’ll be fine if I take off the jackets – so I think.

I walk up one flight of stairs from under the tree canopy and BOOM! The mist/annoyingly fine rain returns.

To make matters worse my rain pants I’m wearing keep sliding down so literally every 5 stairs I have to pull them back up. Interestingly, this – doesn’t happen the next day. Being in an ‘off’ mood and have all this happen starts shredding my sense of humour like FBI agents at Watergate. Or Jacob Zuma lawyers at Nkandla.

I’m not happy.

Today will be only the second hike in 182 that I see not a single other person on the mountain.

That means my first of 3 outlandish cries in frustration go unbeknown to anyone but myself, the mountain, and now you.

Small Miracles

All I can think about is how more annoyed I’m going to be, hiking back down pulling my pants up every two seconds. After placing rock 180 and knowing I only have 13% of the way and roughly seven minutes at a good pace left – I start ‘praying’ for a small miracle that the cable car is working

(At this juncture I should share the wind forecast showed it should be closed all day.)

I. Have. Never. Been. Happier. To. See…. A stock take being done.

EVER!!!

In probably my foulest mood ever I went from the Grinch to Santa in 0.56 seconds.

Gratitude

The cable way was closed but the staff were doing stock take at the shop in the station. With the eyes of a puppy wishing to be adopted I asked if they’d take me down.

“Ask the drivers”

Thankfully, one of my favourite drivers – Bululani – is operating the car opens the doors for me. The sweetest sound to my ear maybe in my life. He has one of the best smiles and radios below to bring us down.

Honestly, a split second changed the tone of what my daily video was going to be versus what it was.

Bululani was my daily miracle. I told him that too. And thanked him.

Andrew Patterson and Bululani
Cable Car ‘Uber’ driver for the day

I saw him again Saturday and we ‘laughed’ but man alive after the weather reports and expecting four hikes down in a row? Two rides down in two days was GOLD!!!!

My brain may not comprehend 180 climbs in a row but damn skippy my legs sure do.

 

Show Respect

Storm water 365 Ubuntu Climbs
I’ve never seen water flowing over the boulder to the right. Ever.

I’m reminded of how many people care as they send wishes on days like today – Sunday, where insane water flowed off the mountain.

Truthfully – a lesson I realised early on in this challenge, is no matter what the weather, the mountain must be respected.

And its on these days where the weather is so adverse and changes so quickly, that I look forward to; because it reminds me how important respect is. Not fear. Respect.

Always remember where you are and never get too big for your boots.

The water on the mountain on day 182 is majestic and made that much more interesting because of gale winds on the middle 1/3 only. Lower down and up top: nothing but WHOA on that middle band, waterfalls flowed back up the mountain.

I earned my stripes this weekend.

And once again I’ve seen the duality of perfect days (in our eyes) compared with not so perfect days (all lies).

There is no such thing as bad weather – just bad preparation.

See you on the mountain

Red Repen Protea Renaissance guy
Reward at the end of hike 182 and week 26

 

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.

It Comes in Three’s

 

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Devils Peak (left) Table Mountain (center) Lions Head (right)

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.

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The moon peaking its head behind the corner of Table Mountain as we sat huddled about 2/3 up

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.

April full moon
I truly wish you get to experience this in your lifetime

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.

wintery pic
Yep – the exit is down… down Platteklip Gorge!

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.

Ever.

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.

Inspiring-Nelson-Mandela-quotes-A-winner-is-a-dreamer-who-never-gives-up

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

 

 

How are Your NY Resolutions going?

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Milestones seem to be raining down on me this week – hopefully a great omen for a water strapped Western Cape this winter.

It’s incredible to think what’s transpired in two years since I started writing my blog; never mind the fact that I pledged to hike Table Mountain 365 times this year and as it stands: just this past week I hit triple digits for consecutive days (none missed) hiked up Table Mountain and successfully hosted my first ever fundraising event. To date:

  • 108 consecutive days hiked up Table Mountain
  • 53 days alone
  • 55 days taking 206 people up with me
  • R176 000 raised to build a home; teach a child to read and give someone with leukaemia a second chance at life
  • 682 km of hiking with 73km just vertical climbing (equivalent of 20.5 Mt Everest Summits)
  • 186 567 Calories burned, the equivalent of 2 248 glasses of wine

That second last stat is the one that doesn’t compute the most. Which leads me to my very first lesson I’ve learned these past few months.

    1. One day at a time, step by step

Goals can become overwhelming. Work or personal. What’s important is the daily action you take and thereby focus on. I’m not going to lie – 100 consecutive days hiking still seems daunting and outside the realm of reality; never mind the fact I still have 257 days left. However, now that I have 100 under my belt I have no doubt I’m going to achieve it because I have a formula that’s proven.

Breaking targets down into smaller bite size chunks is what will get you through.

  1. Be Open to the Unexpected

Rain, Lightening storms, gale force winds, fire, sore throats, people feeling sick (and being sick) on the mountain – there are no guarantees. I have a plan B and C in place for such days and thankfully, haven’t had to execute them.

Ask for the best

Plan for the worst

Be ready for anything

All these three mindsets require one important aspect: planning.

  1. Swap Expectation for Appreciation.

While training last year I thought anyone taking longer than two hours going up meant I’d have to walk up without them for my sanity.

My perceived value: was getting to the top.

Then I started my challenge and that all changed. I began to naturally fall into a rhythm of walking with whomsoever at the back. That’s when something extraordinary happened to me: incredible conversations flowed.

I understood people donating and choosing to hike up 730 vertical meters for a cause greater than ourselves is the real value of 365 Ubuntu Climbs. THAT’s what this is all about.

Individuals pushing their own boundaries and physical capabilities is the order of the day.

I appreciate every single person that’s joined me on this journey.

GPUU4656Dexter’s (far left) first time and it rained the whole way up – no complaints once!

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International guests from the UK Joining

  1. Time is not an Excuse

Many people have asked “what do you do???” or “how do you work” because of the perceived time spent hiking on Table Mountain. I even had a gent recognise me on the mountain and proclaim “I wish I was retired to join you”. Simply put, even WITH 40% of my monthly hikes being double the time I’d take if I was always on my own – I’m only hiking 10% of a month.

That’s 3 full days.

Let’s say you sleep on average 8 hours a day that equates to 10 days. That means hiking AND sleeping adds to 13 days combined. We’ll use February which only has 28 days to prove the point. IF you work 8 hours a day that’s 7 days. We’ve just hit 20 days and you still have 8 24-hour days to do what you want.

What I’m saying here is what you prioritise you will achieve.

There are no excuses.

If you have a family, that will be your priority and it will demand your time. Point is – you have time for your family because it’s a priority.

Be honest about the real reasons you not following your gut and passions.

Time is not it an excuse.

  1. Keep. It. Simple.

Spending time in nature means I observe it. The ability of flowers to grow out of cracks in cliff faces; vegetation staying green through a drought; flowers lasting three days (pink flower to right). If you want to grow – grow!

Life. Finds. A way. You can too.

Fire burns old vegetation so new seeds can prosper. There’s no good or bad it just is.

I’ve subsequently come to the decision on the mountain that, for me, there’s no such thing as bad.

What I thinks ‘bad’ today, in 6 months time becomes the best thing that ever happened to me.

The Sunflower Fund – an organisation designed to help other families not suffer the death of a loved one – was born from one sons death. It’s a tragedy beyond epic proportions for a mother; yet so many families since then have loved ones because she acted on her experience.

The ‘bad’ I see that is disturbing? Is good peoples apathy in life.

Unintended consequences

One thing you’ll never be able to predict, is the unintended consequences of you taking action. The incredible people you’ll meet – many wanting to help you. The inspiring conversations you’ll have. The lessons you’ll learn along the way, particularly about yourself and how you view life.

Life is a continuous flow whereby we’re constantly developing. No one got to the top of the mountain just standing there thinking about it. None of us have the answers first time, the ones that can share their successes are the ones that took that first step and kept going. No matter what.

The question is – how bad do you want it?

It can be scary as all hell but that’s just because its like standing in front of a dark room before you flip the switch.

I’m telling you from experience.

Flip the switch.

MOtivation

Do You get Bored?

bored

“How do you not get bored doing the same route every day?”

This question’s about the fact I’m climbing Table Mountain via Platteklip Gorge every day in 2018.

My answer on the mountain at the time was simple: No two days are the same.

That was my instant response answer, but the question sat like a splinter in my mind on the rest of the hike; day 76 of 365 summits.

Why don’t I get bored and what is boredom? I thought I’d explore it further in this piece.

What is Boredom

There are two times we’re bored: we’ve ‘nothing’ to do and/or doing the same thing over and over.

Parents will most likely identify most with the first type. Children complaining they’re bored because they aren’t able to do what they want.

In reality, boredom’s great (and necessary) because it stimulates creativity. Being bored means you must think, go within and tap into parts of ourselves that switch off when the TV or our dumb phones are on.

Understanding Boredom

In speaking about this to a group from the UK, words flowed through me I hadn’t thought about previously.

Boredom comes from pursuing things that are not driven by purpose. (With regards to a consistent daily routine)

Climbing Table Mountain every single day for a year just for some personal record would be boring as all hell to me.

Climbing Table Mountain every day to raise money and awareness for those born into extremely challenging circumstances has purpose.

It’s your mindset.

Different day – different people

I also challenge those who donate, to climb with me on a specific day, which means to date I’ve met amazing people and had 124 people walk up with me.

Would you get bored hearing about a mans struggle with depression, how he overcame it, developed techniques to do so and now teaches children all over the world how to find their voice and speak with influence?

Would you get bored listening to parents that met in India, lived in New York, packed up a good life there and moved to Cape Town to have a better quality of life with their children?

Would you get bored listening to your best friend share her challenges she’s going through and feel immensely proud at how she thinks and deals with challenges?

Would you get bored spending a Saturday morning with your only sister and her family that traveled 1400km to support you even when her health is something that prevents her from exercising the way she wants?

Now consider the fact that the weather from day to day can be dramatically different. One day clear blue skies2018.01.13

the very next day no view from the top at all 2018.01.14

What is your mindset?

Last year I climbed Table Mountain 49 times as part of my training regime while doing other hikes in-between to enjoy different scenery based on my geographical limitations this year. Training was mental preparation as much as physical. I told myself before every climb how excited I was and created the idea that I was hiking the equivalent of the day of the year. In other words, it may have been the 50th training hike, but I told myself this is day 277 of the year, and as such this is what it feels like after that many successive hikes.

Cultivating mindset doesn’t happen by accident, so here are some tips I’ve learned.

How to overcome boredom

Thinking about this question deeply I’ve developed 5 tips to cultivate your mindset so that you’ll never be bored again.

Tip #1: When you decide to do something there’s only one option – doing it.

It’s important to plan, this includes understanding all mental challenges that await you. You can train your mind to overcome it before you start.

I developed a healthy respect for what this challenge entails and more importantly, how powerful an impact it would make for people in need by completing it.

That meant there’s only one option to me – completing 365 hikes up Table Mountain in 2018.

When you give yourself alternatives the mind has options on what to focus on. IF you want to stop smoking the only option is being a non-smoker. Once you make that decision all you must worry about is today and the next moment. Period.

When you decide to do something there’s only one option.

Tip #2: Belief.

It’s one day at a time; step by step. Every day is a building block for the future, focus on what you learn and understand today, this builds belief within.

When you get through that, you get through the next day and before you know it – you’ve completed 15, then 79 days in a row.

Some days will feel easier than others. Some days will fly by. Perhaps outside factors will make your day more challenging, but you know what? It doesn’t matter what happens, you have the strength to overcome anything.

Tip #3: Outcomes drive behaviours, hence repetition doesn’t equal boring.

How many times have you eaten your favourite meal? Watched your favourite movie? Listened to your favourite song?

Over the years I’ve become accustomed to an important philosophy: The outcome drives the behaviour

I eat healthy because I know that means my body is getting nutrients it needs.

I exercise because I know it keeps my body and organs in good working order.

Whatever we do in life, especially things that we love, there’s a danger of becoming complacent and finding it boring. That’s why I say the end result drives behaviour, not your behaviour drives the result. Understanding why you do something is what builds healthy sustainable daily actions.

Tip #4: Gratitude is the foundation

When you stop being grateful for the fact that you can hear, then it becomes easy to get bored with listening to your favourite song.

If you lack appreciation for your body being fully abled, then you’d get bored being able to climb one of the 7 natural wonders of the world every day.

It takes a minute for your life to change dramatically. Nothing is guaranteed, and nothing is owed to you. Remember that.

Tip #5: What you focus on is what you get

If you worry about getting bored – you’ll get bored. If you love each day for the different options available to you then you’ll find new exciting things to experience each day.

Each day I get excited for the new experience that awaits me. I get excited for the fact that I AM doing it again! I’d rather be on the mountain than in traffic. I understand that I’m being blessed with healthy rejuvenating calming stress-relieving energy by being in nature. That each step is changing someone’s life for the better.

I focus on all the positive aspects about what I’m doing.

Start practicing today.

You don’t need to climb a mountain every day to put these tips into practice. Take breathing as an example, although it happens automatically do you get bored breathing? Take time to be aware and experience all the different ways you can breathe:

 : while walking

: while running

: while swimming

: while meditating

: while focusing on each breath

: doing breathing exercises

: out one nostril, in the other

Boredom’s born from expecting joy to be given to us; but when you can find joy in even the tiniest moment – you’ll never be bored again.

The choice is yours.

 Andrew Patterson is climbing Table Mountain every day in 2018 to build homes; teach children in under resourced schools to read; and increase the database for Leukaemia. Build. Teach. Life. To be part of the movement head to https://www.backabuddy.co.za/365-ubuntuclimbs

Love and respect. Thank you.

2018 – Start the Way You Want to Finish

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We’re already a week in to 2018 and boy has it kicked off in style.

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My very first step

The saying ‘the longest journey always begins with the first step’ has never been more appropriate for me than 04:33am on January 1st when I began my year long journey to make a positive impact for those born under more challenging circumstances than us.

What that saying never talks about though, is the support that others will give you on that journey. I had the absolute pleasure of being cheered on by my mom and Aunty San via my sports tracking app Endomondo as they were both awake in support and incredibly; met by this amazing human being at 04:15 before I started:

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What a legend – David Thompson (left)

To have somebody: Meet me. In the dark. On New Years day. At 4am in the morning.

Thats special.

It meant I started the journey of a million stairs with miscued high fives (it was dark okay!) massive hugs and sleepy smiles. In my book – I couldn’t have asked for a better start.

Why start so early? I hear you asking… well, I felt it was perfect way to begin 2018; watching sunrise at the top of the mountain. It would’ve been easy to go out partying sleep in and hike in the afternoon; but this is a year of focus and dedication and you should always start with your best foot forward.

I wasn’t even guarenteed with a view of sunrise as we were blessed with rain the previous day. As the light of dawn started to illumiate my path above, I saw Platteklip gorge, the route I’ll be taking every day for a year, blanketed in mist at the top. A mystical sight, but not boding well for a sunrise view.

I arrived up top to the mist having cleared – then reappearing below me – and the clouds above Table Mountain dancing in the wind. They parted for just enough time to allow me the opportunity as our first sunrise of 2018 appeared. All alone at the top, the same feeling I’d experienced the previous year in Iceland washed over me.

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We have the most incredible home

My first summit was complete. 1 down. 364 to go. (check out my blog here to read more about my 2018 challenge)

One week in and I already have donations coming in from around the world:

– ICELAND: I met Huni at JT Foxx’s Mega Success conference in November where he promised to support and has already followed through and I have no doubt will join me on some hikes later in the year too. He’s another amazing human being that I have no doubt will feature in more blog posts.

– NEW ZEALAND: Melanie Davey, whom I’ve never met, took the time to email me the most incredible letter of support and appreciation for my project. Words that reminded me how powerful they can be and that we need to be more mindful of what we say to others: and ourselves.

USA: Greg and Therese were hiking up on the Thursday with their daughter before the headed back to Denver a couple days later. They’d been chatting to my friend Achmat, a man who completed 131 Table Mountain climbs in 2017 and did 7 hikes in a row last week too. Walking up to them I was greeted with massive smiles and they wanted to know more about the purpose behind the 365 consecutive hikes. Upon hearing my desire to build homes; help teach children to read and increase the database for leukeamia they hunted me down on the net and found my blog to get in touch and pledge their support too.

If you haven’t guessed it yet the support has gone from a snowflake to a snowball the size of my hand getting bigger with every step I take.

6 January 2018

Enter my coach, Karel Vermeulen. We’ve only just joined forces but already his influence on my business ideas and suggestions for 365 UbuntuClimbs is being felt. All people who donate and/or help me increase the reach on social media to hit our audacious target are invited to climb up with me on one or more of the climbs; it’s a great way for people to be part of it more than just donating. They’ll forever be in history as they’re remembered in day X of 365.

Karel lets me know he’s planning on joining me and invites his friends to join on the morning of his birthday. Due to rain we move it forward to the Saturday morning instead. I’m doing videos up top every day and after we’d finished he suddenly requested Lezelle to do another one of us together.

My heart overflowed with his words and his additional pledge of R5000 over and above his donation of R1 per day; my minimum request for people to sponsor me as I undertake this grueling challenge.

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Karel (3rd from right) Lezelle (2nd from right)

Enter a chat with Lezelle post the video where she shares this experience and being part of 365 UbuntuCLimbs (her first time and the first group joining) is in her top three lifetime “awesome” experiences. She smiles as she states: “I am one of the million people you aiming to empower this year and I feel motivated for 2018”

Feeling absolutely pumped up from this, I head home where I had a catch up meeting with another new friend created through the JT Foxx organisation; Carolyne Opinde a.k.a the NGO Whisperer.

Hot tip: if you want to dramatically improve your network, head to one of the many JT Foxx events this year. There are a thousand plus motivated successful positive people attending for you to connect with.

My catch up with Carolyne leaves me feeling even more motivated and inspired with actions to complete this week. Embarking on an audacious project like this means I’ve inadvertently created a company (non-profit) which keeps me busy: learning, growing, implementing, taking action.

Interestingly I’ve created a full year working program with no days off; but importantly I get to spend two plus hours a day in nature. And truthfully, having the opportunity to execute this is far beyond what we define as work. I’m having a tremendous amount of fun!

Sometimes you might feel overawed by an idea you have or a task you need to complete. These can all be broken down into bite size chunks. 365 sounds a lot; focusing on the one I need to do today sounds much more manageable doesn’t it? Doing 3000 stairs in one go seems immense yes? Focusing on just the very next step means before you know it – you’ve completed a quarter of the climb; half the climb; the whole climb. Whatever you tackle in life:

It’s one step at a time.

To pledge your support please go to:

https://www.backabuddy.co.za/365-ubuntuclimbs

every little bit helps – just ask the people who’s lives you’re helping change.

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