Big 5 Hike Walking4Education 2016

What has been achieved is remarkable and gives us great hope for the future. While there will always be worries and niggles, we can forget these for a short while when we do something really valuable. On Saturday we made a huge contribution and difference by taking time and ultimately investing in our children. A little work with the right focus will always give us a glimmer of hope and education remains the bright shining light that marks the future…

We look forward to a host of activities through the year but there is one that is fast becoming one of my favourites. It started during our 40 days of hiking in 2014 and this year we completed our third Big5Hike, our hike for education. We had a lovely bunch of returnees gather in May but a whole new contingent also joined us on this mission of walking and fundraising. It was fully subscribed with 75 adult hikers and 15 children and I did panic a bit about there being too many!

May is a great weather month but the forecast jumped from 30% to 80% rain which made us slightly concerned but we managed to start off in good conditions, cool and dry. We had 4 batches to spread out the groups, each departing in 45 minute intervals. The first peak, Hollard Hlolela, is a massive climb. Giant steps at the beginning test the muscles and the scramble up the nose is not for the feint-hearted! At Rustler’s Gap we enjoyed a Mugg & Bean coffee, muffin and cookie. I saved my muffin for the very top!

After Hollard Hlolela it’s a short hike across to Dezzo’s Battleship. The roof top of the Big 5 Hike and then it’s down, down, down to the contour that runs along the cliff line. Once again we had a wonderful refreshment stop provided by Sparkles Harrismith. I can’t remember a Lunch Bar ever tasting so good! And well needed for the next slog to Sugar Loaf. Sugar Loaf is the little pimple behind the Cavern. It looks fairly insignificant from the front lawn but after 2 peaks it was a steep climb.

From Sugar Loaf we headed behind and then up Cold Hill. The highest point of Cold Hill is a wonderful vantage point with views stretching across the Royal Natal National Park and to the magnificent Amphitheatre. We headed down the Devil’s Staircase and Cavern Gap into the warmth and comfort of Cannibal Cavern. Even though we were the first batch to arrive it was teaming with supporters who had headed up from the Cavern to join us for lunch. I worried briefly that it may be too much but the Cavern is vast and before we knew it we were all huddled in, enjoying our substantial M&B sandwiches and sipping our bubbles (thanks VDP!) out of the lightning and storm that was brewing above.

We had to shelter for an extended period because of the lightning. It was incredibly festive and a time for all batches to gather and mix. We then headed off to climb the final peak, Archie’s Camel’s Hump. As we approached Surprise Ridge the storm seemed to blow in once more and having had to deal with a lightning strike recently we called off the final ascent. There are always a few die-hards and they decided to go up anyway. Thankfully no disasters and we all arrived home to a wonderful celebration on the grass. Wine compliments of Vinimark, a heavy keg of Notties Pale Ale and a chance to rest the weary limbs.

We’d spent a fantastic day out in the great outdoors, folk had had to dig deep to meet the challenge of the mountain and we watched in admiration as people stretched out to help others. We have been blown away by the generosity and raised in excess of R720 000 for education. This ensures a quality start in the education journey for our rural children and this is the investment needed for the future.

Huge thanks to:
Total Gateway, Melville Douglas, Clucas Gray, Hollard, Dezzo Roofing, Charles Teversham, Total SA, Colenbrander, Mugg & Bean Harrismith, Sparkles Sweets & Treats, VDP Distributors, Vinimark, Meridian Wine Merchants, Dermalogica, Big Sky Marketing, Grant Pitcher, Postboxx, Drakensberg Draping, Luma-Inc, Nottingham Road Brewery

Here’s to 2017.

by Megan Bedingham

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