On the 20th May approximately 135 hikers took to the hills surrounding the Cavern. There were two options this time. The Big5 for those that were feeling strong and determined and the Little5 with lesser hills for the oldies and smaller children. It turned out that the Little5 was challenging too and just incredible to see the little people make it right to the very end.

Hikers were split into 4 batches with guides and group leaders to help out. We are always very grateful to our family – at the Cavern, Montusi and All Out Adventures – for being so willing to lend a hand, our Cavern team who are always enthusiastic about getting up at 5am to make sure the Mugg & Bean coffee station is well-manned, our teachers who efficiently get the Registration done and co-ordinate refreshments and are the merry welcoming committee at each and every stop and, not forgetting, the incredibly strong porters and sherpas who ensure all the right goods land up in the right places. What a joy to be surrounded by such a great group of willing and able souls.

The sponsors this year gave generously. Melville Douglas, ClucasGray and Total SA, came on board and ensured that our hikers had excellent hiking kit and backpacks. Dermalogica popped in a sunscreen. Sparkles made sure we had a snack and Aquelle ensured we were all hydrated for the climb. Hollard, Dezzo Roofing, Out in Africa Tours, ClucasGray, INCE and Mooney Ford were our peak sponsors and Total Gateway hosted our welcome-home gathering with donations of delicious refreshments from Vinimark – The Wine Company and the Notties Brewery.

The hike summits the 5 peaks surrounding the Cavern. It is always such fun ticking them off… 1 Hollard Hlolela, 2 Dezzo Roofing Battleship…. But what adds to this weekend are the wonderful stops along the way. We are so thankful to the Watt-Pringle family for not only hiking but being so generous in providing for the Mugg & Bean Coffee Station at Rustlers Gap, the sweets and treats Sparkle stop before the slog up Out in Africa Sugar Loaf and then the incredible fire-flamed Wimpy Burgers in Mooney-Ford Cannibal Cavern. We were well fed, refreshed and even drank celebratory bubbles, thanks to VDP, as we gathered for a short rest at lunch time. Our legs were ready for the final peak, INCE Camels’ Hump.

It is always a worry to have so many people out on the mountain at one time and special thanks goes to Stephen Richerts for being on stand-by to help with any eventuality… luckily it was just one pair of 10 year old shoes that needed strapping and the duck-tape came in very handy!

Our photographers recorded the moments and Grant made an awesome video. Thank you Grant Pitcher and Anton Kieck for capturing the day. And the moments were many! A million moments and many steps for young Travis Gillespie who had decided to do the whole hike bare foot! He went from 10 out of 10 to 1 out of 10 when he eventually arrived back. Travis is an exceptional young man, ready to take up a challenge and so willing to make a difference. He walked bare foot to raise awareness for those without shoes and then managed to secure a donation of shoes for every child at Royal Drakensberg Primary. Well done, Travis. To us, the children and the wider community you are an absolute legend! The delight of the little people was apparent when they got their own pair of shiny black toughees!

Moya walked and raised her cash. Our hound was grateful to each and every guest that supported her climb and after gathering all the R200 entries we are pleased to announce our Cavern Raffle winner is Michelle Amsel. Congratulations! We look forward to welcoming you to the Cavern for 3 nights in superior accommodation with a back massage thrown in & a couple of bottles of good SA wine awaiting your arrival! Gill Hayhoe earrings were won by Mathabo Mashiane and an Absolute Heaven Massage by Daelin Pillay.

The funds raised help us keep Royal Drakensberg Primary afloat. This small school provides a quality education to the children in the area and gives them the springboard to successful futures. Quality costs and our greatest assets are our greatest expense so we thank each and every hiker for contributing to making a difference in this area and for changing the futures of the children. Thank you to all the hikers and their supporters!

It is also the deep and beautiful friendships that develop when so much good comes together and it would be amiss not to mention our special friends, Georgie & Simon Carter. We sat at dinner in their home in 2014 and hatched a plan for the first Big5. It would have been our Grandmother Ruth’s 103rd birthday and we raised R103 000 on that day with just 20 close friends. Our fourth Big5 has brought in R965 000. Georgie’s drive and enthusiasm has helped us grow this into an awesome weekend event. Thank you!

2018 will be the 5th Big5Hike. The date is set – 19 May 2018 – and the list has started! We look forward to another great hike. And, again we will hike on Ruth’s birthday. We’ll have to think up something special for this next great occasion.

2 thoughts on “Hiking4Education – Big5Hike 2017

  1. Well done Cavernites. You are such a caring family, not only to your family and friends but to the community as well. This is so special. So glad I know you all, very special people. Loads of love to you all, Paddy and Shirley

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