While the hiking function
of Quo Vadis might have terminated with a whimper, the game viewing segment of
our “hike” bore testimony to both Malcolm’s generosity as well as the capacity
of the German contingent to once again drink themselves into a stupor. For them, the wealth
of game was a distraction.
But as Julie Andrews would
sing in the Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning”.
Main picture: Malcolm’s shack in the Olifant’s North Game Reserve
Disclaimer: As apposed to my brother Dean, I should
be the long distance runner in the family.
I, in my callow youth, was short, wiry and ornery (but mostly just went
my own way). Suddenly one day in
standard 9 the ugly duckling became a ‘swan’.
From always being on the ground in the annual class photographs I
suddenly found myself in the second row – heady times. In Matric, I proudly took my place alongside
all those guys in the back row who had played rugby lock their whole lives –
traditionally reserved for the tallest while the coach struggled to find a
position where he could hide me. I might
have got tallish, but I never got broad, let alone broadish. I left Varsity a tad under 6 ft and weighing
in at 73kg. By the age of 55 I had put
on weight – I weighed 75kg. I was long
distance material – rangy and still a bit ornery. Dean, my elder brother by 4 years, was not
the archetypal long distance runner. He
was an inch or two shorter than me and struggled with his extra poundage for
his whole life. In addition, a very,
very septic burst appendix (caused by our sister Cheryl, a tough little shit of
note, giving him a voltruis skop in the right side when he was 10 or 11)
ensured that his 6- pack, if he could get one, was ripped to pieces by the aggressive
surgery resulting in a recurrent stitch when running.
For my research, I am always purchasing second-hand books on the internet. As reports had indicated that the service at the Post Office had improved, I took a chance. Instead of paying a courier R100 for a delivery within two days, I would save some money and pay R55 for the Post Office. I might have to wait a few extra days but that was not the end of the world.
Or so I incorrectly thought.
Main picture: Post Office International Mail
In 1999, Paul Selby set an audacious goal: Run from
Durban to Pietermaritzburg overnight and finish just before the starting gun
for the Down Comrades was fired outside the Town Hall in Pietermaritzburg. This
would be the first attempt by anybody at this plucky mission.
Main picture: L-R: Tony do Couto, Paul Selby and Guy Drew
Tempis fugit. Time flies.
This trail has been the entrée of many a person into hiking. So it was with Malcolm Royal about 20 years ago and his fellow Outbound Adventure Mate, Peter Glover, five years ago. In the case of the latter, it was contemporaneous with a decline in hiking standards within the Quo Vadis Hiking Club. Whether Peter was instrumental in this decline in refusing to adhere to hiking norms such as carrying a hiking pack or whether he merely epitomised the general lowering of standards as the members of the Club reached old age, I am not sure. Whatever the reason, we have now set the bar so low that hiking is optional. So it was this weekend.
Main picture: One of the numerous bridges on the Magoebaskloof Hike
With Quo Vadis’ resident chef not being in attendance on the Barrett’s Coaches Hike at Kaapsehoop, I expected some twittering in the ranks about the attendees’ inability to prepare food. Little did I expect that a member of long standing, and generally not given to being ill-disciplined, would sink to a new level of incompetence: he forgot his food altogether.
The generous members of Quo Vadis stepped into the breach and offered their own food to a Comrade in order to prevent him from contracting anorexia.
This was but one of the numerous incidents which beset the hike to Barrett’s Coaches on the Kaapschehoop Trail in August 2018.
Main picture: Rob & Dean in front of one of the many huge rocks littering the area
From the swansong of Arnold Paikin to the debut swan dive of Clive Cameron, it was a weekend of high drama as norms, precedents and etiquette were summarily ignored and cast aside. It was an object lesson of how to let one’s hair down and to hell with precedent and regulations. The only redeeming feature was that everybody enjoyed themselves without killing themselves in the process.
Perhaps I can be accused of having a starry-eyed love affair with road running, the mistress in my life. It is not dissimilar from the love of a soul mate, the love of one’s very being, that passion which evolves over the years until one attains that pinnacle of that love. In the case of road running, this peak is the Around the World Challenge [RTW Challenge].
Why is this so?
Main picture: Eleven of the thirteen finishers of the Around the World Challenge as at June 2017. Back row: Des Robbins, Paul Selby, Dean McCleland, Peter Darroll. Middle row: Lesley Vermeulen, Ric Marini, Sue Darroll, Frik di Preez. Front row: Kosie van Vuuren, Neels Vermeulen
This is a cautionary tale on the perils of hiking. Not that it was the fault of the trail or the environment per se, but rather the stupidity and bravado of the hikers themselves. In both incidents it was a dog that saved the day.
Main picture: Lesoba Hiking Trail
In reading Helen Zille’s excellent autobiography, she narrates the incident in which she received a phone call in the middle of the night alleging that her spouse was involved in infidelity. This despicable practice is used as a ploy to intimidate or to extract revenge.
As I have experienced a similar incident some 20 years ago, there were uncomfortable parallels in my mind. Fortunately, in both cases, no lasting recriminations or suspicions were aroused or damage inflicted on the relationship. Yet it did cast some momentary doubts on the affected spouse in both cases.
Main picture: Helen Zille, Premier of the Western Cape