It’s been a looong time since the last Chronicle Number Next broadcast (see https://marcuscollins.wordpress.com/category/chronicles/) — every year i try to recollect what’s been happening in an email to friends near and far, those i’ve long last seen, and those who’ve helped make these memories…
As i wrote this draft on Sunday, i was sitting a third of the way up Stellenbosberg, giving my injured knee a break while two friends from the rescue team (that story later!) continued. i was looking over Stellenbosch and across False Bay, remembering many of the things that have made the past 18 months or so memorable. There are so many… so this is just the highlights package…
As always, i’m sorry that this is an impersonal group mail, but i do look forward to catching up more personally with y’all soon!
The spell of the Hex
During the mid-year 2004 vac, Giovanni, Stefan, Thomas and i dashed off to the Hex River mountains for a few days away from it all. It was really magic — following the river up towards Morrainekloof (Milner Peak area); camping behind a waterfall that sent its icy spray way beyond us as it plummeted down the high, concave cliff; gasping at the expansive vista from the top of Morrainekloof en route to Milner Peak. Though we were there only two nights, it was incredibly refreshing.
Little town of Bethlehem
Late September saw us off to Bethlehem (the one in the Free State!) to visit Daniel’s family, together with Andrew and JD. We packed a good deal of fun into the few days we were there — lurking in Pretoriuskloog nature reserve and stalking springbok and an albino reindeer; a bit of target practice on the farms; visiting family in Clarence and driving through the Golden Gate national park.
Two highlights for me were horseriding in Wolhuterskop nature reserve (first time horseriding for me — definitely something to do again!), and our day in the Drakensberg. The Drakensberg mountains are vast, majestic, beautiful. Rolling grass and rolling mountains for miles without end will take your breath away if the September cold and thin air don’t first.
We walked from the Sentinel park via chain ladders up to the escarpment near the start of the Tugela river (which boasts the world’s second-highest waterfall — over 900m of falls), then along the river towards the Amphitheatre. Standing at the edge of this precipitous drop (ranging from 500m to 2000m, depending on whom you believe ;-), you can feel lost for the vastness of it all. We back-tracked and continued to Mont-aux-Sources, the watershed from which the great Tugela, and four other rivers, start. Mont-aux-sources also has the distinction of being the highest peak in South Africa, at 3282m.
i’ve fallen in love with the Drakensberg, and i long to go back… Never mind Mont-aux-Sources being the highest point in SA — i was on top of the world.
i organised two weekend breakaways to the Cederberg during October and November, introducing old and new friends to this wilderness jewel with its awe-inspiring rock formations, its rolling mountains, its crystal pools, and its breathtaking stillness. We stayed at Sandrif again, and walked through the Wolfberg Cracks to the Arch. Both must be among this country’s greatest natural wonders. Staring at a mountain, you’d be amazed to think you can walk right through it. And a little while later after some scrambling and squeezing you do emerge — amazed.
We met some wonderful people along the way — on our first visit with Andrew, Robert and Riaan, we met a couple from Lichtenstein researching and holidaying in SA, who turned out to be staying in Somerset West with Andrew’s gran. Too much of a coincidence. It put new heart in me to walk with them, hear their stories, and share about some of my own dreams and goals.
i moved again, at the end of November — hopefully the last move for a couple years. i’m staying now with Ryan and Roelof, who’re both studying at Stellenbosch. Ryan and i met in April last year while cycling at Eden (just before i tore my shoulder ligament cycling in April 2004 — no connection, right Ryan! :-) Both of us were looking for a new roof from December, and it was actually around late October, immediately after cycling and praying with Andrew specifically about accommodation, that we again bumped into one another just as Ryan was about to look at the flat in which we’re now staying. God is good.
December was a hectic month — camping at Wiesenhof game farm a few nights while Ryan was working there, cycling back to work, etc. — great.
As years go bye
2005 seems to have abeen a much busier year, even though i’ve been working more part-time. Work — yes, i’m at GivenGain still. The company (which assists charities and NPO’s in their fundraising by providing technology solutions) is doing good and well. i’m really blessed with the other people there, especially since we’ve expanded at the beginning of the year. My work is now more on the customer support side, which i do find more stimulating right now than the more pure IT side. It’s a privilege to be able to help people who are already out there making a difference (organisations like Adventure ‘n Beyond, Global Relief, CANSA, Operation Mobilisation, etc.), though i do still wish i could also be out there.
My focus has shifted slightly — or maybe just become clearer. i know that, looking forward, i want to be more involved in outdoor stuff and in training and building up people in/using the outdoors. Over the next three to five years, then — once i’ve finished with undergrad and while i’m doing postgrad — that’s where i want to be. It’s been great having opportunities — and there are so many here in Stellenbosch and in Cape Town — to spend time meaningfully with folk hiking, cycling, caving, and so on — hopefully getting to understand life, love, and the Lord a little more clearly together.
In April this year, i met up with some guys from the Hottentotsholland section of the MCSA (mountain club of SA), and with some of them involved in wilderness search and rescue. Since then, i’ve been incredibly fortunate to go along with them on some great hikes, and to learn and train with the SAR group. i’ve finally got around to completing my level III first aid course (meeting great folk from Namibia and Swaziland along the way) — i want to do L5 (basic ambulance assistant) when time and money allow — and i’ve got interested in rock climbing again.
It’s been wonderful spending time with so many people who also love the outdoors, and learning from them. It’s not all positive, happy heroism — my first real mission was a body recovery — but i’m learning and growing through it and, besides being able to help others, it’ll also help me to get involved in the future with outdoor adventures companies and so on — i’ve got my eye on places like Outward Bound and AnB, but that’s still several years away.
Among the most interesting training in which i’ve taken part with WSAR was the cave rescue seminar in June — a day of theory, some basic rescue scenarios at Kalkbaai caves, and then we did a full-scale simulation at Smuggler’s cave, a vertical system with five long pitches. i helped with radio comms and logs outside the cave entrance, wondering if i want to take my turn next time to spend the eighteen hours plus in the cold and wet underground, instead of in the cold and rain outside!
“It is better to be learning than learned” (Clem Sunter)
Exams are coming up in about four weeks — after a break in the second semester last year, i have some catching up to do. i aim to finish my BA (psychology and education) in three years’ time, studying by correspondence with Unisa. After that — the plan is still to do a post-grad teacher’s diploma and then further guidance counselling coursework, but i’d like to do some other short courses in environmental education and so fifth. And some fun stuff to keep the grey matter alive.
Well, that’s all from the six o’clock news team… As always, i’m keen to hear what’s happening in your world, and eager to see what the next few months hold. i’m still encouraged by what one of my friends told me years ago — “Have no fear of what the future holds, for God holds the future”.
Best wishes and talk with you soon!
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap,
but by the seeds you plant
– Robert Louis Stevenson