Well, I did it, I wasn’t sure how I would go however I climbed Table Top Mountain in Cape Town. And, to be clear, Table Top Mountain is 1085m high. I admit I’m pretty proud of myself for doing this.
When we arrived in Cape Town I saw the imposing mountain towering over us all. It was so high, it made everything around it look small and almost insignificant. As I stared at the mountain, I actually felt my stomach tremble with intimidation. I wasn’t sure if I had bitten off more than I could possibly chew when it came to hiking and the more I looked at the vastness of it, the worse I felt.
It was huge, and from my vantage point, it looked like it boasted huge sandstone cliffs wherever you looked. How on God’s green earth was I going to climb this mountain? I had seen pictures on brochures, I’d done my research online but the print version nor the digital gave the intimidating view that I was experiencing in person. At home, in the comfort of my lounge room, when I booked this hiking tour I think naivety had me covered. What was I thinking, booking a hiking tour TO THE TOP OF THIS ROCK?
You know how it is, we all feel very brave sitting in our lounge rooms with all our familiar comforts around as we click with confidence and pay with pride, now I was confronted with reality and I think I was slightly paralysed. I was the only one of our group who was climbing the mountain. We were staying at a hotel at the base and each time I looked out the window there it was staring down at me, Table Top Mountain in all her splendour. I have to be completely honest, there were times when I looked out that window and looked over at Rob and admitted that I wasn’t sure I could do this hike. That being said and a little fear as my companion, I really wanted to give it my best and at least have a good ole Aussie crack at it.
We arrived on Friday and I was booked to climb on Monday. I had the weekend to stare at it’s compromising stature, allowing the mountain to intimidate me and cause me to consider my options. Before leaving for our South African adventure, I had been dedicated to my usual fitness routine in order to prepare for this hike but for whatever reason, I didn’t have time to do the extra that would have been so beneficial.
We left Sydney for South Africa nearly two weeks before my climb which meant due to our travel schedule I didn’t have those two weeks of training up my sleeve which contributed to my lack of confidence. Thankfully, our skilled tour guide told me that they would put me to the test in the first twenty minutes of the climb and if she thought I would be able to complete the climb. If I failed her test, she would turn me around and send me back to the safety of our hotel room. I was feeling a little unsure of the whole thing. My ability to complete the hike to conquer this mountain was definitely in question.
I decided to look at the situation this way: I had nothing to lose except pride and the satisfaction of completing the climb coupled with the money I had paid for the climb caused my determination to grow.
I went to bed Sunday night with everything laid out ready. My backpack pack was packed, my hiking clothes were ready to put on first thing and the alarm set to wake me at 5 am. After a light breakfast of fruit, muesli and yoghurt, the 6 am departure time was upon me. I waved goodbye to Rob and set out with my guide. My goal was to do my best at conquering that mountain.
Now, I can say that I’m glad I found my resolve and conquered that mountain. It is an experience I will NEVER forget for as long as I live. I had a lovely young couple from England join me and before we began, we stood at the bottom and our guide pointed out the track we were about to venture upon. Looking up at the mountain, and seeing where we were going to walk made my heart race. What kept me focused at the moment was knowing how disappointed I would be (in myself) if I didn’t at least have an attempt at this adventure. So, with my fear, concern and determination we set off and began the hike. Important to note: there are over 100 tracks over the mountain and our guide chose to take us on one that took us up the back of the mountain. You can imagine my relief when after twenty minutes she said she was confident I could make it.
As you climb, there are a few short breaks of flat walking in between varying degrees of difficulty, it was amazing. The beautiful vegetation all around reminded me so much of our plants in Australia. Leisel, our guide was just lovely and so knowledgeable about all the plant and bird life we came across on the track. It took my breath away. The sheer beauty and majesty of it all, the way the plants were created to survive such harsh conditions and the delicate flowers that seemed to smile at me and encourage me up the mountain. We saw so many magnificent views that are not accessible unless you made the effort to climb the track. I am not going to deny it, it was hard work and in the last hour my body was crying out to me each time I had to climb another big rock and hang on to scamper up a steep section, however, the rewards were more than worth it. To know that the young couple were finding it as hard as I was also encouraged me to keep going without doubting myself.
We saw the waterfalls, the towns way down low on the coastline beneath us, the track behind us, the mountains around us, the wildflowers, the dams, the beautiful delicate birds and the magnificent eagles gliding in the sky around us, I couldn’t help but be in awe. It took 4:15 hours from the bottom to the top and then 20 mins to walk over the top to the cable car to take us down to the waiting car that we had departed earlier.
Rob met us at the top and he had a big smile of relief on his face when he saw that I had made it safely. I am so glad I didn’t let pride, fear, intimidation or anything else step in my way and stop me even though it was tempting every step of the way. As I looked at what seemed impossible from the bottom looking up, I realised that it was all possible but it requried effort from me.
Isn’t that just like life? So many times it seems easier to stay in our comfort zone and not step out and up when a challenge comes along or a dream comes to us. I can’t wait to tell my precious grandchildren about my adventure and how I wasn’t sure I could do this but found the courage and was able to conquer my deepest fears.
The feeling of standing on the top of that mountain with a very tired body knowing there was no more climbing to do, that it was all behind me was the most amazing, fabulous and exhilarating feeling. At 67 years old I am so excited about being healthy enough to accomplish a hike like this. I can’t wait to do another one that will challenge me and give me the same satisfaction. I want my grandchildren to hear stories from their grandmother about how she overcame her fears, all in an effort to help them see and know not to let anything or anyone stop them from following their dreams.
What a magnificent world we live in. I am believing Psalm 92:14 and in my old age, I will be flourishing. Let’s create stories we can share with the young children in our lives so they can dream big and become overcomes themselves.
Susanna Bateman #littlemiraclescommunity