The title above is a famous cliché and it is mostly true. Many folks sit around moping and waiting to be invited on hikes or scrambles or climbs or camps in the wilderness. They wait and they wait and they wait. Then then moan and they moan and they moan! Nobody thinks of me, poor me, myself and I.

Don’t do that.

A whole wonderful  world opens up to you when YOU realise that YOU can control everything! An amazing thought is: You are actually allowed to organise events – hikes, climbs, weekends away …  Seriously!

For me, the most exciting part of it is that I get to go where I want to go – I don’t have to fit into others folk’s plans and idiosyncrasies.

A word of warning, you need to KNOW what you are doing so it is great advice to get professional training, especially if you are going to lead hikes and longer overnight trails – I was privileged to get my training from VENTURE FORTH – They were totally amazing (And I’m not getting paid to tell you this J).

You also open up a world to all those other folks out there waiting for someone to invite them – just wishing that they could have an adventure. That used to be me. A taker!! I have learned to become a giver! And folks generally really appreciate this. Some folks can’t thank you enough! A wonderful feeling.

Firstly you have to make a decision – Ask yourself:

Where do I enjoy going?

Some of the events I have organised in the past 2 years (Covid and all!!) include:

  • A long weekend at Heuningvlei together with a hike up the majestic Krakadouw with its stunning Cedar trees. (18 people)
  • A seven day hike over Christmas and New Year (DEC 2020) from Weldedacht up Uilsgat, across to Crystal Pools (3 amazing days exploring all the kloofs), then up Asias kloof to the massive Asias Cave with the nearby mountain swim – into the mountain!!! Then across to Sneeukop Hut and on to Sleeppadhut for New Year’s Eve (where else would you want to spend New Year’s Eve?). Then up Tafelberg and down to the cars at Weldedacht parking area. (10 people)
  • A 5 day hike / climb at Turret Peak above Op-die-Berg. (14 people)
  • A 14 day trip to the Transfrontier National Park in the Richtersveld. (4 people)
  • A 7 day Fish River Canyon Hike – some even from Tanzania (friends).  (18 people)
  • Numerous day hikes on Table mountain including some of my favourites, “Not Woody Buttress” and “Cairn Ravine branching to Joshua’s Cave”.

Some of the Advantages of organising your own events include:

  1. You are in control.
  2. You can go whenever you choose.
  3. You can go as often as you like.
  4. You can choose who goes with you.
  5. You get to go where YOU want to go.
  6. You learn new skills – organising permits, planning routes, sorting out  accommodation, working out the safety requirements, and so on.

Disadvantages …..  Really? Are you serious?

Ask yourself :

where do I love to be most in the world? Cederberg, Winterhoek mountains, Table Mountain? Richterveld?  Everest Base Camp? Then sit down and brain storm:

I generally get an idea, eg. (This is an actual event I’m planning):

Cederberg – 7 days – December 2021 – Explore Nuwejaarskloof with its 7 pools, waterfall and 2 cave – let’s make it happen – So I put it to our group and I have 8 takers already  We’ll include sleeping in 3 caves: Welbedacht, Nuwejaars and Asias Cave  with 2 full days at one of my favourite places in the world – Crystal Pools. And best of all – I get to plan the entire trip and be with people I enjoy.

It really is as simple as that.

Dream, Decide, Put it to a few friends and Plan it. You will be surprised – most folks are just waiting for someone to organise something.

I was walking my dog, Kevin, in the Green Point Park last week and a great friend of mine, Tony,  phoned and asked if I would be interested in a hike in “Schaap River Canyon” – I had never heard of it – such excitement – of course I said yes – so someone else planned a hike and enriched other folks lives.

We live on an amazing planet – just being up there looking down on the creation is worth all the effort in this crazy world.

So here is the thing, don’t wait for your ship to come in, it won’t  – you have to swim out and meet it.

So swim out – you are allowed to 🙂


Where On Earth Am I?

COMPASS READING: Your GPS has died and you are lost in the wild!

So our GPS batteries have died and we need desperately to know where we are. Fortunately we are careful hikers and we have packed a 1:20 000 map, a pencil and a standard hiking Polaris compass in our kit. We do know the names of two distant peaks (Call them Peak 1 and Peak 2. How will we go about “triangulating” our position?

We haul out our Map, pencil and compass. Find a relatively flat surface for our map.

Study the compass above and note the names of the components

  1. Point our compass at the first peak (Peak 1). When we do this we make sure that we aim the Direction of Travel Arrow directly at Peak 1.
  2. We turn the “N” on our Rotating Housing (with the Degree Dial) until the Orienting Arrow is exactly below the Red painted end of the Magnetic Needle. (ie. The magnetic needle fits perfectly into the Orienting Arrow).
  3. We can now stop pointing the compass at the peak because the angle is fixed on our compass.
  4. Read the angle between the “N” on the Rotating Housing and the Direction of Travel Arrow. (e.g 109°) This is the angle between the red Magnetic Needle and the Direction of Travel Arrow. (Note: Degrees are always read clockwise starting at “N” if no direction is indicated (e.g. East or West).
  5. Now adjust the angle to take into account the MAGNETIC DECLINATION of our location.
    • NB: IMPORTANT  NOTE ON DECLINATION: Remember that the compass needle does not point at the “True” North Pole. It points at the Magnetic North Pole which slowly migrates across the globe in the vicinity of the North Pole. As of May 2018 it is situated off the North Pole at 86°N/173°W). In Cape Town the Declination is 25° West (-25°). In Mumbai, India, the Declination is 0°, i.e. True North = Magnetic North!!. In Sydney Australia the Declination is 12° East (+12°).
  6. In our actual example we are have an angle of 109° between Magnetic North and Peak 1. To determine “True North” we must subtract 25° from 109°. This gives us an angle of 84° between True North and Peak 1.
  7. Now rotate the Rotating Housing to the right so that the angle between True North and the Direction Housing is 84° (East of North).
  8. Now we can place our compass on our Map and line up the meridian lines with the Grid on the Map. Thus True North is now lined up with the Grid lines on the map and the Orienting Arrow is pointing at 84° East. Once we have done this, we carefully slide the compass on the map until the one edge of the compass is exactly on Peak 1. Draw a pencil line towards where we are located.
  9. REPEAT for Peak 2 – e.g. Let us say that Peak 2 is located at 73° East of us. Now we must ADD 25° because Peak 2 is West of us. Thus 73° + 25° = 98° East,
  10. Place the Polaris compass on the Map again and line up the meridian lines with the Grid on the Map. Carefully shift the compass until the one edge of the compass is exactly on Peak 2. Draw a pencil line towards where we are located.
  11. Where these two lines intersect is our location (within a few feet / meters).
  • Any mistakes are my own – Let’s hope there are none!

Life is for the living

How many times have you waited for someone to organise an adventure?

That was me for many years. It slowly dawned on me that I could create my own adventures and invite others to share them. The helping hand was miraculously at the end of my arm!

I spent too long watching “Days of Other peoples’ lives”, instead of living my own life.

Once the penny dropped I was away. I have no idea how many weekends, day trips, climbs and longer events I have planned (many hundreds). What is wonderful is that so many people benefit from you simply being able / prepared to get an idea and then act on it. BUT FIRST you have to realise that you can do it – you ARE allowed to dream and plan.

I was once told about folks who needed help in building a business in Walvis Bay. So I phone a friend who I knew was able to help. He explained that he was going to help people in Tanzania, oh dear!!!

I then panicked a bit and phoned another friend who is also capable of assisting them – Guess what, he was literally off to Ghana to help folks there. So no one could help these people.

Then it dawned on me – Keith, why don’t you go and help them??? WOW, I had never thought of that before – you know I can do it!!! So I started planning it – and lo and behold, I went and it all went well. That was a HUGE eye opener to me – I don’t have to wait around for other to do everything – I can do it!!!

So, with that in mind, I thought that I would share my strategy with you:

I always use the following strategy when planning adventures: (Notice this is almost exactly like the Adventure Trip Plan done on the GASG Course. Editor)

BRAIN STORM – think of amazing adventures that you would like to be on as well as share with others. What about taking a group down the Fish River Canyon? (I’m taking a group down in September this year – I decided to!!), What about organising a group to do the Klipspringer trail at Augrabies Falls!! What about booking 10 on the “Whale Trail”? Or simply doing a day hike up Devil’s Peak or Dark Gorge”. The adventures are infinite.

E.g. As I write this article I am busy chatting to an MCSA buddy (Graham D.) about a wonderful weekend (last weekend) we had with 10 other friends in Steenboksberg, Bainskloof. While we were sitting around having supper, Roy M, told us of a camp up on the left hand ridge that he had visited about 40 years previously – it had water and we could camp there prior to launching a hike to Bailey’s Peak (1500m). So we did a little recce on Sunday morning but didn’t see anything promising. On the recce I used my Garmin Extrex 30 GPS to track the hike. At home I loaded this onto google Earth as a .kmz file and saw that we had stopped about 300m short of a heavily wooded and green area wher water may very well be found – we had not gone far enough. So, I am whatsapping Graham to suggest that sometime in March we invite everyone back to Steenboksberg and we do another recce up the ridge to check our ideas. This gives everyone another amazing weekend and a chance to have fun swimming and exploring the area. We can also update the hiking maps in the area. So, GET THE IDEA and ACT ON IT. MAKE IT HAPPEN

GATHER BETA (as much info as you can) on the event / venue / area. (GASG: Task 02 Educational)

PLAN in DETAIL (GASG: Task 03 Adventure Trip Plan)

  • Booking of venue, trail, camp – find out what you need to know.
  • Permits required (private land, mountain club land, National Parks land, etc..).
  • What transport is needed.
  • Meals (ideas, formats, spreadsheets) I always whatsapp a suggested meal format
    (i.e. food ideas for Day 1, 2, 3 etc.., morning, afternoon and evening)
  • Clothing (winter, summer) checklist – Never underestimate – always build in redundancy. Over prepare.
  • Equipment – checklist
  • Safety (Once again – redundancy – check, check check).
REMEMBER: There is No democracy around safety. NO EXCEPTIONS.
  • Collect info on your hiking members (i.e. what special talents can they bring to the group in case of emergency and just generally – maybe a nurse, a doctor, a mechanic, a guide, and so on).
  • Brain storm a lot of “What if’s”) – e.g. “What if a sudden snow storm occurs”, What if someone breaks a limb”, “What if there is no mobile coverage and we have an emergency”, and so on.

ADVERTISE (newsletter, word of mouth, web) – If it simply taking a non-paying group of friends you have advantage of knowing their capabilities and choosing folks you generally get along with. If you are advertising to take a paying group of customers, the selection process is much more complex – you don’t know them or their capabilities.

FILL PLACES – Firstly decide on a MAXIMUM number. As folks indicate they want in, keep an excel spreadsheet of their info: Names, Mobile no’s, Wild Card No’s, Payments, Can they provide transport, Ailments, etc..

STABILITY CHECKS VITAL: is the person capable of completing the hike / event – If they are not known to you, you have to ask them to fill in some sort of questionnaire – e.g. Have they ever hiked before, when last did they hike, can they easily climb Lion’s Head, Would they make it up and down Platteklip Gorge relatively comfortably, what allergies, other ailments do they have. Then be brutally honest – e.g. “You will not make it on this hike.”

COLLECT MONEY – if a paying adventure.

REGULAR NEWSLETTERS giving info and keeping interest up..

CREATE A WHATSAPP GROUP (eg. “Sprinboksberg Weekend 10-12March” and enter all participants names therein. Everyone is in touch with everyone.

DO ALL YOUR DEEP THINKING and then EXECUTE the actual event – DO IT!!!

FEEDBACK – When the event is over ask for feedback – for paying customers this is more important than it is for old friends.

THEN, VERY IMPORTANT: Immediately start to plan next adventure.

REMEMBER: – If it is to be, it is up to me. It is no good sitting around waiting for someone else to create adventures. This way you get to do the adventures you want to do. You can have as many adventures as you want. Above all you ENRICH other peoples’ lives.