Thursday, April 12, 2007

xtreme ironing - gatberg

Life is all about the little luxuries in life: hiking between towering peaks of the Drakensberg, the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning, pancake with lots of cinnamon and sugar (no lemon!) in rainy weather, make-up in the morning, a facial scrub before you go to bed, lycra by day and down by night, a proper supper with lots of fresh veggies, neatly pressed clothes.


A girl must know how to organise. Especially if you love life's little luxuries.

Organising a hike in the Drakensberg is easy enough. If you happen to like pancake for breakfast, then you take someone with who knows how to bake them. If you like veggies, then you carry them up the mountain & insist that you get the first cooking-turn (to contain the weight in your backpack.) If you want to make-up & scrub in a mountain, then you keep an eye open for miniature lipsticks, creams, lotions & potions to keep the weight of your backpack within manageable proportions. If you like good coffee, then you invest in a gadget that can brew fresh Mocha Java on the top of the Drakensberg Escarpment (and carry condensed milk to drink it with, of course). If you like lycra & down, you can bend your MasterCard to your heart's content (or merely until it's maxed out) at the Capestorm-shop in Bryanston.

The neatly pressed clothes, however, proved a bigger challenge. Clothes out of a backpack just never look tidy, no matter how carefully you packed it. It seemed that there were some things, after all, that your MasterCard couldn't buy.

That was about to change, though, with the discovery of the D&D crowd, a slightly crazy writer's club constantly in search of (usually nocturnal) adventures so that they have something to write about. After some careful research, it seemed that there were people willing to carry the ironing board & iron up the mountain for you. The extreme ironing-challenge was on, and Gatberg was the ideal spot.

The Extreme Iron-team couldn't stand the idea of other people having fun & them not being part of it, so the adventure had to start with the Easter weekend's Thursday-night-ride - a 45-kay Dark & Dirty. After the ride, some of the extreme ironists showered while the rest of the team packed Weazul's car - the only car in the team that would (almost) fit four people, four backpacks and a tent. They were on their way.

Somewhere before Harrismith the SleepMonster attacked the team members, so we stopped for two hours at a Wimpy while Weazul & Daemon entertained us with stories of funnily-rigged abseils & strange rock-climbing-techniques. Great for boosting your confidence in the team's abilities.

Arrived at Monk's Cowl early on Friday morning, signed the mountain rescue register, and sat down for a long breakfast: espresso, cappuccino, bacon, eggs, scones & cream. Just before lunch we ran out of excuses, so we had to start the hike up to the contour path.

Lots of excitement & attention from fellow-hikers – what on earth were we planning to do with the ironing board in the mountain? One grumpy old girl with wrinkled clothes complaining about mountain ethics. (What? Who wants to look Dark Wrinkled & Dirty like her, if you can look Neat & Tidy like us?)

Before long we found the first ironing spot. Extreme Ironman Jacques scaled the boulder & we waited for innocent hikers & passers-by to witness the spectacle. The disbelief and surprise on their faces –something your MasterCard can't buy! The girl, not noticing your backpacks with the ironing board at the waterfall, asking Weazul if he saw the people with the ironing board, speculating what they are up to – something else your MasterCard can't buy.

The previous night's lack of sleep caught up with us, & we stopped at the first possible camping spot. Some of the team members caught a bath in the mountain stream, but most of the team members just sat around. Jacques pitched the tent. Jacques pitched the ironing board & plugged the iron into a tree. Jacques fetched water. Jacques ironed. Jacques did pretty much everything to do in and around a camp. A very handy camping tool indeed!

More innocent passers-by speculated about our intentions with the ironing board.

Saturday morning broke rainy and wet, but we were oblivious – slept until about 11 or something. Daemon complained about sleeping next to Weazul, everyone complained about sleeping in the same tent than Daemon, Weazul baked some pancakes for a late breakfast, and Jacques broke up the camp, fetched water, washed dishes, and did about everything there is to do around a camp in the morning. Then we hiked into the rain.

By the time we arrived at the campsite below Gatberg, we were soaking wet. It would be impossible to take the Gatberg ironing-pictures in that weather, so we called it a day. Some of the team members caught a bath in the mountain stream. Most of the team members just sat around. Jacques pitched the tent in the rain. Jacques pitched the ironing board & plugged the iron into a tree in the rain. Jacques fetched water in the rain. Jacques ironed in the rain. Jacques did pretty much everything to do in and around a camp in the rain.

Weazul had some mountain-mix with tadpoles for lunch.

The girl in the team had to go fetch the water needed for the evening meal & coffee because Daemon was too scared of the Drakensberg-cats that was about to attack him. He redeemed himself, though, with a scrumptious pasta-supper – the man can cook!

The man can cook, but he SO cannot make morning-coffee! By the time he found the pot, figured out how to operate the stove, found the coffee, measured the coffee, got water out of a bladder into the pot, found a spoon, found the condensed milk, and figured out how the coffee-gadget worked, everyone was wide awake – he'll just have to keep practising morning-coffee until he gets it right.

It was still raining. We climbed Gatberg sans the ironing board – extreme ironing in that weather would not be possible – and would indeed be dangerous. Visibility was so restricted that we accidentally found ourselves on TOP of Gatberg's gat, instead of INSIDE it. Thank you, Weazul, for giving me a hand when I felt slightly insecure and unstable on those loose rocks :)

On our way back to the camp, a few hikers were coming down into the campsite from the other side – their body-language showed their surprise when they saw the ironing board neatly pitched next to the tent – more stuff your MasterCard can't buy.

By the time we arrived back at the campsite, Daemon was in the mood for some serious adventure-race-training, so we decided to break up camp and walk straight out. Jacques washed dishes, made coffee, packed up the wet tent, packed just about everyone's backpacks, and did pretty much everything that needs to be done in and around a camp. Did I mention that we were wet? The gentlemen in the team graciously allowed the girl to bath and put on dry clothes at the first possible waterfall, and then we walked off into the sunset and into the night.

We spent the night in a warm dry place after Weazul baked some more pancakes, & on Monday morning we headed home via the touristy route – doing all the touristy things like shopping in touristy towns & looking at touristy Lesotho-waterscheme-pipes.

A great weekend with great people – thank you guys!


- Jacques, the incredible camping tool

- Weazul & Daemon – an entertainment system on legs

- Mich – for lending us your tent; we would've been seriously wet in mine :)