Grin, Bear and Other Mountain Creatures – Ziplining in Africa

Some chuckles were recently had at my expense.

I’m not blaming anyone. In fact, I encourage chuckles. Chuckling is good for everyone – even the butts of the chuckles. It only helps to break down our egos. And our self-esteem. But who needs self-esteem?

I would just like to remind the chucklers, but mostly myself, of if not my bravery, then at least my potential for bravery.

The source of the scoffing was a quote I posted on Instagram… a quote from trailrunning god, Kilian Jornet.

“The secret isn’t in your legs,” Kilian writes in his book, Run or Die, “but in your strength of mind. You need to go for a run when it is raining, windy, and snowing, when lightning sets trees on fire as you pass them, when snowflakes or hailstones strike your legs and body in the storm and make you weep, and in order to keep running, you have to wipe away the tears to see the stones, walls, or sky.”

The scoffing followed me having a (if you ever repeat that I uttered this word I will deny it, even though it will be written here for all to see, I will still deny it, in the way my President and probably your President has taught me) fanny-wobble on our hike to find the shipwreck along the coast of Sandy Bay.

I do not like the sea. Unless I’m in Madagascar. I do not like tides. I don’t like it when they come in and I don’t trust them when they go out. This tide was coming in and our time to clamber over the slippery rocks to see the first shipwreck and still return to land before the tide covered said slippery rocks – our only entrance and exit – well, time was ticking. I don’t know how fast or slowly, but it was ticking. And I was scared. I had already slipped and ripped off part of a nail and bruised my right arse cheek. Also, walking over the rusty metal skeleton of a ship long gone is just asking for a severed leg or a metal rod through an eyeball.

So when I posted Kilian’s words of courage, the sentiment seemed out of place. For a person like me. Laughable, clearly. I’ll admit, I’m more likely to hide in the corner of a crowded children’s jumping castle than head out on a trail in snow or lightning. In fact, please see previous blog where lightning strikes my guide while out on a trail.

Which brings me to the next point…

In spite of that harrowing encounter – the lightning striking our zipline while high up in the mountains of Elgin, I still returned. To zipline. In Elgin. Because I’m brave like that. Yes, my eyes might have told a different story as we began sliding down thin wires through the craggy Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve.

My smile might have appeared as more of a grimace than a show of sweet, brave bliss.

But I didn’t chicken out. I went the whole nine yards, or rather, 13 platforms, 11 slides and a swing bridge. And I did it, eventually, with new-found, yes, unexpected, joy. I braved the snow, lightning and butterflies in my stomach, and wiped away the tears to see the stones, walls and sky. I don’t think Kilian would scoff at that.

Granted, there was a family of five with three small children along with us on the ride past waterfalls and through tortuous valleys. I had no choice but to grin and bear it. Those kids will never know what they did for me. My courage might have begun as a pretense, but soon, I can almost promise you, I was ready to do it with my eyes open.

Find out more about the Cape Canopy Tours in Elgin here, and read, Moody Mountains, for a better look at why sometimes bravery is not the answer.

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