RIVER DEEP, MOUNTAIN HIGH
By Ciaran Grey of Nansen Tent
On Saturday the 5th of July we left Quiet Waters to begin our team-building course hosted by the Outward Bound team, situated in the Chimanimani mountains bordering Zimbabwe and Mozambique. We were greeted with smiles and breathtaking mountains that made one feel completely miniscule in the grand scheme of things. We were introduced to Simba and Joe who would be our instructors for the challenging week ahead. We all took a great liking to their fun and hands on attitude towards us.
On our first night we were asked about both our goals and our fears, and we learnt that this week would help us discover more about ourselves and how we as an individual can both achieve our goals and conquer our fears as we move forward into the next sector of our lives after Quest.
Activities such as Jacob’s Ladder and the Pamper Pole taught us that to be an effective team and to accomplish a common goal we need to trust in each other. Many of us had to face our fear of heights in these challenges as well in the rock climbing and abseiling we did in on our first few days at the camp. On Tuesday we set off in the late hours of the day into the mountains where we would be sleeping for the next 3 nights. Our first camp was the base of 50m cliff. This beast was where we would be doing our more challenging rock climbing and abseiling ventures the next morning. Our first night out brought a slumber that was rudely interrupted by showers in the middle of the night, and with nothing but freezing clouds between us and the stars the night was cold and long for those who were unable to find some sort of shelter from the weather. The next morning was cold and our nerves for the task ahead didn’t help the shivering, however everyone was able to get over their fears and complete both the 50 meter ascend and descent. We then came back down the misty mountain to our camp for breakfast – gas cookers were lit as we spoke about our adrenaline-filled experience 30 minutes prior. Coffee and rusks were shared among the mountain men before we packed up and headed towards our next camp. We hiked though fantastic scenery to the foot of Mount Peza where we hid our backpacks from opportunistic gold panners passing through the area. We began the brutal ascent that Peza had promised us after a long day with our packs on, and both our physical and mental strength was tested to its limits. The draining climb was well worth the amazing view from on top of the peak. We spent a while admiring the trig beacon that represented the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique. We then headed back down to our packs and headed to Red Wall Cave where we would stay for the night. After another uneasy night (this time not due to rain, but rather terror from stories that the instructors told us about a headless ghost that walked these caves) we woke up to overcast skies and continued our adventures through the Chimanimani mountains to the base Queza, the highest peak in Mozambique. This hike was more strenuous than the day before but the Quest men pulled together and reached the peak above the clouds where we looked over miles of both Mozambique and Zimbabwe on either side of us. We admired the well-earned view, and then set off back down to the bottom of the peak with our knees slowly buckling after the days hike. Working off little food, we crossed rivers and washed ourselves in the icy cold mountain streams before heading up to a small old house. This was our protection from the cold night that lay ahead. We cooked the remainders of our food and dried our soaking wet clothes by the fire. Jo and Simba decided to share some more of the slightly frightening stories of these mountainous landscapes. Our last day was spent manoeuvring ourselves down the slippery mountain sides while we admired the last of the stunning views. Exhausted and happy to be back, we showered our dirty bodies and spent the night having a celebratory beer and braai with the mountain men which lead to Tim Rath impressing us with his new trance music later on in the evening. Another delicious meal cooked by the Outward Bound chef set us off with a full stomach while we said our goodbyes to the team that had been taking care of us through our hiking excursion. If there’s one thing we can take away from this week is that just as you have to endure the steep climb to experience the fantastic view, in life no reward or goal can be achieved without perseverance, sweat and in some cases blood. The week was thoroughly enjoyed by all as we continue to discovery ourselves as men.