Tequila AT – South Africa
Tequila AT South Africa 2011 – Team
The opportunity of a life time to carry out AT came up for our time in South Africa, where 7 brave souls placed there names down for.
The willing volunteers were as follows:
LPT Leon (No Bag) Taylor
LREG Woody (DHP for a year) Woodhall
PO Del (spit chin) Streeter
PO SI (Japanese tourist) Nelson
PO Scouse (Swan dive) McGAW
PO Noel (Planking) McNeilly
PO Al (Is that a cat) Slack
“There are more deaths on Table Mountain than on Mount Everest, due to being ill prepared and inexperienced” (Wildlife Magazine)
How did the name AT Tequila and nick names of the gallant 7 come about well, the Day before our adventure started we were invited to join False Bay Rugby club to watch South Africa’s opening world cup game. The motley crew were greeted at 9 am by a local loon by the name of Bob whose party trick was to force Tequila down your neck and meet heads technically a head butt!!!! Pre-preps for AT did not start well and the day grew in its alcohol induced haze continuing with bottles of carling and many shots of Tequila and head butts from Bob all be it friendly ones.
The team proved to show that no matter the huddles being placed in front of them the forth coming AT was on the tip of everyone’s tongue, as the whole team kept on asking our faithful trek leader what was happening in the morning which lead to the Quote of the day “can I not have a day off” LPT Leon (No Bag) Taylor. On the 1st day of our AT the true meaning of Tequila hit home waking to a thunderstorm of a headache and a mouth like Gandhi’s flip flop the team like Auto bots reformed ready if not willing to start our adventure. AT Tequila was born.
On arrival to the start point of the base of Table Mountain we met our guide for the next 5 days Chris. This guy was the South African Ray Mears, kitted out to the max and ready to show 7 hanging sailors what the mountains had to offer. After a very brief introduction he asked if we were ready. Which was met with a grumble and a hiccup and possible the passing of wind by the team, he said that the day was to be a tough on and hoped we were rested! If rested meant hanging after an epic show of hospitality from the rugby club the day before then no one was more ready than us! We soon hit reality when we seen the climb which faced us it could only be described as sheer, after 3 hours of walking this mammoth mountain we gave birth to the 1st nick name of the trip Del “no spit” Streeter, so named as when he had giving up all hope of surviving the first day due to the teams great preps the day before he tried to spit but only managed enough to reach his chin!! Chris our leader seen that Del had been running on pure alcohol and was hitting the wall fast and maybe need some help. He gave Del an energy gel and buckets of water within 10 minutes Del was running up the Hill and he was back in the game. After a rewarding but hard slog up Table Mountain we were treated to some amazing views simple breath taking, and worth the effort to get there to witness these sights. Chris the guide after a shaky start said he was pleased with the effort we had shown. His knowledge was second to none he showed us everything that was on offer from plant life to wild life and even the history surrounding the places we where visiting, our knowledge was growing, this unfortunately was ruined by a comment from Al” is that a cat” Slack when he stopped the whole team to point out a black and white house cat at the top of a mountain, however Chris then burst out with laughter to point out it was a burnt tree stump! Nice one Al.
After what seemed to be an eternity of walking we arrived at our 1st camp site Silvermine, before we entered camp Chris got the team together and in the politest way tried to tell us that it was a miracle we completed day one and that we should get plenty of water onboard and REST before the start of day two, in other words he put us on a beer ban and sent us to bed! The camp was breath taking high in the mountains we where treated to a cook house and an open fire pit with log seating around it, two man tents which were actually huts made from bamboo with beds inside with a veranda over looking the mountains. This was camping!
We woke on day two to some bad weather and the sound of Leon shouting “who’s got my bag”, after the team safeguarding they hadn’t touched Leon’s bag it was decided that Baboons had taking it during the night. When asked why his was the only bag taken he was told by Chris “as you were the only one to leave it outside!” another great impression thrust upon our guide. Day two brought many challenges, more hills and tired legs but we where all buzzing to get a good day of walking in. On arrival at our 1st peek of the day Chris grew concerned with the weather, it was closing in fast and became extremely cold. We informed him we were happy to push on but following our performance to date Chris felt it safer to take us back down and drive us to the next camp, turned out to be the right idea as the weather really took a turn for the worst. We arrived at the 2nd camp site Slangkop which was situated on the coast, as unbelievable as Silvermines camp site was, this place was so much better, again 2 man tents a cook house and a fire pit but we now had an indoor area with authentic “Braai” an open fire for cooking and a view to die for, crashing white horses beating the shore only yards away from where we was bedding down.
With our days walk being cut short due to weather we went to explore our surroundings. We ended up on the coast looking at 10 ft waves crashing onto the coast, the draw of the ocean was to much for a few members of the team and on Scouse saying “anyone fancy a dip” we were in. As naked as the day we were born we clambered over some boulders to reach the sand and make our way to the water, turns out the sea is quite cold at that time of year! Al ”is that a cat” stayed with Chris and reassured him that no one in the team had mental issues and this was just the way of a sailor, he informed Al that he thought we were a great bunch and a good laugh but even he wouldn’t swim on this part of the coast as Great whites regularly visit it!!!! Information I felt Al didn’t need as he was on dry land, the rest of the team however! Si was first out and carried on with his OCD photo taking hence the name SI “Japanese tourist” Nelson but thankfully for the team he was, as he captured some great phots. As the rest of the team made there way back onto dry land, thankfully with all limbs in tacked, Scouse’s name was then born. While making his way back up the boulders he slipped and fell head over heels and almost disappeared down a hole between the boulders given him the name Scouse (Swan dive) McGaw. After a great Spag Bol cooked by Del and a few glasses of vino the team retired to bed in what can only be described as 5 star camping luxury.
Day three was a scorcher which made for a great day walking the team powered on learning all the trail had to offer from our great guide Chris. We reached the top of Chapman’s Peak and were blown away with the views; it felt like we were on top of the world. Being so over whelmed with such beauty the team could not miss the opportunity to once again strip to our birthday suits and introduce Chris to “planking” the champ of which is Noel (Planking) McNeilly whom took it upon himself to aid Chris in this strange and unnecessary obsession. Chris we think is the first South African to plank on Chapman’s peak and to this day I still don’t thing he really understands why. The AT continued with 2 more days of trekking and a final stop at Smitwinkel campsite, they say to save the best to last and with this campsite certainly was the best. We had all the amenities we had grown to expect but this place was the Hilton of campsites wooden board walks everywhere en-suite tents, yes a shower and WC in our tents. On the veranda we had our own fire pits and fridge. We where set in the foot of the mountains all around was towering hillsides with Baboons running wild, this I think explained why Leon slept with all his clothes on and shoes under his pillow don’t think he could afford to take the chance.
The final night we ate like Kings a full on South African meat feast lovingly cooked by Scouse and Del the duty chefs and the rest of the team preparing the sides and drinks, it was all cooked over hot coals on the Bri which brought a wonderful taste to the vast amounts of meat on display. A special mention goes out to Woody “DHP for a year” Woodhall his sheer dedication to ensuring all the pots and pans were clean and stowed was an honour to his year as DHP well done Woody. Chris joined us for the last couple of nights, at ease with the 7 strange but welcoming sailors he found himself with on day one. The wine flowed and stories were told and all in all an experience had been lived. AT Tequila was a once in a life time experience and can not be summed up in a few paragraphs nor does it need to be, the real experience and feelings are with the 7 fateful souls and one trek leader Chris, only to be told over an open fire and glass of wine. AT Tequila 2011 was and will forever be an amazing adventure.
By PO AWW “Scouse” McGAW