The Big Cape Town Clean Up

Ended up assisting on a Mountain Rescue…

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About a month back, The 2 Oceans Aquarium teamed up with 5FM radio station, Cape Town Beach Cleanup, Sea Shepherd South Africa and Love our Trails hosting The Big Cape Town Cleanup and as my Saturdays are now relatively open, I could go!  YAY!  Even though my daughter is a Young Biologist at the Aquarium, she unfortunately could not make it L

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Photo Cred- 2 Oceans Aquarium

A week ago, they announced the 5 points where the clean-ups will happen viz Milnerton & Green Point beaches, Joe Slovo, Liesbeek River and Lion’s Head.  As most people would rush to sea-level clean-ups, I as a mountain lover (not that I don’t love the ocean –I’ve assisted on Beach Clean Ups before and will do so again in future.  Also stopped using plastic straws when I saw a video of a straw being pulled out of a turtle’s nostril – WARNING: Graphic removal of plastic straw .  There’s also videos where marine life poops out balloons and various pieces of plastic or plastic is found in their tummies after autopsies L ) I chose to do the Lion’s Head clean up. Plastic and rusted cans are harmful to wildlife who chews on Styrofoam etc and rusted cans etc are harmful to the fynbos and assist erosion.  Also, when our vicious South Easter blows, the plastic will inevitably be blown into the ocean.

Anyway,  I’m at the start of Lion’s Head before 10am and get Sanparks Ranger Aslam Levy and his crew who will be assisting us on the clean up ^_^ We all gather around but not before sorting the litter from the overflowing bins.

We are briefed on what exactly is going to happen with the litter we pick up (which made the Digital News – The Big Cape Town Clean Up on SABC news)

With a show of hands, we are divided in groups – those who will be cleaning up along the parking, those sticking to the contour path and those going up to the peak.  I obviously chose to go up to the peak ^_^

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Off we go shortly after 10am armed with our bags, gloves and tongs.  The younger ones amazed how easily I spot bottles ‘hidden’ in the bushes.  I’m an ‘expert’ at this haha.  My eyes have become attuned as to what does not belong in the fynbos. Its easy enough picking up litter at the start of the path but the higher we go, the more challenging it becomes as we have to go down and we were warned at the briefing that the soil is loose and the vegetation sensitive.  This is how new paths are created.

Sanparks Ranger Aslam is not only assisting us with the clean-up but on duty as well and chat to other hikers with friendly hellos ‘are you enjoying yourselves?’ and warn some about hiking with glass bottles.  If they should fall with the glass bottle and it shatters, they could fall on the shards and pierce themselves.

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I didn’t go up to the various caves and do not forget to take photos of the scenery ^_^ its not just ugly litter scattered about.  We also chat about our various individual and group clean-ups.  How we heard about The Big Cape Town Clean-Up and our various mountain activities viz Hiker, Rock-climber or trail-runner J

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Just before taking the bend around Signal Hill, I take a short break as I am so very hot!  I take out my wet-wipes (biodegradable) for a quick clean up as my face is gritty with dust and re-apply sun-block.  I was wearing my daughter’s 2 Oceans Aquarium T-Shirt which is not breathable quick-drying material and I’m wet with sweat.

My bag is getting heavy and I throw it over my shoulder as I climb up the ladders.  I was also the only one in our group to crush the plastic bottles and cans (learnt this neat trick from the Friends of Lion’s Head on our Woman’s Day clean-up Woman’s Day Clean UP)  Takes up less space so can carry even more bottles and cans.

I get to a precarious section where I would need assistance retrieving a bottle and wait on the others to catch up with me.  One guy decided to go down and get it and I assist him.  Sanparks Ranger Aslam gives us a stick for him to hold on to.  Clever!  He also manages to pick up a lighter which I originally thought to be a bottle!  Fire starter right there!   No pics of this moment but when Sanparks Ranger Aslam went down assisted to pick up a bottle, I took pics ^_^

3 of us opted to go around the safer longer path, bypassing the chains and its queues.  My bag was just too heavy and awkward to do that climb anyway.  Just below the chains (on the safer route), hidden under a tree, it looked like a rubbish dump! Got this cleaned up nicely.

Take a little breather before climbing up and enjoy the views and Dassies playing about J

Up and round we go and just before meeting up with the normal path again (before The Tree), a guy ask me if I’m with the Sanparks guys and I tell him yes.  About 10 meters up, a lady is injured with a busted knee.  I get to her and she cannot move it at all.  I then phone Aslam who is less than 5 minutes behind me.  I make sure she has enough water and that she has sun-block and give her some of my snacks.

A feeling of déjà vu as something similar happened on a hike with my brother, daughter and nephew.  Hiking down Lions Head, a girl broke her ankle and I called for Mountain Rescue and stayed with her until she was extracted via Skymed.  Told my brother that they needn’t wait for me as it will take a while and I would find my own way home.  A week later, she thanked me with a candle ^_^

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Aslam checks her knee and it’s bad.  He made the call immediately for Skymed as there’s no way she could be carried down.  This was around 12pm and told them that after the rescue, I am not going to the peak as I have to be down by 2pm to pick my daughter up at UCT.

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With clean-up aborted and waiting on Skymed, we keep other hikers away from her as she cannot be moved from the path so they have to go around.  Aslam puts on his reflective bib and ask me to put on his red jacket to be more visible to Skymed (in this heat?! O_O but I comply with his request).   Shortly after, we had to clear the path.  I go up and sit on the ladder with the other guy (I totally forgot his name now O_O) go down to The Tree stopping hikers from passing.  Much to the annoyance of some as they have others waiting on them to which I replied that I have to pick up my 16 year old daughter at UCT at 2pm so we are in the same situation and nothing we can do about it.  I do apologise for the inconvenience caused to the more civilised understanding hikers lol.

Skymed arrives shortly before 1pm and we all take photos and videos to the misfortune of the patient.  2 of them are lowered down and as assessing and bandaging the patient is going to take a while, Skymed fly off and wait at the Landing Zone.  Sanpark Rangers and Metro Police blocking off the road for Skymed and ambulance.  Mountain Rescues are a big thing!

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When the patient is extracted, Skymed drops her off at the Landing Zone to be taken by ambulance to hospital, we allow some of the hikers to go up and down but block them again when Skymed comes back to collect the medics.

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The rescue mission was done by 1:30pm and I have to rush back down and notice my bag is still at The Tree which I swiftly collect and as I can’t go down the chains with it, I had no option but to take the longer route.

Below the chains, Aslam is still in the queue to come down, he calls out that I can leave my bag there and he will kindly take it down for me.  I thank him and go down the Wally’s Cave route.  I’m down by 2pm and brief the guy from Love our Trails and rush off to my car at Kloof Nek car park.

Love Our Trails has my email address and I will gladly join them on their clean-ups when I am available ^_^

If anything, I do hope this post will make you more aware about the dangers of plastic, bottles and straws and that recycled litter will be put to good use (As per video mentioned above)  I don’t know how many bags were filled collectively but the stats should be posted somewhere.

Albums can be viewed here –Aquarium Facebook Album

PS- The clean up was yesterday (Saturday).  No mountain adventures for me today as I assisted Ommiedraai with their Water Tables for the Cape Town Marathon.  The hardest part of this job is picking up the hundreds and hundreds of empty water sachets blown about by today’s gale force winds.  We wouldn’t want any of that blowing into the ocean.

Until my next mountain adventure, ciao for now and thank you for reading J

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