Climbing a Tall Mountain in a Small World

We had final made it to yet another sunny day! Meghan and I took advantage of this wonderful opportunity to go climb some mountains. We began the day with a hike up Lion’s Head, a moderate level hike up a rock face that yielded 360 degree views of Capetown, the mountains, and the harbor. Throughout the climb, we experienced breathtaking views of the ocean, cliffs, and the small towns that sprung up at each hospitable valley or shore. Lion’s Head was the shortest of the three main summits—Table Mountain itself and Devil’s Peak are the others. However, it was not without its own hurdles.

The climb included areas of chains and footholds where the fallback was a barbed wire fence. The thought of slipping and landing in our so-called safety net was worse then the idea of my nervous and sweaty palms sliding off the slippery silver support holds. There were other areas where the rock faces were so steep that ladders were nailed into the rock (with no rails) to facilitate the climb. Somehow, we found ourselves at the top a little over an hour after we began our trek. I’m still curious about how the toddlers and puppies we passed made it.

After reluctantly abandoning the breathtaking view from atop Lion’s Head, Meghan and I made our way back to the base of the peak. From there, we went a few miles further to Table Mountain. Once there, we boarded the cable car and made it to the top in less then five minutes. We were atop the looming shadow that greeted us no matter where we went in the city—it was breathtaking.

After grabbing a quick bite to eat at the top, we stepped outside to see the sunset and walk around the top of the mountain. That’s where we met Andy and his friend. Our chance encounter reinforced the idea of a small world, thoroughly interconnected and full of coincidences. Andy and his friend were at the top of the mountain taking pictures together to commemorate his visit to South Africa. They approached me to take a snap of them with the sunset in the background. After this, we ran into the couple again at the gift shop.

They overheard us calling for a cab and offered to give us a ride home. As cautious travellers, we politely refused. Immediately, Andy reassured us that he too was an American like us and we had nothing to worry about. As we spoke, turns out he is a former law student, freshly graduated. Moreover, he has a close friend at William & Mary Law. He told me his friend was Connor Baer, the very person for whom I was buying a souvenir at the gift shop. Connor is a close friend and member of my firm back at W&M. The coincidence was striking. With this connection established, Meghan and I were comfortable accepting the ride back to the hostel.

Along the way we learned of the couple’s story—they met during a vacation and reconnected years later on Facebook. And more than that, we realized that no matter how far we go, we will always be connected to our home. Just two months after that chance encounter, I ran into Andy again. This time, it was in a Pennsylvania farm for Connor’s wedding.