A Suspense story... THE BRIDGE!
By Andrew Friedemann, S.M. Outdoor Activities, 1st Hillcrest Scout Troop, Natal/Kwazulu area
6 p.m on Friday 30th March (1984) saw 35 Scouts from 1st Hillcrest leave their Scout Hall for a 4-hour night hike, negotiating two valleys and a cliff-face. to the site of a weekend of hard pioneering.
We were to attempt a record-breaking monkey bridge which would span two cliff faces 57 metres apart, and a river 35 metres below. At 6:30 am on Saturday we got busy with holdfasts and sheerlegs. The 'Deadman' holdfast was 2 metres deep, with a concrete railway sleeper instead of the usual pole.
At 9 a.m, while testing a damp mainline, the first catastrophe hit us- it broke. Then the rain poured down but the boys, with true Scout spirit, insisted that we carry on with the project. Later, two and a half hours behind time, we got the four mainlines tight- double foot rope and two single hand ropes. It is now 1.30 p.m
The long, laborious task of putting the 10mm rope strings along the length of the bridge began. In addition to the usual structure there were bamboo cross-pieces between the handrails, every 4 metres, to keep them equidistant.
At 5.30 p.m, with 10 metres left to complete, we knocked off for a braai and a camp fire. 10.45 p.m. found us tucking up for the night and - as we were roughing it - we slept under the stars, and the rain, with only the trees for shelter. "This is great," said one Scout, "it's the first camp where I don't have to keep clean!"
At 6:30 a.m on Sunday morning, with clear skies and sunshine, we were back on the bridge, and completed by 8 a.m.
Everyone crossing the bridge recieved a Nut Award which consisted of a plastic shoestring with metal nuts on the end, Wood Badge style. You HAD to be nuts to cross our monstrosity, but even our Group Scouter made it.
At 11:30 a.m. we starting dismantling 'The Bridge' and were ready for the trip home by 3 p.m. One parent said to his son: "But it wasn't worth it, for such a short time?" His sone replied: "It wasn't up for long, but WE DID IT!"