80 hikes, 80 years old…

Hugh Middleton's 79th ascent at West Peak

Every so often, you meet someone quite extraordinary, with an incredible tale to tell. I recently had the pleasure of meeting Hugh Middleton.

Hugh has become somewhat of a Helderberg Mountain legend in the past six years, having hiked to the West Peak 79 times (yes, you read that right – 79 times).

And he’s not slowing down. In fact, you may hear a bit of whinging from the groups of hikers he escorts up to the West peak – Hugh is just too fast. As a regular hiker and trail runner, and having been up to the West Peak a few times, I dared to ask him how fast is fast. Quickest time, 3 hours 30 minutes. Stunned silence from me. By the way – Hugh is 79 years old.

Hugh’s 79th hike was last Saturday – and he was accompanied by a group of friends and fellow hikers to share this special moment. Hugh turns 80 in December, and will be spending a “restful” day racing up to the West Peak for the 80th time, accompanied by his three sons for a memorable family celebration.

Hugh – you are a true inspiration. Congratulations – and on behalf of the Friends of the Helderberg, we wish you many more happy hours spent on the mountain.

By the way, Hugh didn’t understand why we were making such a fuss about this remarkable achievement. I told him it was for the mountain, to inspire more people to climb the mountain and discover the joys of hiking in this pristine reserve.

If you are inspired and would like information about joining the guided hikes, contact Don Reid at donald.reid@telkomsa.net, or keep up to date with events via Facebook or visit www.helderbergnaturereserve.co.za

Anne is a Friend of the Nature Reserve.