May Day 2: We lost the river and found it again

After a wonderful breakfast prepared by Wendy all thanks to her, it was time for us  to hit the river. We first began by strategizing on the trig beacon just above Greg  and Wilma’s beautiful house.

 John took us down to the bridge where our walk began.

It so amazing to find out about the rich history of this area, we started our walk in an area that was meant for development but, because of the richness of the area it wasn’t allowed.  We went through a fairy forest margin where we spotted baby Yellowwood trees in a cluster of Guarris, Ouhout and other indigenous tree species we couldn’t identify.

We continued our walk hopping on boulders, unfortunately our camera man (Sphiwe) was the first one to slip and wet his pants.  This was just  after we had said the Kwan Ying water blessing, which we will do each morning before we start walking. Luckily the camera was saved even though the film did get a little wet.

As our support vehicle is not a 4×4, we could not drive up to the top of the gorge where we left off yesterday, so this meant today we walked upstream.

We hit sections of the river where the young wattles, pine and bugweed trees were way too close to the river bed but then there were other sections where there were signs of otter, mongoose, baboons and certain antelope.

 We carried on the rock hopping/ skating mission upstream then we got to a section where the river forked and to the left was a two metre waterfall and to the right was just more rocks, we all went up the waterfall side and realised that hey! we had lost the river! it was a huge dry boulder bed, no flow whatsoever; confusion and frustration set in as we ventured on and on, finding three dry boulder beds with the river thundering underground.

We eventually found the main stream and followed as it twisted west climbing steeply into the gorge.

Huge boulders lay piled on top of each other, taxing our agility at the end of a long hard walk.

All day we had stunning indigenous forest on our right bank, Yellowwoods and various other tall forest trees filtering the sunlight through them.

The river course alternating between boulders and clear still pools, often lined with mossy banks.

By late afternoon we realised that we may have to turn around before reaching the top of the plateau, and kept saying “just 200 metres more”, and up and up we kept going, the boulders getting bigger an bigger the higher we climbed. At last the plateau was visible at the head of the gorge but it was too late to continue and we sadly had to leave the river.

We had the option of walking back along the ridge which would have been quicker, or up and over the hill which was very strenuous and we climbed 5,941 feet above sea level straight up to the trig beacon – that took us next to a wattle plantation which we had to negotiate.

We walked deeper into the plantation, in very bad light with the mist approaching and with relief we found the road and headed back to our pick up point.

Synchronicity kicked in and we met with Delia Ferguson whose father had farmed in the area for 80 years and his father before him – so we will get her account of the areas history soon. Down the road the bread oven (panel van) was waiting for us to take us to our accommodation for the night. The mist had come down but thanks to our driver we all arrived in one piece.  Greg offered us some beer, while we were waiting for supper to get warm and thanks to Merril King and Vonnie Munk for preparing us such delicious food and not forgetting Tamara for yesterday’s dinner.

The whole team is looking forward to Mayday 3…… Let’s just do it.

Written by Penelope and Sithembiso Sangweni (isithumba DUCT River Care Team)

Preven Drinking pure water on MayDay 2!


About Nikki Brighton

I live in Howick, between the river and the hills. I enjoy pre-dawn walks in the streets with my dog, sitting on the veranda with crochet and tea, and harvesting vegetables outside the kitchen door.
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3 Responses to May Day 2: We lost the river and found it again

  1. Stuart Winckworth says:

    Enjoying the tale of your rambles and the photos make it really come alive. The only problem is that there is no place in SA at an altitude of 5941m. The Drakensberg escarpment is about 3000m above sea level.

  2. Tamara says:

    What a beautiful story you all are weaving together! I am certainly enjoying the story and photographs as it unfolds! Thinking of you all…plod on!

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