May Day 18: Canyons and Stone Flies

Two things kept me from enjoying a deep sleep last night – our Director of Transport, John’s snoring and an encounter with an angry scorpion, just as I was climbing into bed. John, who was still reading, started dishing out some wild instructions as to how we should rid ourselves of this intruder. I noticed that, because said intruder was in my bed, he did not bother to give any practical assistance. This morning our host Stella said there are “a lot” around at the moment. Guess who’s sleeping on top of the cupboard tonight? (Can scorpions climb that high?)

Otherwise we walked and walked. Some really picturesque parts of the river today, with sheer rocky outcrops and cliffs on the north-east bank

The river winds her way down a canyon that has to be the most spectacular in South Africa, and almost no one knows about it! Our walk was entirely on the south bank or river right.

We experienced some relatively easy walking, approximately 2km after our starting point, along an overgrown track.

We passed old settlements, a grave, nguni cattle and some alien plant-free areas, with giant Euphorbias, Land Rover Papwieliensis (Sickle Bush), tall aloes on the hill slopes and Sycamore Figs on the rivers edge.

Gary Behn told us that this area had been cleared by Working for Water teams about 2 years ago, and this part of the river is proof that the program is effective – our mini SASS score produced loud whoops of joy – we found Stone Fly – the highest scoring invertebrate, and our final score was the best we have had on the entire river – 8.8!

Further downstream we came across a steady alien plant infestation, with Chromaleana odorata now occurring regularly, and we ended the day  at an area previously sand mined. It was not rehabilitated, and the great holes and hillocks have now covered with grasses, but the alien vegetation is everywhere in huge amounts.

We were lucky today, as Andrew Booth dropped us off at the river and collected us later.

We had two visitors to boost our spirits along the way – first Gary arrived by motorbike

and then Doug Burden arrived and ate our lunch. Nice to see you back in the saddle. Just in case you forgot, please thank Elspeth, for the lovely grub on Monday night.

Submitted by: Mike Farley




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 18: Canyons and Stone Flies

  1. Pam Haynes says:

    So thrilled about the good news of the presence of stone fly – there is hope at the end of the walk!! I am convinced this river walk is going to change our perception and help us to see what we can do for this incredible uMngeni river that flows through our lives. Looking forward to seeing you on the 27th May at the Blue Lagoon. Thanks for your dream Penny and to all of you for taking up the challenge. Walk carefully! Best wishes. Pam Haynes

  2. TJ says:

    Good job. Could you please let us know the GPS coordinates of where u start and stop ur walks each day? Especially of the Umgeni through the Cumberland area in the last few days…?

  3. Vonnie Munk says:

    Cannot wait to read each days adventures savour the wonderful photographs and respect the incredible journey you are undertaking Amazing so far Go well. Vonnie M

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