Yesterday evening when we got to Hawklee Country House my body was so weary but the lovely refreshing shower was just what I needed. This is the only point along the Lions river walk where we are staying over under a proper roof and what a roof it is! The chalets are under beautiful thatched roofs and each one is its own quiet getaway on the bank of the Lions River. I always feel like a naughty schoolboy covered in river water and mud when I enter beautiful homes along these walks but Belinda and Dean just made us feel so comfortable it was magical.
Also magical was the evening we had with the surrounding neighbours and community who came over with snacks and great conversation but on all of our lips and minds was the river which meandered before us. We knew that without this river and the others that flow in this catchment many livelihoods, lifestyles, and even basic survival will be seriously jeopardised. Many people ask me why I walk rivers and I am sure many have asked Penny too. On a Planet which is covered in more than 70% water and yet only 0,003% of that is freshwater available to us in the water cycle and even less of that found in rivers which we rely on, few people realise what a knife edge we on.
We started off in the morning, after restful sleep and a delightful breakfast, saying goodbye to our hosts and we met up with Lynford Clark who took us on a tour of his farm. He is actively seeking to control the invasives on his farm but both the aquatic and terrestrial types continue to rear up.
We then head of into the river to do our river data collections, both the mini SASS and our methylblue tests. The water is full of sediment below the dam and the river is hardly here and we get a very low score of 5.2 meaning the river is in poor condition.
Walking continuously, our data collection methods have been made easier with help from Groundtruth and our thanks to Mohamed who plotted the river for us on our maps. Working with this and the useful data sheet we are able to measure the impacts we encounter along the way, hopefully this will inspire more citizen science and help us get a more complete picture of all our river basins. We passed through a delightful spot where the river flows through shady glens and rock pools where we had a short rest.
We then passed through thickets of bramble
and a severely drained river
She was hardly there, just snaking along slowly robbed of her splendour.
Penny and I began to discuss how today being Heritage Day when South Africans all over our beloved country are celebrating. Yet should not the real celebrations be at these natural heritage sites where we should give thanks to the land and river that sustains us.
Is this heritage that we are now leaving to our children to inherit?
Being a very hot day we made a point of taking regular 10 minute breaks
and hacking our way through bramble thickets,
passing endless wetlands, some with historical drainage ditches,
with the river almost always showing signs of nutrient overload,
we came to a wetland.
The clouds turn a darker shade as we prepare for our route tomorrow. I wouldn’t change where I am for anything (except maybe for a river with more fish) and I hope this storm can be weathered – both the elemental one closing in and the one we have to deal with in a world with a dwindling natural heritage.