Day 4 – How Wet are our Wetlands?

The day started with a Fish Eagle call and a fight through undergrowth in a wattle infested section of the river bank.P1220648

After which the pleasant surprise of quiet pasturesP1220652

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Today was an endless succession of drainage ditches,

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fence crossingsP1220662

and fighting our way through thick bush

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We were extremely relieved to get through the bush and finally reach the river, and decided that negotiating wetlands and drainage ditches would be preferable, so after a rest

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and a water sample,P1220703

we crossed the river at the only possible place. P1220705

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We discovered a delightful oxbow lake – should be called a horse shoe lake!

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and looking up we were thrilled to see Inhlosane – our guiding beacon all through the first week of the walk down the uMngeni River last year.P1220743

And then we hit the drainage ditches, and had to make a plan to cross the extremely soggy channels – throwing clumps of sod and grass as stepping stones worked.P1220729

Things degenerated to hedges of brambleP1220739

and enormous drainage ditches feeding water from the wetlands to the riverP1220764

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We eventually found a section of river with a small cascade suitable for mini sass – the first in many miles, and the highest score so far – a miserable 6.2 indicating only fair condition – and this is some of the healthiest river we have seen since near the source. Prev took the chance to have a quick swim thereafter.

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We walked along an old dyke along the river,P1220799

always leaving gates as we found themP1220816

and then realised that somewhere behind the dyke was the original Lions River – decades ago a massive channel was dug and the river re-routed to now flow across what were once a long time ago extensive wetlands. The channel is about 30 metres deep, infested with wattles.P1220818

A road or train would fit down there.

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This river has been almost exterminated! From here we could see that we were on a small plateau, bordered by a hill of dolerite boulders. Pretty Merwilla plumbea (Scilla natalensis) lifted our spirits after all the destruction we had been witnessing.

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and then our spirits then plunged when we hit chaotic, nearly impenetrable wattle growth along the river

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which would be so beautiful – the wattle was so thick we couldn’t get much of a view of the river as it tumbled down cascades and riffles

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We finally emerged on a grassy hillside

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and entered and area of grazed veld grass and few invasivesP1220888

with a stunning indigenous forest on the hills beyond

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Our 14th fence crossing was unusual – a double fence

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and we finally left the river

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to head up to a delightful cottage on the farm of Mike and Charmaine Blythe which they have very generously offered to us.

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We are so grateful for this – thank you so much. Roll on that hot bath…..

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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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One Response to Day 4 – How Wet are our Wetlands?

  1. shew, sounding like a sad state of the river…

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