Day 7 – The Bramble and The Peach Blossom

Preven writes: It is a beautiful cool morning with light drops of rain this Saturday. We started walking at 06h30 hours and in this cool weather and refreshing rainP1230692

it seems that we could walk for days (well we have been walking for days, but you know what I mean). We hit bramble as soon as we leave the bridge where our steadfast support crew dropped us this morning.

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By the river’s edge we approach two ominous signs, a dead skinned reedbuck and a goat with its throat slit. The blood stains the land and the river runs brown. The water has risen since yesterday, the water from Mearns weir on the Mooi is being pumped into the Lions. The river flows fast and deep, too fast for us to conduct a river health test and too deep too cross the banks at will. So we keep to the right bank this morning, trying to bypass the thick bramble that smothers the flood plain and the river bank.

No such luck – we soon hit impenetrable bramble. This is the thickest we have seen the bramble since the walk began. Firebreaks have burnt some of the bramble

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but it still everywhere and this is the first day when I have forgotten my slasher. So with a dugu in my hand I proceed to hack a path through for us.  Wow, I have never had so much fun and its better than any computer game I have ever played, although soon I’m hungry (it’s only been an hour since I ate) and after 10 minutes I’m still not even half way through. A peach tree in bloom stands alone in the middle of this.

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Penny says that she will never look at peach tree again without thinking of this bramble thicket. I say that the prettiest things are normally covered in thorns and they will hurt you if you get too close.P1230753

We follow the contour line and are finally free of the bramble as the Lions meanders down through the plantation lines.P1230768

The plantations normally keep clear of the buffer zones of the river for which we are grateful. We follow the rivers course from high up keeping her in our sight. We stop for a short break just as we see the N3 highway and we take a few minutes to take in these beautiful surroundings before we hit the unreal world of cars, trucks and tar roads

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Most of the causeways have been flooded so we cannot even get to the other side.

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The banks get steeper as we head higher and we follow a cattle path along the edge.P1230845

In this cool weather we cover a lot of ground. Usually we will be sweating and drinking all our water too soon, but we are already more than halfway along our route for today. So we take a break against the river edge,P1230868

eating our lunch (which has been the same everyday for the last seven days, not sure if I can eat another peanut butter sandwich).

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We cross fence number 11 which involves swinging over the bridgeP1230872

and we stay on the left hand side which quickly becomes infested with bramble, and here even bugweed has come to join the alien invaders party. We keep higher trying to evade them and soon we are at The Lions River Trading Post. It is now nearly 1pm and John and Brendan have met us on the road to give us a hearty cup of soup. Now this is the life.

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Since its early afternoon and we have already bypassed our stopping point for today we decide to push ahead. Our support crew checks the maps to see if we can be extracted if we continue our journey to the confluence with the uMngeni.

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We head onwards hoping to cover more ground. We pass the picturesque Lions River Country Cottages and other households along the Lions and skirt around the plantations. We also encounter Umgeni Water’s gauging wier. But sooner than you can say Long John Silver or Brambelina we are faced with more brambles that smother everything everywhere. This is why it is a problem plant and an invasive; it deters many creatures (not only us) from accessing the river or the ground.P1230961

With the rain coming down hard and faced with more hacking and tramping through brambles we decide to call it a day and phone through to John and B to pick us up. This is only so that we can have an early start tomorrow morning facing the brambles, hopefully with some hot breakfast to help us battle through. So this is the end of Day 7 one more day to go and we are done walking the Lions. Its been a long week but time does fly when you hacking and data collecting and having fun.

Fence count: 13. Kilometres: 15. Two happy river walkers: check

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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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