No Stroll in the Park

Preven and Penny cooked dinner. Spaghetti ‘Curry’ Bollanaise and green salad. Out the corner of my eye I notice Prev consume copious quantities in a fairly ravenous manner. (I’m trying to be polite here ūüôā )

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It’s been a long tiring day, and that’s an understatement. ¬†My movements are like one of those Duracell bunnies. ¬†You know the one’s that shift their weight awkwardly right, left, right, left, and with nothing actually bending somehow shuffle forward? ¬†But their faces have this bright bubble look that becomes a little incongruent as the key winds down.

We are talking animatedly around the supper table in Penny’s kitchen. ¬†Somehow I get the idea that, apart from the river conversation and regular swing of the arm needed to feed a hungry tummy, pretty much everything else is in some stage of rigor rivertitis. ¬†Poor Sphiwe looks rather forlorn and mutters something about a sore back. ¬†In terms of hard going, the Indezi day two has been no stroll in the Park!

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Through, under, over, leg swing, tree hop fence crossings are only part of the story…I think is is time we revealed what river walking really entails.

So we were up at five, gear checked, packed and ready to walk from where we left off at the entrance to Boschhoek by 6.45am. ¬†We were really pleased to bump into Jerry who jokingly said that after receiving the blog at some unearthly hour, he thought we’d made an ultra early start!

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Now jokes aside, this little valley of the Indezi has some really special secrets that it shared with us as the day unfolded.  Right at the start we should have listened to Sphiwe, who pointed out a little magic mushroom, but we declined, thinking that although he mentioned going on a mushroom identification course, we were the wiser.  How wrong we were!

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The second secret presented itself to us very unceremoniously. ¬†Otter scat! ¬†It was only much later that we realised that the best way to get down much of the Indezi was pretty much to keep one’s body as low to the ground as possible, when that failed, to head for the water and when that failed to hope like hell that your skin was thick enough to withstand¬†the bramblethorn back up on the bank!

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Now just to fill you in, there is quite some extensive preparation that goes into these walks. ¬†Google maps, interviews with landowners, a local area fundi to assist…these tasks were very ably carried out by Sarah Allen, Chairperson of the Curry’s Post Conservancy. ¬†So we had spreadsheets of river right, river left, instructions left, instructions right like stay between the biocontrol fence and the river, mind the Anetolian sheep dog (just joking we made that up to tease Penny, apparently he is really friendly)… ¬†But rivers have a language of their own. ¬†Add a couple (x 10) exotic invasive ones and you have a cacophony of tangled vegetation that is able to throw the most well laid out plans!

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And so it was that one hour later, around 7.45am to be precise, the riverwalk team managed to negotiate around a 100 meter stretch that took us under the N3 and into Alien Paradise (or Indigenous Hell)

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Now there’s one thing you just have to know about these exotic invasives…firstly you have to know the language they speak… then you have to develop a really good plan…you need a general who is also the best field marshall you can find, and he needs to let the troops in on a plan of slow, systematic and seasonal eradication. ¬†You cannot hit and run! ¬†Or heaven forbid, hit and miss! ¬†Did you read that book ‘The March of the Triffids?’ ¬†Well you’ve got the picture?

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By 10 (ten) o’clock we had covered a whole 800m from the start of our day (plus reverse gear a good few hundred meters or more; out of bramble, bracken, no-go pools, log jams, river rights and river lefts) ¬†Aside from heavy siltation we reached a reasonably intact riparian zone and stopped to do a MiniSASS, an activity that we repeat at intervals two, three, sometimes four times in a walking day. It is also, as you will note from the pictures, a leading cause of rigor riveritis!

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And so after an hour of more of a muchness -negotiating our way from bank to bank, pool to pool to avoid hit and run wattles, brambles and bracken, we emerged through the N3 culvert to join a Willie Wagtail for a welcome elevenses!

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Downstream the Alien orchestra had discovered jazz! ¬†Only the most practiced eye could pick out those parts which made up an indigenous scale and those that made up a discordant alien invasive scale. And the motif that tied it all together was a dense green groundcover that wandered for hundreds of meters from in the stream right up the steepest hill on the Indezi! (I’m getting to that part)

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Just around the corner from the Bio-control fence we stopped for a 2 o’clock MiniSASS and a peanut butter sarmie or two. Then we made much better progress through lush pastures (a secondary cause of rigor riveritis), a fair sprinkling of bugweed, bitter apple and past beautiful bovines!

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It was about here that we all underwent a steep learning curve. ¬†Stay with the plan, keep together… these are Penny’s cardinal rules. ¬†Of course none of us being in the least bureaucratic (or autocratic… democratic or any other kind or cratic) we tend to bend these ideals into pretty much any form or shape, much like the curving branches of the huge old (alive) basket willows now lining the Indezi banks. ¬†So we went river left (instead of river right) and having no boats to cross the dam…well to cut a long climb short, we followed the high road to arrive eventually, exhausted back down below the dam wall!

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After short trip in the back of Sarah’s bakkie to Penny’s vehicle at Boschoek Estate, I for one was pretty much ‘done in’ by the Indezi… but tomorrow’s another day – these legs were made for walking, and that’s what we’re gonna do… ¬†and if you are wondering about the secret of the magic mushroom, that we so foolishly declined…well true to stories of Alice and rabbit holes, a little nibble on one side and we could have made ourselves REALLY small (nifty when it comes to fallen trees, logjams and dense stands of liquid amber, bugweed etc) …and a teensy weensy little nibble from the other side and we could have made our selves really TALL (good for large dense stands of bramble and just stepping right across rivers without having to get the feet wet at all!)

A huge thank you to everyone that has helped make this Indezi walk possible! Look out for us on day three!

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One Response to No Stroll in the Park

  1. Thanks Team! The Indezi is arguably the most publicly visible river along its entire length thanks to the N3…. we need to work at getting the silent landowner, SANRAL, more involved in its recovery

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