The last three days have passed in a flash and a blur – I’m (Penny Rees) already going through withdrawal symptoms: even with the constant noise of the N3 highway, after spending three days doing little actual walking, a lot of climbing up hills, and mainly hacking through very thick undergrowth, brambles and bracken, and wading down the Indezi, it is a jolt to return to the unreal world.
My walking team have all headed home, and after some leftovers for dinner I begin to relax, and start ticking over the walk. It’s definitely been the most physically hard and challenging walk we have done, and I’m saddened that each river we walk seems at times to be worse than the previous ones.
I guess it’s that rivers are like people in a way – they all have their own problems, and whilst we’ve seen the Lions River with problems related predominantly to effluent issues; and the Mpofana with problems related to the inter basin transfer from the Mooi River, the Indezis main problem seems to be that of invasive plants – the cause of our slow progress along the river the majority of its length.
What makes it particularly sad is that we discovered, hidden under the likes of bramble and wattle, some stunning cascades and rapids, and the cherry on the cake today was the Indezi Falls. I’ve seen those falls umpteen times from the N3, and always thought I’d love to see them close up – and now I have. And it was worth every hellish slogging step to see them.
Back in 2012, before walking the uMngeni River, our team visited the man I fondly think of as Old Man River – Dr Ian Player. As this is the first river walk we have undertaken since he passed away late last year, we have dedicated this walk to him.
Over the last three days my thoughts constantly returned to Hlonipha – Respect: the respect that Dr Player felt we have lost – respect for Ourselves, Others and Mother Earth. He felt that the loss of this respect is the root of our problems, and I hope that our walks, by exposing the plight of our rivers, will help people to regain some of the respect we have lost for these precious, beautiful places.
In a couple of days, after perusing our records and photos I’ll be posting some information on the findings of the Indezi Walk.
I would like to thank everyone that assisted the DUCT river walkers down the Indezi. Sarah Allen, chairperson of Curry’s Post Conservancy for all your hard work arranging permission, assisting with the route and returning us to our vehicle in the afternoons, plus so much more! Rona van Niekerk and her committee of the Midlands Conservancies Forum for their support and for facilitating this walk through the generous funding of N3TC. Thank you to The Windmills for the super accommodation on the first night, to our DUCT General Manager, Doug Burden and colleagues for their support.
What a wonderful feeling to reach the confluence with the Lions River and to realise that after starting with the uMngeni River in 2012 we have walked five rivers, all needing healing in some way and we have met so many people who are working hard to help bring this about. You are doing a superb job, keep going, no matter how ever daunting the task may seem!
So this is the ‘Mayday for Rivers’ Team signing off till we blog again, Penny Rees, Preven Chetty, Pandora Long and our cameraman Sphiwe Mazibuka of Duzi Productions. Hlonipa! Hlonipa! Hlonipa!