Day 4 - Half way and getting easier!
Trip Start Dec 10, 2008
33Trip End Ongoing
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I woke up to another puffy eye. This time the other eye!!! But this time I'm not alone. Uncle Bernard has the same problem. We have coined the term 'buff eye' as he also slept with a buff covering his face. This is not good. Again Peter's medical kit came out to come to my aid.
The first part of the walk was really nice. Although it was a flat section the air was still cool. The grass we walked through had a silver shine to it in the sunlight and it was high enough for you to run your hands through while walking. This is what I imagine it would have been like for Russel Crowe when he acted in the movie Gladiator.
It's somewhere at this point that the 4-day and 8-day hikes split up
We did a fair bit of flat walking before finding ourselves in the Zebra Kloof where we stumbled upon an immature Black Eagle kill, a dassie. When he saw us he took flight leaving the dassie behind. A couple of steps further we stopped in the shade of the kloof for our tea break. A pair of adult Black Eagles frequently flew above us, and at one stage put on an acrobatic show of semi loop-the-loops. I'd never seen eagles, or any birds for that matter, do anything of the sort. It really was something incredible to see.
Wynand led the way further down the kloof with Van Heerden following shortly behind him. At one point, as they walked underneath a tree, Van Heerden in his calmest voice, instructed Wynand to walk on as there was a black mamba hanging over his head. As I looked up to see the snake, it slithered up into the tree to escape us, and then hid itself from view in a clump of dead branches and leaves. There were in fact two of them. Had it been my mother, she would've been hysterical. But instead everyone steps closer to get a better view and see where they're headed
As we proceeded down the kloof we came across another obstacle, this time water. There was a chain to let us down, but due to the rains, the landing zone was under water. And there was no other way around or down. So the plan evolved. Peter and Van Heerden jumped without their packs, only just landing on the other side of the water. Oom Bertie then chucked their packs across. Uncle Bernard took his socks and shoes off and jumped into the water to help carry us girls across. I'm pretty certain we wouldn't have cleared the water not matter how hard we tried. So one by one we descended down onto his shoulders, he carried us across and then dropped us off the other side. When throwing his shoes and socks across, one of the socks rolled down the stone into the water. Not something I'd been keen on hiking with...
We slowly continued with our descent until we reached a point where the route directed us up the mountain. Here we dropped off our packs and walked down to the waterfall 300m further on.
It's incredible really when you realise how easy it is to walk without any weight to carry
The waterfall was incredible, but I prefer viewing them from below. Not only because I don't particularly standing on the edge of a cliff, but also because the view is so much better. You actually see what you're looking at opposed to just judging the height and looking straight down. I was told and shown where we would descend into the valley below. It looked like a very rocky road. Regardless, I didn't complain. I genuinely prefer up and down hills to flats. Ups more than downs too, as my knees tend to struggle a bit on the downs.
Before starting on the climb to get up and around, Peter helped me strap my heals again (they only seem to wear on the up and down hills - there's no winning really). The ascent was a steep ascent requiring you to stop quite often to catch your breath. From the highest point I could see the Namib desert in the distance. That was quite a surreal feeling for me. Here we are high up in the mountains (which I guess are also considered to be part of the desert) where water is flowing from fountains, and a few kilometres in the distance is a huge sand desert where there is absolutely nothing!!
At the bottom, we dropped off our packs and took our lunch to the foot of the waterfall. It's like a little world on it's own. Limestone covers the cliffs all the way down. Little crevices in the limestone provided hideouts and nesting sights for hundreds of little rosy-cheeked lovebirds. They're such noisy but cute birds. Tiny little wings...
Van Heerden took this opportunity to whip out another beer and celebrate this milestone in style. He always looks so happy when he's got a Tafel Lager in his hand. Though we could've we didn't swim at this spot because the water wasn't running, and with all the lovebird droppings made the water quite foul and rank. It wasn't until we reached the bottom of the Zebra Kloof that we found some more running water and the boys again took the opportunity to 'bathe'. The water was cold, and I didn't want to swim and have to bandage up my heal yet again.
At the bottom of the kloof we weaved in and out of the river, through some more klitsgras. This stuff is everywhere, and despite my ever so delicate treading, I still managed to accumulate mound fulls on my boots. Van Heerden, despite having gators, carefully followed me, as his gators weren't proving to be too proficient and resistent to all the grass seeds
We finally left the river bed and started walking on a 4x4 track. This was easy walking but not to my liking very flat. For some reason my feet weren't in as much pain as they've been on the previous days. We found a huge scorpion crossing the track. Rule of thumb says, big pinchers and a small tail isn't too much to worry about, but small pinchers with a big tail means you've got to be a bit more wary. This one fell into the second category. While everyone tried to get a picture of it, we kept trying to divert it back into the road and out of the veldt. Scarily, you could hear it screetching when you did so. Uncle Bernard scared the living daylights out of me while I was up close to the thing. Nothing like that to get the heart really going.
Further along the road less travelled we could hear a stampeded coming up from behind. When looking back we saw a large herd of Blue Wildebeest running past us. It was a bit strange because we couldn't figure out where they'd come from. We'd just come down the kloof and there were no wildebeest there. Unless they'd stationed themselves at the bottom but just a little higher up against the river walls.
First, Terrence flew past us at cheetah speed
No time was wasted in pulled the bakkie out from under the trees and nearer to the shelter. Then the cooler box was brought out. And out of that came... ice... cold... beers!!! Whoo hoo!!! It was like stumbling upon a gold mine, but I guarantee that no one would've swopped a beer for a gold nugget at that stage. Except Terrence maybe. He would've happily added a gold bar's weight to his pack. He was already carrying a huge rock for most of the day. Though I'm not sure the gold bar would've come at the cost of a beer. He'd have sold one of his friends for it instead.
Tsams Ost shelter, again the same setup. This time however, there were two really nice stone tables outside, albeit overgrown with klitsgras (not something we couldn't sort out). And, Tsams Ost also had the best loo of the hike. A long drop with a view. There were no walls around the loo. It was stationed behind a huge bush. So you had a full 360 view of what was around you.
The one thing I did think when I went to the loo later in the night was that you're pretty much sitting prey for a leopard if it chose you
Us ladies again got together to head down for a shower. Here we had a huge tank full of water. The tap from the tank was quite high up, so we could just step under it and take a shower. I thought this water would be cold, but it was great. Very refreshing but warm enough that you would happily stand under it for the rest of the evening. Stupidly though I threw my towel and a few other clothes on the ground while waiting my turn and found that the klitsgras was sneakily waiting for me there too. I really do hate the stuff. Once it takes hold of your clothes it just doesn't let go. Such a mission to remove it. Uncle Bernard did show me a quick effective way of removing it by pulling it back on itself but the problem is that it only works if the stem is also attached to the clothes. Else it's just a painful process of pulling the gras out one small hook at a time.
Feeling a little tipsy, and very refreshed we head on back to the camp. Everyone was on their second or third or... who knows which round of beer. Regardless, everyone was on a high. It was just great!!
I was quite delighted to discover that just the tables was a smallish social weaver nest. Loved listening to them chatting as they came and went. During the night they quietened down, and would hear a chirp come from them every now and then only. Probably as one of them bumped the other while they were sleeping or something.
Although noodles were still on the menu, the tuna was substitued for beans and viennas. Only problem was that we managed to burn this somewhat... so not such a great alternative after all. All the puddings came out later though. Uncle Bernard hauled out a bottle of Muscadel (sweet wine), and although I didn't think I'd like it, us girls managed to get quite stuck into the bottle. Canned fruit salad was brought out. Ultramel custard. Condensed Milk. Caramel. We were in a happy place, a very happy one.
I wasn't going to risk buff eye this night and decided to swop my buff for Peter's instead. I still needed something to keep me sleeping. However, I woke up sometime during the night to find my right foot itching. The Elastoplast plaster was coming back to haunt me. My foot wasn't just itching, it was the itching of the kind that had the ability to drive you mental
When I realised that that technique wasn't working, I decided to scratch with all my might. I scratched and scratched, but the itching still didn't abate. I then decided I would scratch my heals open. Pain would be more pleasant than the experience I was going through. But despite the fact that I managed to remove a fair bit of skin, the itching didn't cease. For a moment I even contemplated gnawing off my foot just to make it stop. The only thing I could imagine doing to help out was to put my foot in the ice cold water in the cooler box. Eventually I woke Peter up and requested him to find some magic potion from his medical aid box. An anti-histamine and some cream later, I finally started regaining my sanity, and fell asleep.