Day 7 - Crazy chains and severe water restrictions
Trip Start Dec 10, 2008
33Trip End Ongoing
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At the start of the hike we were informed that there would be no water at Day 7's shelter and were given the option of being picked up by the park officials on Day 7, or to continue on to Kapokvlakte shelter, but to carry enough water for the next day as well. The decision was made to carry extra water, and hike the full eight days. Thankfully wee didn't start off carrying all the water needed from the beginning of the day, as we knew we'd find some water further up in the kloof.
About 400m into the hike we had already lost the little white footprints, but at least we knew which direction we were headed. Unlike Day 5, it didn't take too long until we stumbled upon them again.
We gradually made our way up kloof climbing from boulder to boulder at a very steady but slow pace, until we came across the only chain in the kloof. But this was the most dangerous chain climb we'd come across. History tells us that we cannot trust that the chains are safe so the first person to climb, Peter climbed the rock face without relying on the chain, checking every link to ensure it was secure. This was no easy feat as moss was growing everywhere there was running water making the rocks extremely slimy and slippery. Watching Peter and Terrence slowly make their way up didn't put too much faith in ourselves as these were usually the guys that did it in no time and without any difficulty.
So slowly, one by one we took turns to climb up, one slippery step at a time. The really scary thing about these chains were that you really had to rely on them, and should you slip, you had to ensure you had a good grip on them as one mistake could result in a terrible injury or something even more tragic. I do think that every person climbing up had their fair share of adrenaline running through their system keeping them focused. Thankfully we all made it up without and serious incidents. I think everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief when the last person came over the edge.
From here on we considered every seen stream of running water to check whether it would be the last one and whether we needed to stock up for the next two days
At what we thought would be the last flowing water, we filled up all the water bottles available to us. Uncle Bernard had a 10 litre bottle and a pair of 2 litre bottles which he filled up and added to his pack. Everyone offered to carry some of his belongings but he turned down their offers. I think all How boys have a very stubborn streak. Needless to say, our hiking speed slowed down a fair bit as everyone was now fully loaded.
It didn't take too much time to get out of the gorge, though it felt a fair while longer. Here we were greeted by a large troop of barking baboons, and a few stray zebra's. The walk onwards was to be very flat. There was no more climbing or descending lined up for us. All we had to do to get to the next shelter was cover some distance.
8km into the day we reached a point aptly called World's View
We stopped off to take a few photos, before continuing our unending quest. My feet were killing me. Uncle Bernards were in just as much agony if not more. But walk we had to and walk we did. I think we may have taken a few more breaks should some shade have presented itself to us, but unfortunately the top of the mountain was more grassy and bushy with trees sparsely spread out. This still didn't stop us from occasionally taking a rest. Not sure we'd have finished the walk if we didn't take some pressure off our feet just before they caved in.
In the distance we could see the shelter, but even so looking at it didn't bring it any nearer, and so we trudged along. Hundreds of springbuck pranced past us as we walked. When you're doing something that doesn't require much thought or concentration you have so much time to ponder life. The one thing I did realise and think about was that doing something like this, giving up your luxuries and pushing yourself beyond your normal ability for eight solid days really does make you appreciate everything you've got
Before long, I realised I was at the Kapokvlakte Shelter. Terrence had already gone into the shelter to scout out for wasps. There were a fair number of nests around, but fortunately nothing like at Ubusis shelter. Firstly his plan was to use a long pipe to hit the wasps and nests off the roof, but I wasn't so sure on this plan as I could see some of them escaping the onslaught and getting the better of him. Regardless, we all took a back row seat to distance ourselves from the danger, and to see how the story played out
The maths was done and we were all rationed out our water. Everyone got a litre from the 10liter can, and obviously whatever else they had managed to carry on the course. Peter, Uncle Bernard and I had eaten our dinner supplies at lunch time while we had water handy so that we could cook without the need to limit ourselves. Thus our dinner comprised our little Melrose cheeses and biscuits instead.
Everyone enjoyed the setup of the Kapokvlakte shelter. There was so much space and freedom to walk and move around. There weren't any aggressive grasses that were to get the better of us. Also, our location gave us a great bird's eye view of the plains and animals around. At sunset (a very beautiful sunset too) we could just see the silhouettes of some springbuck and some black backed jackal. We could clearly hear the jackal calling out to one another. And if you waited and were quiet for long enough you could also hear hyenas calling in the distance.
Everyone took a moment to walk around and listen to the night. It was significantly colder up here than it had been at any of the other shelters we'd slept in. I wore as many of my clothes as I could before climbing into both my sleeping bag and sleeping bag inner.