8.5km (5.2 miles)
- Estimated time to complete according to brochure: 6-7 hours
- Our time: 11.5 hours 😳
By just looking at our time spent on the trail today, you can imagine how this day turned out …
After our “night out of hell” (you can read about it here), we were not in the happiest mood to start walking … those damn mouse (or mice)! But we would get nowhere if we were not hitting the road soon and strapped our backpacks on after enjoying a big bowl of oats and two cups of strong coffee!
We left our hut at around 7:30 and followed the double-track towards the river. Here, the water was overflowing the road and we had to make a choice of how to cross this. There were two poles next to the road (that serves as a bridge) and Berto took that way. I thought I will not be able to balance myself and my heavy backpack on those poles and just walked (in my Bedrock sandals) through the water – how easy was that!
Almost immediately after crossing the river, we got to an uphill which continued for about 15 minutes … I was silently wondering whether this is how our day will turn out.
Halfway up the hill, we found a sign reading ‘Brandewynvoetpad’ (loosely translated, it would mean Brandy footpath) where we had to turn right.
Although it was another uphill, the path ascends steadily to the base of the cliffs and it was not that difficult to walk … perhaps also because it was still early in the morning 😉.
We also had some pretty flowers and plants close to our footpath – unfortunately, we don’t have the names of these … but can show you some pictures.
It was also on this path that we saw our first kilometer marker. Remember that I told you (for some unknown reason), the first 4km are not count as part of the trail? Well, I will have to let them know that it CERTAINLY is part of the trail!! We would see the kilometers ticking off for the next 4 days … sometimes it would took hours from one kilometer marker to the next 😳.
According to our map, we were on our way to the river … however, we first had to walk all the way to the plateau before descending down to the river.
Close to the plateau, we had to find our way through low lying tree trunks and (of course) over a few more rocks!
Shortly after the 2km mark, we found a seep in the rocks where we could taste the cold mountain water … and it was really refreshing!
We then had to choose our steps carefully as we walked on a very narrow path close to the rocks to get to the plateau.
Then our first ladder, rope and chain awaited us! We had to use these to get on top of the plateau. I can’t remember … did I tell you about my fear of heights …
Anyway, after taking off my backpack (Berto climbed up first and used a rope to get my backpack on top) … I took a deep breath and grabbed the ladder, rope and chain to get myself to the top of the plateau.
Now it was time to get down to the river, which included a 3-minute detour scramble down to below the cliffs again and then a steep descent to the river (we had to negotiate a section with quite loose shale here).
When we reached the river, it was time for a well-deserved coffee break! There were some lovely pools and we were looking forward walking along the river … if we only knew – this is not the river path as we know it!
Once we packed up and got back on the road, we soon realised we will not enjoy a stroll on a well-laid out pathway … no, it was steep up hills, a scramble over rocks (again and again) and narrow spaces … did I mention up hills?
After walking for almost 5km close to the river, we emerged from the riverine bush and were now ascending a VERY steep uphill towards the cliff base … this continue for 1km (doesn’t sound like much, but it was probably the longest 1km of my life)!
It took us more than an hour to complete this 1km uphill pathway to the top!
At the 8km mark, we reached the cliff base – finally! After walking in the sun for more than an hour, I was just so glad to sit down in the shade of the cliffs and trees!
We have now reached the Driefontein Waterfall, but since we’re already in spring, there is just a small stream of water flowing down the rocks.
With the sun now starting to set, it was quite concerning to see that the path leading down to our hut, is not really a path!
The route now descends steeply to the Oorlogskloof River, where we will find our hut. At times we had to literally went down on our bums to get down some of the big boulders. The sun has now set and it was getting dangerous to walk on these big rocks … that’s when I decided the best way of getting (safely) down to the hut, was to stay on my bum and use my hands, arms and feet to negotiate my way down! Not surprisingly, we have no pictures of getting down … no free hands!
It took us again more than an hour to walk (or crawl in my case) down to get to our hut!
After more than 11 hours since we started earlier this morning, we fell into the hut … tired and exhausted!
Only to realise there was no water in the hut! We saw a sign close to the hut that indicated we could find some water in a small stream and we walked down to fill a bucket. (Each hut has one bucket – presumably to collet water).
We barely had energy for anything else! Berto prepared our dinner, while I wobbled around in the hut to make our beds.
Berto mentioned that the only way we will feel better, is if we wash the dirt of the day off our bodies … but how?
I can tell you this … we realised during this hike that you can get clean with just a little bit of water! We each used one cup of lukewarm water to wash our hair (of course outside on the hut’s balcony). Berto then boiled water in our little pot. We applied some of the eco-friendly soap on our bodies and using our washcloths to rub it in. Then we soaked the cloths in the pot of water to wipe ourselves off! How does that sound for a bath?
Oh, and there is one more picture I would like to share with you … the evidence of a difficult descend down the mountain!
And once again, here are the maps of the day:
After barely sleeping 3 hours the previous night and more than 11 hours on today’s trail, we were totally and utterly drained and hoping for a good night’s sleep.
Tomorrow … tomorrow is the tipping point for me on this trail! We will tell you all about this in the next post!