12km (7.4 miles)
- Estimated time to complete according to brochure: 6-8 hours
- Our time: 8.5 hours
When our alarm went off at 5:30 this morning, I wanted to get out of bed – really … but my body just refused! After yesterday’s grueling 11.5 hours on the trail, there was not a place on (or in) my body that was not aching!
I literally crawled out of bed and was moving like a (very slow) tortoise for the first half hour. Going to the outside loo (meaning I had to use the stairs), was a mission!
But by some miracle, after a cup of tea and a big bowl of oats, my body warms up and at around 7:15 we walked out of our hut … just to start climbing yet another mountain!
After crossing the bridge, we looked back towards our hut … and now we also had the opportunity to see once again where we came from late yesterday afternoon. Pretty amazing …
It took us more than an hour to walk/climb up this mountain. There were once again a few ladders to climb and some serious negotiation of moving over or around some of the bigger boulders!
My tipping point:
And then, as the brochure warned us, a chimney awaited us. In the brochure it says: “A chimney of a few meters has to be negotiated with the assistance of two ropes” … to start with, there were not two ropes, but only one chain …
I rolled my eyes and looked at Berto. He said: “Let’s rest for a moment here in the shade. Then I will go up and do some investigation” … hmm, I thought, let’s rest … FOR EVER!
Berto came back and said: “It looks more difficult than what it really is. You will be able to do this”. So, I took off my backpack, grab the chain and pulled myself up and up and up towards the top of the chimney. I was so happy and could not believe that it was indeed quite manageable … that was until I looked further up …
It was FAR from over …
We were not at the top yet … yes, we were through the chimney, but there was another chain that had to help us getting on top of the plateau. This time, I had to hang on to the chain and almost swing/jump around a big rock and then over a huge gap in the rocks to get to the safety of the other side. So, what did I do …
I freezed and said to Berto: “There is no way that I will be able to do this – NO WAY!”.
Berto held me and said: “We can wait until you’re ready. I’ve got you and will push from behind so you can have more momentum to get to the other side”.
But I was like a stubborn donkey … going nowhere soon! I took the chain in both hands, but started to shiver (remember my fear of heights?) and just said: “I can’t do it, I can’t do it” … over and over!
Berto just calmly hold on to me and reassured me it’s possible and that we can wait until I have the confidence to try.
And then … I can’t exactly explain how … but I just looked towards the other side and probably also up to the heaven (ignoring the big gap in front of me) and said: “I MUST do this!” and leaped forward … with the assistance of Berto pushing me from behind, I swung over the gap and landed safely on the other side!
Then the flood gates open!
When I looked back and realised what I just did, I slowly sat down and started to cry!
Berto then swung himself over (he actually did it twice to bring both our backpacks) and came and sat next to me. He just put his arms around me and I sobbed for almost five minutes on his lap!!
After this ordeal, it was definitely time for coffee. I laid on my back and closed my eyes … I’ve just conquered something that I thought was never possible!
We were now on the plateau again and I was hoping for a smooth(er) walk …
From here the path winds through expressive stands of proteas and other typical fynbos plants … an actual PATH … what a relieve!
For the next few kilometers the trail skirts the broken edge of the plateau. The geological history can clearly be seen in the formations of the rocks.
It was now becoming quite hot and there was not much shade on our path. We were just getting a little bit worried about our water, when we got to a rocky section with some water puddles. Normally we won’t drink still standing water, but Berto had our water filter with him and we filled our bottles with the cool filtered water.
Although the path was much smoother than what we experienced the past two days, we still found a few ladders and rocks to climb on our way. We were now also looking for a bit of shade from an overhanging rock where we could enjoy our lunch.
Shortly after the 15km marker we found a cool rock shelter that was ideal to rest for half an hour and to have something to eat.
The trail now veered away from the cliffs and crossed the plateau with stands of proteas (Protea laurifolia) flanking the path.
We have not seen many animals on the trail thus far … except for the small snake on day 1 and many baboons. But the other animals we saw quite often was lizards and geckos. They are always so fast moving and we struggle to get a decent photo, but today we saw a blue-headed lizard (otherwise known as the Southern Tree Agamas) that was baking in the sun on a rock.
At the 18km marker, the route descended gently (don’t you just love the word ‘gently’) 😁! We passed a few wild olive trees and then crossed a bridge over the Oorlogskloof River. From there it was about 45 minutes of easy walking along the river to our overnight hut.
Our hut for the night is called Doltuin Camp. The word ‘Dol’ comes from the Afrikaans for ‘digging up’, a reference to the small patches of cultivated fields where the early farmers established small-scale farms. Today, the areas are extensively invaded by ‘renosterbos’ (Elyptropappus rhinocerotus).
Once again, we found bunk beds and a table inside … but no shower and no water!
With no water available, but an intense desire to wash our bodies, we took the little pathway back to river. After removing all of our clothes, we walked into the shallow side of the river and washed ourselves in the cold river water (as well as some of our clothes) … good thing we’re alone!
Reflection on Day 3:
What a day! After my breakdown at the chimney earlier this morning, I did not foresee reaching our hut in one piece (or actually not at all)! I think I probably would have still been there if it had not been for Berto who guided and comforted me through that difficult part of the route. It was for sure my hardest day since I started hiking years ago!
But yet, here I was and we were sitting outside our hut admiring the most beautiful sunset!
Tonight, on the menu was Tuscan Chicken and Smash … and a few glasses of red wine (yes, we still had wine and according to Berto, well-deserved after a tough day)!
Once again, here are the maps of the day:
A final thought on Day 3:
On Day 3, you will find the first ‘escape route’ (should you not want to continue) …
What do you think? Did I convinced Berto that we should take the ‘Escape Route’ tomorrow?