OORLOGSKLOOF (Day 3)


October 2021

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!

We have to get up the mountain on the right …
But, once again, we had to cross the Oorlogskloof River – using this bridge
We were hiking the trail during spring, which mean the river was now only a small stream

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 …

There is a path somewhere up there … we came down the middle of this photo towards the hut late yesterday afternoon

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!

First, you have to climb this ladder and then crawl sideways to climb over the bigger rock at the very top … seriously?!
We were now almost at the top of the cliffs … but first …
… we just needed to get OVER another big rock!

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!

The dreaded chimney

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!!

The view of THAT rock (doesn’t look like much now, hey?)

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!

Coffee time!

We were now on the plateau again and I was hoping for a smooth(er) walk …

On top of the plateau

From here the path winds through expressive stands of proteas and other typical fynbos plants … an actual PATH … what a relieve!

Our path was now a delight to follow
Enormous wagon trees (Protea nitida)

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.

There were many different rock formations on our path

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.

Getting water for our water bottles
Our water filter did the job and the water was now safe to drink
With enough drinking water, we continued on our pathway
It’s always a joy to see the protea (our country’s national flower) in nature

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.

Here we had to remove our backpacks in order to get through the narrow passage
Our path still continued on the edge of the plateau
We have now done 15km (no, actually 19km) 😉

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.

Our rock shelter – perfect spot for lunch
Lunch time! Tuna on provitas and a few cheese cubes
And time to rest those tired feet!

The trail now veered away from the cliffs and crossed the plateau with stands of proteas (Protea laurifolia) flanking the path.

More protea trees
Sometimes the sandy path gave way to solid rock
And we still found interesting rock formations

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.

The blue-headed lizard enjoying 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.

The bridge over the Oorlogskloof River
Another bridge over the river leads to our 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).

Our hut, Doltuin was a welcome sight

Once again, we found bunk beds and a table inside … but no shower and no water!

Our beds were made and backpacks emptied
Our food on the table (but we made sure to pack everything away before we went to bed … just in case of any annoying mice)

Bath time:

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)!

Dinner – it was always a treat on this trail

Once again, here are the maps of the day:

Day 3 – Route map
Day 2 – Elevation map

A final thought on Day 3:

On Day 3, you will find the first ‘escape route’ (should you not want to continue) …

Pramkoppie is the destination for tomorrow, Doltuin was our hut for tonight and ‘Noodroete’ (Escape route) is to end the hiking trail earlier

What do you think? Did I convinced Berto that we should take the ‘Escape Route’ tomorrow?

Categories: South African Break Aways

49 comments

  1. Oh you are brave! I’m not surprised you brought down and wept. Berto sounds like a very good support system! I think…you did not escape….

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, Corna jy was baie braaf om daardie deel te kon doen. Dankie tog Barto was daar om jou te help en te ondersteun. Sommer 3 hoede af vir die dag! Die omgewing is ongelooflik mooi en die proteas pragtig. Lekker om in die stroompie te kon bad. 🙃 ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like a tough long day. Good for you for overcoming it. It’s always good to have a great partner in hiking and in life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There’s no two ways about it – this was indeed a tough day … though the last couple of hours on this day was probably the most scenic of the hiking trail! Yes, it’s so true about a supportive hiking partner (and in life as well) … thank you for pointing that out to me!

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  4. Phew, what a trilogy of episodes this has been thus far. You had me on the edge of your seat. Huge congrats on pushing yourself to do it and for so bravely sharing everything in such an open, honest fashion. Berto sounds like he handled everything so well, but you still had to do it for yourself, so great teamwork.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah, thanks Leighton for those lovely comments! To be honest … I had myself on the edge of my chair while typing the story (and re-living day 3)! After 25 years of being married, Berto knows me very well (and how far he can push me). And to make any relationship work, you need to be team players – day 3 proved it once again!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You are so courageous Corna and obviously very strong to be brave enough to swing on that chain and negotiate the gap below. I would have been 100 times more terrified than you but with the calming influence of Berto by your side you made it, well done!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. After conquering the difficult trail so far, I’m sure you carried on the next day. This hike or trek is a true endurance test. Hopefully others will read your posts to get a true idea of what the trail is really like.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely John! We have read the brochure of this hike before we started and never thought it was this tough! But now I’m afraid if people read of our experience, they will probably not go 😉. I just think, if you’re mentally prepared for what truly is waiting for you, it should be easier …

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  7. WOW! What a day and what an achievement! It just shows your depths of resilience and courage! Go you!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Oh gosh, that chimney section sounds super sketchy!! Heck, even climbing up that mountain and some of those large rocks looks dodgy. As someone who is also afraid of heights, there’s no way I could have done something like that by myself either. Teamwork really does make the dream work. The wine was definitely well deserved!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re also afraid of heights … well, then I’m glad I found an ally on this trail! Thinking back now, this day was probably the most scenic (one just have to find your way around THAT chimney before you can actually enjoy the beauty of nature 😉). I like your quote about teamwork 👍🏻 … oh, and as for the wine … it was the best glass of wine I EVER had!!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, what a day! You definitely deserve a bravery medal – not just for making it up the chimney and across that horrid rock/gap combo, but also for sharing it so honestly with us. I felt I was there with you, also ready to sit down and weep by the path. I would have wept too, but before the leap, and then not made it 😦 Berto sounds like a rock too, how great to have his support on the trail 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Wow this is getting to be more and more of a challenge. Brilliant that you overcame your fears and managed to do that (real life) leap of faith. Despite the tears you must have felt very proud of yourself afterwards.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I like that “real life leap of faith” 😁! And you’re absolutely right, I did feel proud of myself (once again I need to add, if only I knew what was waiting for me, I would have stayed right here at home)! But now I’m glad I’ve done it … it was such a scenic (challenging) route!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow, this trail seems to have it all in terms of terrain. Sounds stressful and strenuous in places. I’m glad to hear there were some actual trails on this segment. I also enjoyed the pictures of the protea… what a neat flower!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Absolutely! I would say that about 10% of the trail is actual hiking (in a real path), while the other 90% was climbing rocks, ladders and of course hanging on some chains 😬. Oh, I’m glad you like the protea! It’s such a unique flower (I probably took a photo of this flower every day on our hike)!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow, I’m impressed! Berto is good to have around! My life partner would not have responded so patiently! 🥴 I have no doubt you will continue onward. You make me proud, my friend! 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your kind comments Lisa! Well, Berto had two options … help me patiently or leave me in the mountain! Which mean he actually only had one option – help me 😁. No, you’re right … it’s good to have him around (you won’t catch me hiking without him, that’s for sure)! Thanks for popping in, take care 🍂🍂.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow, you’re a brave girl!! I am also afraid of heights, so I totally understand you.. the secret is not to look back🙂
    I love the views from the top, and the exquisite flowers, especially the protea.
    Cheers, xx

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow! My heart was in my throat reading this story. You are lucky to have such a supportive husband! I would have also sat down and cried afterwards from shear shock. If it was me I would take the escape route 👍💛🙋‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that is exactly what it was … shear shock! And maybe the previous day’s 11.5 hours on the trail also contributed to the tears ☺️. I am indeed very thankful for Berto by my side on any hiking trail – I know he won’t leave me (that’s why I can afford to be a little bit stubborn 😉). If I had to choose whether to take the escape route that evening, I would probably have done so … but in the morning things always looks better!

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  15. I’m speechless, you two are my heroes!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I mean wow, you guys are just amazing. I’d have turned back at the first bridge let alone swinging from chains and leaping around – you’re incredible.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Bravo!!! 👏👏👏 sounds like a difficult day turned good.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Congrats for conquering the physical and mental challenge. I have broken down in similar circumstances. Just couldn’t hold it in. Absolutely love those fynbos flowers.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Wow🙀another fantastic hiking post! You are incredible and if I must ever take up hiking it will be because of you Corna. I love the beautiful images and write up, so cool (interesting socks) and really a lovely post, thank you 🌸💕Your husband Berto is so incredible 👏🏼👏🏼 especially for the amazing support he provides…and because of this I don’t think you convinced him to take the “escape route” I’ll read the next post now to see if I was right, i can’t wait… so excited 😆

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, thanks a million for your lovely comments Henrietta! Yes, those socks … I’ve got a few of them (and they work great with my bedrock sandals 😁). This was probably my toughest day ever on any hike (mentally) and I would never completed this without Berto’s encouragement … that’s why I always say that I will never go on a long hike without him 😉. And you were absolutely right about us not taking the escape route 👍🏻.

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