Monday, 9 July 2007

Day 21 - Trouthaven to Paarl

47km 12h15 1800m of climbing
Planned to get up at 2am (after only 2 hours of sleep) and get to the bottom of the portage for a 4am start. Woke at 2am to the sound of gentle rain - back to sleep. Finally got up at 3.30am and got going at 4.40. Was feeling a little nauseous when we left and it just got worse. Lost my breakfast half way to the start of the portage. Considered a retreat because of the demanding portage ahead and feeling fragile didn't help. Reasoned that I could get some more sleep and go up with the following group the next day. Bit the bullet and forged ahead. We got to the bottom of Stettynskloof at 6.00am. It was dark, drizzling slightly and there were plenty of clouds about. Adam led us through a rough track that had been cleared recently. The winding track crossed the river a few times. If your idea of fun is wading through rivers in the middle of a Cape winter in the dark with the thermometer in single digits then the Stettynskloof ramble has been designed specifically for you. If that is too tame for you then add a bike to your list of things to take with - along with your 10kg backpack. The first 6km went reasonably quickly, taking only 2h30. Then it got really interesting - the track ended! The next 6km took 5 hours! We followed the "Waddilove Line" for a short while - the odd bit a tape tied to a tree to show where the cut trail was supposed to go - apparently the work force gave up. At one stage it led us to a HUGE pile of rocks that looked like they had been quarried and then piled together. Rohan and Adam with bikes on shoulders just walked over them. I was not as brave and slowly hauled my way over. We went too far right and got stuck in the river growth. After about 20 minutes we had made about 20metres of headway only to discover that the Waddilove Line was on the other bank of the river. It took us nearly 30 minutes to cross back over. The density of the growth is staggering! You move forward inch by inch. At one stage we were over the river. We knew this because we could hear the water beneath us. As I stopped to contemplate how bizzare the situation was the "raft" beneath me gave way and I dropped into the river.

Eventually the Waddilove Line ended and we had to make our own route choices. At one stage my foot got stuck in the undergrowth and I fell head first into a ravine. Landed hard on a rock that has left a bruise and a few aching ribs over my heart. For the next few hours we plodded on eventually shouldering my bike for the last few km's and climbed out of the kloof. Adam, Rohan and I then sat down next to the track and brewed a celebratory cup of tea (always coffee for Adam) with my gas cooker. We wanted to celebrate our achievement, not only of the day but of the ride, without the intrusion of outsiders - we had done well. Getting back on our bikes we then spent the next 3 hours getting to the finish at Ashanti in Paarl. Our final time 20 Days, 9 hours and 50 minutes.

A short celebration and we were presented with our prize - a blanket.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Mike

May that blanket bring back fond memories ... often!