Saturday, 4 April 2015

A long uncomfortable night

Although layered up with both a wind shell and raincoat on top of my cycling jersey I was sopping wet. I had leg warmers in my back pack but decided the pouring rain coupled with the cramped space under the bush, which we named Doringbos Lodge, made it too tedious a job to put them on. It took us about 10 minutes to fold ourselves into the smallest possible mass and tuck the space blanket around us to exclude as much rain as possible and trap as much body heat as we could. If I so much as moved an arm it would cause the space blanket to open somewhere and we would spend a few minutes getting it secured again.
I kept my helmet on as I didn't fancy the prospect of pressing my face into the wet soil. As I lay there I had one ear to the ground and the other pointing skyward. The rain hammered against the space blanket and I was glad to have at least something between me and the storm even if it was a thin foil cover. I looked at my watch - 01:32 - it was going to be a long night. Within minutes I could hear Casper snoring gently. That chap could sleep anywhere. I wasn't so lucky. I moved a foot and immediately felt the cold night air invade our cocoon. I slowly reached down to see if I could tuck the space blanket back under my foot. At the same time I noticed a light. For a second I thought Tim had caught up and was standing there looking at these two tjops wrapped up in a foil blanket. My movement woke Casper. "My flippin' headlamp won't turn off," he said. He gave it a slap and it started cycling its way through its lighting programme from white to red and then a red strobe. He gave up placing it on the ground above his head. The rain it seems had invaded its gizzards and it wasn't going to turn off. We spent a few minutes adjusting our foil cocoon and soon Casper was asleep again. I looked at my watch  - 1:36. I adjusted my head to rest on my backpack and had the Christmas light display of Casper's headland right in my face. Not wishing to wake him again I placed my still gloved and wet hand over my face. A reasonable level of comfort slowly waned giving way to aching muscles begging to be moved. Eventually I surrendered to their plea and gave them a good stretch. Freezing air filled our space. Casper woke and announced "All turn over!"  We flipped over onto our other side, tucked the cover in and started shivering. Intense shivering that makes your muscles ache. We snuggled up closer desperate for warmth and pulled the space blanket down to minimise the airspace. I tucked my head into my raincoat to preserve the heat of my breath and try make it count for something. It was 01:45
That was the pattern throughout the night - cramps followed by shivers followed by cramps. At some point the rain stopped and was replace by a chilling wind. 
It seemed a week had passed before the darkness of the eastern sky gave way to the first light of dawn. I unfolded myself and dragged my aching body from beneath the bush. It took me a while to straighten out. The words of the poem "There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile...." played through my mind. I could hear Casper chuckling at me.
I looked up and one kilometre over the gnarled landscape in front of me the elusive jeep track ran up the ridge into the mountains. We were in exactly the right place. Looking up I saw a sky totally devoid of clouds. The wind had abated and it was a beautiful morning. Time to break camp and get to Elandsberg farm for  some breakfast.  

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