Day 3: Manoutsa to Ohrigstad

16 March 2015

Start: 07:30 End: 14:00 Walking distance: 20km Walking elevation change: 501m Cycling distance 10+30km

Our roaming home for the next 6 weeks.

Our roaming home for the next 6 weeks.

Short 10km cycle to the base of Abel Erasmus Pass at which point we load the bikes onto the trailer and change into our hiking gear. The pass isn’t one of our 9 Peaks but it is too steep to get up there on a Buffalo bicycle. We are still sticking to our mandate and not using motorised transport, so we are walking 18km up the pass and collecting our bikes at the top. It’s a long, hot, steep walk. Puzzled by the many signs offering “Manekis”. Is it a type of fruit? Is it the name of the village? After passing a few vendors, we realise they must refer to the carved wooden men for sale – “mannetjies”. Most of vendors on the roadside appear puzzled at seeing two people choosing to walk up the hill, rather than the conventional means of car or possibly aeroplane. They still try to sell us heavy wooden Africana statues. I admire their entrepreneurship but decline on lugging a 20kg piece of art to the summit. I’m strange that way.

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Day 2: Iron Crown to Manoutsa

15 March

Start 09:00 End 16:00 Distance: 125km Avg: 20km/hr

The 9 Peaks Tour team. Maggie (backup driver), Colin (expedition leader) and Bianca (provider of sarcastic commentary).

The 9 Peaks Tour team. Maggie (backup driver), Colin (expedition leader) and Bianca (provider of sarcastic commentary).

 

We portage to base of Iron Crown to start the first leg of the cycle. Leg is an apt word as our thighs are a bit sore from the previous day’s hike. My non-dodgy knee also moans a bit. My dodgy knee sallies forth without complaint. We head towards Tzaneen. These are some very steep, winding mountain roads. At this time, I discover my back pedal brake isn’t working so well, Colin thinks it is due to the greasing at its pre-trip service. Carry on carefully; it’s easy to hit 60km/hr or more on a bicycle but we keep to less than 40km/hr. I institute cadence braking and it seems to work better at controlling the descent speed. Some steep downhills mean some tough climbs as well, at considerably slower speed. The views are magnificent and much better appreciated at cycling pace.

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Day 1: Iron Crown

Colin pausing to admire the scenery.

Colin pausing to admire the scenery.

14 March 2015

Start 13:15 End 17:00 Peak: Iron Crown (Limpopo) 2126m

We decide to use the last of the daylight hours and climb Iron Crown on the day of arrival in Haenertsburg so we can get cracking on the cycle first thing the next day. We see our first peak looming over the drop-off point; little did I know that the peak one can see from the road is not actually the highest point. Yay.

We meet bushbuck in first few minutes of hike which comes crashing out the bushes and over the road. I think it may have been a woodland sprite of the past coming to wish us goodbye and good luck.

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