18 March 2015
Start: 07:30 End: 14:30 Cycling distance: 48km. Avg: 11km/hr Peak: Die Berg (Mpumalanga) 2331m
Commence the day’s cycle with a 1.5km cycle uphill. It wakes the legs up in the rudest way possible. At least the weather is overcast. There’s a slight chill and we pass several mounds of hail from the night before as we crawl up the slopes. The ride is undulating but uneventful. We meet Maggie at the base of Steenkampsberg Pass.
The entrance to Die Berg is at the top of the pass so she is going to wait for us there in the backup vehicle with our hiking gear. We ride about a kilometre and then get off and push. We continue to push our 25kg Buffaloes for the duration of the upward section of the pass as it’s too steep to ride. This 5km/hr slog is reflected in our average speed for the day of 11km/hr. With our portage vehicle merrily waiting at the top, I can’t but help feel we planned this poorly…
Eventually we reach Mordor. Sorry, I mean the top of the pass. We exchange our cycling gear for hiking gear. I managed to buy memory foam insoles for my hiking boots in Lydenburg, as the last hike did a demolition job on the soles of my feet. I hope they do the trick although I am wagering that they become Senile Dementia Insoles by the time this trip is done.
The hike up Die Berg is actually a walk up a winding ribbon of tarred service road so fairly straightforward but not easy. The top of the mountain is covered in mist and it gets cold when not moving. When the cloud breaks, glimpses of the hilly grassy landscape can be seen; quite a contrast from the wooded hills of Iron Crown. We don’t hang around long due to the chill and proceed back down.
We swap our gear again (I take longer every time as I have to change my shoes – I’m not ready to part with my cleated mountain bike shoes under the belief that if I change back to toe straps, I will fall off and kill myself) and zoom off down the pass.
The world really does look different from the back of the bicycle. We notice several minor features of the landscape that would be missed in a car. We stop to admire a series of cascading waterfalls which lead into a deep heavily wooded gorge. I comment that it is a lucky landowner that gets to admire that view although there are no signs of nearby habitations or roads. Might be best admired from afar and left untouched.
We arrive at the accommodation in style – by pushing up the dirt road that leads in. The owners are very nice – Karin kindly donates money to Qhubeka. Lowmas Creek; highly recommended. There’s a cosy pub too on the premises, we will have to come back to take advantage of it someday.