Start: 08:30 End: 16:10 Distance 45km Avg: 18 km/hr Peak: Nooitgedacht (North West Province)
We have a leisurely start to the day as we don’t have far to cycle. There was a thunderstorm last night but fortunately cleared off early enough so the tents have dried out. After about 15km, we reach Van Gaalen’s Cheese Farm and have a cheat day, sharing a cheese platter and having real coffee.
After delicately dining on our cheese smorgasbord (i.e. stuffing our faces with cheese as fast as possible), we ride on to the mountain. The last 7km is down a dirt road, rendered slippery mud by the downpour of the previous evening. It’s part of the Breedt’s Neck mountain biking route as well, so we greet many mud-splattered cyclists returning home. The expressions on their faces vary from ecstatic to contemplating selling the bike. A few wish us good luck which I take as an ominous sign for the rest of the road. No major incidents however, and as we grind through the mud, the towers on top of Nooitgedacht lurk ever closer.
We arrive at Ingwe Bush Camp, dump the bikes and put on the hiking gear. As Colin ties his shoes, he notes someone in the distant camp and comments, “Oh look, another Egbert,” Egbert being a friend of his from the Groot Marico. Then he says, “And another Arno,” having spotted a second person resembling his friend Arno from the Groot Marico. It is then that he realises that it is actually Egbert and Arno from the Groot Marico, as well as some other friends from the Herman Charles Bosman Literary Society, who have driven down to support us. They had intended to meet us on top of the mountain but were driven down by bad weather. The surprise was still a great morale booster and was greatly appreciated by Colin, Maggie and me. Thank you to Arno, Egbert, Santa, Grant and Teresa.
All three of us then head up the mountain into the mist which had recently chased the members of the HCBLS down. There’s a tar road winding up to the service towers on top of the mountain but it is not an easy walk. Steep in places and as we approach the summit, the cloud closes in and visibility becomes worse. I am glad there is a road, finding the way in that grey mist would have been impossible. We make the summit but the mist is so thick, we can’t appreciate the view. It’s also become very cold so we don our raincoats and head back down.
On one side of the road is a bone yard. Maggie suggests the remnants of a vulture restaurant; I suggest it is a graveyard for unwary hikers. Fortunately we don’t find either of these true in our hike.
3 down, 6 to go. Next is supposed to be Toringkop but it doesn’t look like we are getting in to Suikerbosrand due to water issues, even though we carry our own water and have said we won’t use their ablutions. It will be a pity but we have a plan B. There is always a plan B. Often a C, D, E as well on these trips.