A fine Friday afternoon and a leisurely drive soon transported us into another world, up the eye-opening Dasklip Pass to the Groot Winterhoek area. A group of us had been invited to hike on private land, mostly unchartered, but being a veritable bunch of hardened mountain goats this was all the more enticing.
After a glowing sunset beside the farm dam, bantering about a ‘real log fire’ beneath a star strewn sky, we camped in the fynbos. We woke to dew sodden coverings and bright blue sky, then set off walking with the owner and her guests, some being botanists. After some interesting snippets of conversation we separated, going our way with larger-than-daypack loads and the all-important topographical maps. We were headed to cross the Dwars and the Olifants Rivers, a few times, over the next two days.
Almost two years before, fire swept across the area now leaving our progress relatively clear through the new vegetation, filled with small flowers and bursting with bright growth. After the fires, the ground was soft and the rocks loose, giving us some cautious slippery-slidey downhills and unfortunately our only mishap for the day! One member of our party (while describing her accident years before on the Orange River) face-planted off a rock and into more rocks… minutes ticked by as we waited to understand the extent of her injury, shading her inert body from the hot sun. We shouted downhill to alert the front runners and regroup to make a plan, eventually our patient stirred and managed to soldier on while others carried the extra backpacks.
The river was obviously – somewhere – far below us engulfed in the dense green of the valley but next came the RIDICULOUS, a stagger and fight through dense, hostile vegetation, even the tallest of us disappeared in the height of the scrub, strangled by loops of dodder.
At last the Olifants River, a belly-high crossing and a stunning white sand campsite with a dew-drenched encore! Waking up for more boulder hopping, bushwhacking, ‘mountain reading’ and decisions for the route up and out of there. Beautiful, gorgeous, breathless… what better place to be! Open vlaktes, magical rock formations, crystal clear waters, good company, can it get much better than this?