Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Beeg Day

We left Allandale in the dark with warmish weather which buoyed our spirits. Soon some of the guys disappeared up front but Doug and Fiona teamed up and got a good system going with their navigation. Eventaully Mark and Danie joined them and we headed off throught the forests leading to Donnybrook. After Donnybrook was the most spectacular indigenous forest (Nxumeni). The funny thing is that the navigation adds such a different dimension with the front riders suddenly arriving from behind. We rode quite quickly to Centacow which has a magnificient church established by trappist monks.
Then the epic began with the weather beginning to close in with drifts of rain as and indicator of things to come. The rain obscured many of the navigational features which were key to decision making but we muddled through crossing rivers and wandering through plantations. We got lucky with turning off the mountain to find that we had leapfrogged all the riders who had gone around Bosholweni Peak instead of turning off early.
Man, it was a slog after that with much portaging and pushing and the rain was fairly continuous. Combined with this was wind which created a wicked chill factor.
We got colder and colder and the rain added to our misery. Eventually we entered the Ntshikeni Reserve and the last five kays were a race against the dark which was coming early. Huge puddles of water impeded our progress and both Doug and Fiona fell into the water.
Eventually we spotted the little lights of the lodge. As we got into the lodge we were welcomed with blankets, soup and a roaring fire.
It took a while to stop shivering. It had been a long day - 11:30 in all. The wind and rain continued throughout the night but we were snug indoors and had a welcome long sleep before the trek to Masakala.
The overall distance was 101km.

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