The Knight in Shining Armour

Trip Start May 25, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of South Africa  ,
Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Day two, and I'm already nervous after the struggle that was day one, let alone the nerves already building for day three that people are saying will be one of the biggest challenges of the whole trip!

First thing is first - try and dry out the wet stuff, the wet tent, the wet clothes - to no avail obviously - but try anyway. Eat muesli (whoops - hope noone notices I threw mine away)

Put on boots and get ready to walk. Actually - the conversation (in Afrikaans) had mentioned not to bother with the boots as we were going to be swimming across a river within a few hundred metres of the descent to the beach - so that was useful!

And this is when I wish I was a little bit taller. The 'scouts' made it across with only the bottom of their backpacks getting dunked - but as they are all about a foot taller than me I wondered if the whole of the week would be spent dripping wet!

Then a local chap arrived with a canoe, and for R5 offered to take us and our bags to the other side. I didn't want to look such a wimp as to not get wet, but when some of the others also agreed to it, I put in my request too, and enjoyed the 20 second drift to the other side.

I was most worried about my feet, that had become absolutely sodden the previous day, and had failed to dry fully overnight, so were white and wrinkled upon being squished back into the wet boots this morning. Blisters and raw spots were a possibility by the end of the day, but I was still trying to hold them off.

Anyway, on we trod through the Mkambati Nature Reserve which is mostly a wilderness area. It is a beautiful place with waterfalls and rock pools where you can swim. There are antelope and cats and a number of shipwrecks along the way. Although some parts are accessible by car and then a shorter day hike, the majority of the time it was just us in the green wilderness.

We stopped for lunch at a pool so folks could swim. Again, I missed this discussion (Afrikaans language is not my forte) and scrambled across the top of the waterfall before realising the others had descended to the bottom. Too bad. So I left my bag, grabbed some lunch and went down to join them.

It was a lovely spot near Strandloper Falls, but I felt keen to keep moving, as we were only about a third of the way to the final camp site and it was already after midday. So I went back up to organise my water, only to bump into a family, who seemed just as surprised to see me. The rest of the group were out of view.

We began chatting, and they were staying at a local lodge, and offered me a lift! No thanks, says I , we are walking the wild coast trail together, and I motioned towards the other 12 at the bottom of the gorge.

'Well at least let us take your bags'

What! Hmm. Shit - that's a great offer - what to say - I want to say yes, but would the others be ok with that? I don't know if they would see it as an interference and a cheat......crap - urm....

I think he could see what I was thinking, and so I said I would like to ask the group before accepting as it was a group challenge and not my decision. So I raced back down to see Riaan, the leader and explained to him. After explaining that I hadn't asked for help, and after a quick introduction, Tony = Riaan, Riaan = Tony, the group seemed happier and it was agreed - we would give him our bags, and pick them up from the lodge as we walked past, a few km's before out intended camping spot.

Now perhaps we can enjoy the day!

Everyone grabbed their rain jackets, cameras, water, a few snacks and we loaded up two jeeps with 13 bags, much to the amusement of the rest of his family, young and old.

The rest of the afternoon was a blast. People chatted freely, and had more capacity to explore the impressive rocky landscape. We made up some time and Tony was almost waiting for us as we got to within roughly 1km of our home.

It really did make a difference to my day, and I think to everybody's overall appreciation of that part of the walk. We thanked Tony so much and walked on to camp close to Msikaba River.

We found a lovely spot on the beach under a rocky shelf-like cave next to the river. So both fresh water and shelter allowed us to have a wash, sit outside and enjoy dinner together, see the stars and be thankful for a better day.

As I washed the dinner pots with Hugo (jobs were done on rotation) in the dark, tiny white snails came and latched on to my ankles. They stabbed so hard and I pulled them off immediately, then Hugo cried 'Where's the pot gone?' And by the light of the head torch we saw it floating off down the river. Grab it Hugo - go man, go! But it was worth the washing, as the chocolate pudding they made next was delicious.

And so to bed. Thank you Tony Caffey from ABSA bank in Durban. You made 13 people very very happy today.

A brief exert from my very brief diary, written on the night of day two:

"Walking with the group. I'm worried about tomorrow. It's another 20km. I am unfit and have a wobbly bag that I find hard to lift! How silly. Please God, let me make it!"
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