Adding up the days
Saturday, 23 August 2008
It’s been a relentless build of day after day hammering away at the kilometres. The weeks have now become months and I can feel that my body is taking longer to recover. The terrain has also become less hospitable, from flat coastline to rolling hills and now rugged cliff tops and deep eroded valleys. Coastal tracks have become narrow paths hugging the sides of cliffs, drops of a few hundred meters fall away below you, small game scurrying in the bush has been replaced by gulls and rock pigeons flying next to you. Some areas have become so overgrown with vegetation or others torn apart by massive storm erosion that we have been forced to follow the roads on some days.
Descending into Natures Valley, one feels transcended in time as you become enveloped in the ancient indigenous forest, yellow woods hundreds of years old, standing proud with tufts of beard moss hanging in its branches. Creepers cascade from tree tops tens of meters into the forest below. Imagine the centuries that have passed and the changes that have gone on around as these giant trees have slowly pushed skywards and now stand tall surveying the forest below.
The sun was just climbing above the horizon, elbowing its way through the clouds as we walked the beach to cross the mouth of the Sout River. Stripping we waded through the tidal channel and up the steep rock face at the end of the Otter trail, a challenge to be completed by nightfall.
The trail consists of mountain after mountain interlinked by deep valleys, carefully hidden under the canopy of the indigenous forest. Soft velvet green landscape to the eye, but scratch under that surface and a rocky rollercoaster unfolds to which there is no turning back… With no time to wait for the correct tide to do our river crossings swimming was the only way. The longer the day dragged the steeper the mountains became and with this, every last bit of beauty seemed to be wrung out of the day, the drips of beauty then turned into rain. Down it came. Initially just a light patter on the canopy above, a soothing sound as we toiled on in the humidity. The leaves above seemed to no longer be able to hold out, finally bending under the weight of the water and through it came, torrents of rain soaking us to the bone, hour after hour we pushed on through the black mud as the rain just seemed to endlessly fall as the forest came alive with the deafening sound of rain frogs croaking as the marked there territory, looking for a mate.
The drone of the rain on leaves then changed slightly as a gentle breeze slowly wound its way through the undergrowth, just enough to blow the trapped heat from between the layers of clothing and the chill set in. Slippery under foot, steep rocky slopes, tired legs and then the fading light, what more could one ask for – we then lost the trail.