17 May 2012

Day Four - the mighty Bloukrans River Crossing

Dear Coco

We are now about half way along the Otter Trail and have only two days left. Today is quite scary because we have to CROSS THE BLOUKRANS RIVER which everyone has been dreading. We hear stories of people getting washed away and eaten by sharks, and read that we need 30 metres of "sturdy rope" which none of us have brought. We all woke up at 6.30 am and started our uphill trek an hour later in order to get to the river at low tide in five hours time.
Following the yellow otter pawprints on the steep and jagged rocks, we had a quick tea break in the rather polluted Witels River downstream from the Coldstream mill settlement, then hurried on.
The birders and penguin researchers in the group were interested to see a dead sub-adult African Penguin that Paul spotted at the Witels River mouth.
The Alph negotiating the steep path.
No time and no batteries left for leisurely botanizing - but a sneak photo of an Arum and a little bee.
Our hearts in our mouths, we came to the 9 km mark. THE RIVER was getting closer.
Then, all of a sudden, there is was. The mighty Bloukrans River. Or rather, the lack of it.
Time for a quick look at the flowers of the Kiepersol tree (Cussonia thyrsiflora), and a glance at the scary sign post, and a quick survey of the disappointingly small river below, before another knee-cracking descent (helped here and there by ladders - and definitely not designed for scotties)
to the river mouth. We were an hour before low tide and it was really, really low. We all had lunch, and a swim, and then some of us paddled across, getting our ankles well and truly wet, and scrambled a few feet up the rocks on the other side, while others, disappointed by the lack of a challenge, decided to walk a little way out to sea before turning right to get to the other side. This is Alice and the Alph.
Kate was determined to use her wet bag that she had carted all the way, and also waded out to sea with it.
Hey Kate! Its ok to give in and make landfall!
Wyndham and Gilly chose to cross by walking way out to sea, while drinking tea. One has to make it look difficult!
The steep climb up the other side was way more scary than the paddle.
A dead whale provided an excuse to linger a bit on a beach,
and build castles of sea urchins. This is Jonathan.The final push - another endless uphill trudge - brought us out on top of the hills in the most beautiful fynbos with hundreds of flowering Black-bearded Proteas (Protea neriifolia),
and fluffy white Knoppies (Brunia noduliflora) flowers.
Ericas to match Gilly's shorts, possibly Erica speciosa, possibly Erica chloroloma?
At last, after surviving the longest day of the Otter (13.8 kms) and a TERRIFYING river crossing, we arrived at the Andre hut
for tea. Alice went exploring and saw an otter which swam up the beach, looked at her, and back peddled in the the water again. The other hut occupants were also lucky enough to see an otter in the sea in front of their hut. (And Gilly saw some at Tsitsikamma.)
Alice, Wyndham and Gilly then went for an evening swim, but it was a tad chilly for me. (Sue's buff coming in handy!)
Anyway, Coco, that is all for now. There is cellphone reception here, which is good news because now I will be able to read while enduring the long night on the hard beds!
We can see the lights of Plettenberg Bay across the water, so we are definitely getting closer to the end.
See you soon,
love from the Food Lady

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