The last few days have been amazing, I cycled from Hazeyview up to Graskop and pushed on to about 28km other side of town for a good 65km day. Half of which was uphill and through lush forest. A beautiful scenic route that felt good, even when I was chased by a blood thirsty Rottweiler ( I imagine his name was something like Killer or something ironic like Tiny – just to mock the people its owner feeds it). But I managed to muster the energy and leg power to get away from certain death. Stupid dog…
I got to stay on an absolutely stunning farm, and awoke to a blanket of pure white clouds over the mountains around me. And behind me, a tall, old pine plantation just to frame the picture perfect scene that unfolded as dawn approached.
Just quickly, on the topic of animals and near death experiences: I have a sneaky feeling that the four legged citizens of SA are not really very nice. I have been chased by a Rottweiler, held hostage by blood-thirsty geese, and nearly became road kill at the hooves of a horse. I might have to write a chapter in my book just on ‘how to survive farm animals and flightless birds’.
Before I left the farm, I helped load workers and seeds off down at the Treur river, where they are planting onions for winter harvest. The farm house is an old Voortrekker resting post. The buildings are still standing despite vandalism and the erosion of time.
I have a long day ahead, a 90km stretch that winds up a mountain pass and through the J.G. Strydom Tunnel. I get to enjoy some breathtaking scenery of the Blyde River Canyon, the Three Rondawels, and so many other places I cannot go to on this trip. All these places are tucked away nicely behind expensive lodges. Sadly, I do not have the money or time to go in to see each place, so my bucket list is growing again, and I will enjoy the views from the road for now.
At a lookout point along the way I went to take a closer look at the hugeness of this place. I know hugeness is not exactly an awe inspiring way to put it, but it is big, I felt so small standing there looking at how big the world is, and how big the Creator of it all is. It was humbling to me, reminding me that I am insignificant in the greater picture, but yet so loved and protected. Knowing I have a place and purpose in this massive place is energizing. I find strength in the fact that I am insignificant in the greater scheme of things, it takes a lot of weight off my shoulders to constantly have to perform at a faultless level. Mistakes on the scale of my existence are so tiny compared to, oh I don’t know, the sun disappearing, that I have a sense of freedom to make mistakes and learn from them now. Without thinking the world is going to end because of said mistakes.
I met two couples from Switzerland here and again along the way much later in the day. They gave me some energy bars from Switzerland (quite tasty, I might add, although I could not read the labels to tell you what they were) and we bid each other farewell and safe travels. A nice downhill stretch and some beautiful citrus farms farther and I was at the T-junction that goes up the pass or back to Lydenburg via a different route.
I pulled into Emmie’s Kombuis and had some coffee with the owner and got some Zambuck for my poor cracked lips. Tannie Emmie gave me some home made biscuits and I was ready for the climb up the mountain.
I did it, no lifts, no cheating. I walked and pushed and slowly made my way up to the top of two steep inclines. And as always, the satisfaction of getting to the top is so invigorating I could not help but smile and give a small victory roar. It was not really a roar, more like a winded croaky cough, but I felt like a lion claiming new territory. Down hill now, a lot of down. And before I know it I am at the entrance to the tunnel. And yes, I did go toward the light at the end.
And check out the Caves and waterfall against the backdrop of the entrance of the tunnel
Those caves stretch all the way back to the other side of the mountains at the Echo Caves.
Other side of the tunnel I have 22km of tar and then 9km of dirt road to the farm where I am staying for the night, and about 45 minutes of daylight left… I might have mentioned before that timing and planning are not my strong suites.
I push on and try my best to get there, but about 2km before the entrance to the dirt road I pulled over in the pitch dark and waited for my amazing, generous hosts to fetch me. It gets dark so fast here with these mountains. At 16:54 the sun hit the top of the mountain, at 17:30 I could not see the road in front of me. Pitch dark in leopard and hippo territory. I was told later there were sightings on the road I was supposed to take into the farm, about an hour before I got there)
I spent the night on a farm called Liverpool. How awesome is that? Liverpool in Limpopo. I got some amazing photos and the next morning after patching a flat tyre and packing my snacks for the road I was off toward Tzaneen for a weekend rest stop. This place is so wild. Snakes under almost every bush, leopards stalking people and bugs everywhere. Hippo’s roaming free and basically just a sense of being immersed in nature. I love it. Every rock you turn over could be the house of a scorpion or spider. Such a contrast to the risks of a city – where humans are more likely to cause you harm than animals and critters.
More to come soon about my stay in Tzaneen and Mooketsi. (Yes that is a real place)
Word of advice, I stopped at a fruit stall at the tunnel, the lady promised me a free grapefruit – seems legit right?… It cost me my towel as she was much better at negotiating than me. Never stop at a stall and believe that anything is for free… I now have to drip dry, but I did get to eat a nice fresh breakfast, which is nice. When she asked if I still needed my shoes, I just left…