I have made it to Marble Hall, and great news! The wind has finally quietened down. It is the first time in almost a week that the wind is not working against me. Marble Hall is bigger than I first thought. I came through here once before and assumed it was a tiny place where nothing ever happening. I took a drive through town this time, and found some great places and a lot more than I expected, I will definitely put Marble Hall on my list of places to spend a night or two on another adventure.
Just outside of town, I pulled up to Moos River Camping Grounds. The owners are so awesome and offered for me to stay in a log cabin for the night. I was so grateful, I got some washing done, took my first afternoon nap in two months and spent the afternoon sitting at the river listening to the birds and animals settle in for the night. Truly a peaceful afternoon of rest. The evenings are cold here – I blame the fact that the river is a few meters from my doorstep. But I was snug inside my cabin and laughed at the cold. A villainous laugh as one does when you have beaten someone at something… Muahahaha
I had a great time here and met some great people. In the morning I packed up and was on my way to Groblersdal. I decided to take the road with the mountain pass, there are road works at the moment, but I figured most people will take the alternative road, leaving the pass relatively empty. And I was right, The road was quiet enough, but I still had quite the adventure getting up the pass, through road works and stop-and-go waiting points.
The morning started fine, no wind and minimal traffic. I was getting good distance and got through Groblersdal nice and early. Not much to write about. It is a busy place, a lot of people and not much to see along the route I took through town. I got to the first stop-and-go at about midday. The sign said they are blasting today and that the road is closed from 11:00-15:00. It is 13:15 now. Meaning I have to wait almost two hours before I can get going. By then I will have very little daylight to get up the pass and find somewhere to stay for the night. But I will make a plan. I always do. Funny how that happens, when you don’t fret about the plans and problems too much, it all seems to work out in the end. This time, it worked out quite nicely – ‘Tranquil-retreat-in-the-mountains’ kind of nicely…
So I spent a few minutes standing around at the road block, and met some fellow road users and a road blocker. Yes I was friendly to a road maintenance worker. We usually only have bad feelings toward them as they are the reason for our delays, not today sunshine! We had a photo session and a nice chat about life on the road and all sorts of things. my new friend, the sign operator, said I can get going sooner because I will take longer to get to the blast site, so I have a head start.
Along the way up the Kranspoort Pass I stopped at Loskop Dam. It is a massive Dam, and so beautiful. I was not able to get through the fence or get closer to the water without risking my bike being stolen. But I got to take some nice pictures of the dam and the area around it from the top. And I found my first statue that has not been vandalized or covered with political party posters. I took two photo’s just because it is such a rare find in South Africa. I have also crossed the provincial border and I am back in Mpumalanga.
I got up the first hills and around a couple of tight bends and steep parts and assumed it was the whole pass… Well, you can imagine my thoughts when I got to the foot of the ACTUAL pass. The first bit is just a sneak ‘peak’ of the Kranspoort… (Word play is fun). As I stated earlier, I was right in assuming most vehicles would use alternative routes, and I was not hindered by too many cars, but because of the road works and many, many earth moving vehicles, I had to walk most of the way. It is basically a dirt road now, as they are rebuilding the road. It was slow going and I only had narrow strips of road to slip through while giant trucks rush past, moving massive boulders down the mountain.
I managed to get up and over the pass with only one flat tyre – my tyres are so thin that the slightest stone or sharp object results in a flat tyre. I have patched more tubes this last week than the rest of the trip combined. The pass is stunning and once the road is complete it will be beautiful to drive here. I got over the top and had very little time to find a place to sleep. I pulled into a horse farm that turned out to be a Forever Resorts Lodge in the mountains. STUNNING!!!
I spoke to the general manager of Isiyala Lodge and I got to spend the night in the lodge. WOW! What a stunning place. It is so peaceful and quiet up in the mountains. Look at that swimming pool! I will definitely be back in summer to swim in it. The place is being revamped and I am told that everything is getting upgraded. (It is already beautiful, so I can only imagine the results will be stunning). There is 110km of trails for mountain biking, horse trails, hiking trails and game viewing. They have conference facilities and the lodge sleeps 24 people.
I was truly blessed to stay here. I told you things work out great in the end. And just look, I got to rest my tired smelly self in a Mountain Lodge with stunning views and awesome people who run the place.
In the morning I resisted the urge to be a cliche tourist and steal the towels. Just kidding, I have no space to pack them… I left the towels and everything as I found it – I promise, but I did not make my bed… #rebelwithoutcause
After breakfast and a nice chat to the guys that make Isiyala such a great place, I was off to Middleburg. For what turned out to be a fantastic end to part one of my adventure.
I have thought of a punch-line for my book: “The greatest wonder of the World is your perception of it”.