During May-June 2011 I walked the first section of the envisaged pilgrimage route from Grahamstown to Cape Town. It turned out to be the journey of a lifetime and - for me – worthy of being called a pilgrimage in its own right. Each night I wrote up my experiences and thoughts in my journal, and you can read the daily instalments below.
Where possible I tried to keep to the planned trail, but I set my own pace and daily distances. I was on the road for 13 days, but some of this was spent waiting for lifts or flood waters to subside. In total I probably walked about 400km. My overwhelming conclusion is that it has the potential to become a great pilgrimage trail, and I’m more committed than ever to make this a reality for others.
Marc and Mike drove through the night, picked me up in Uniondale at 2.30 in the morning, and then dropped me at the Eye and Laser Clinic in Port Elizabeth at 6 o'clock. Trevor had set everything up in advance, and the various specialists saw me as soon as they arrived in office. Three days and three operations later, I walked out of the Clinic still in my hiking clothes but with my sight fully restored. What a blessing! A quick lift back to Grahamstown with my good friend Pat, and then I walked through my front gate into my home which I had left a lifetime ago.
And in my pack I still carried a kilo of muesli.
A still clear winter’s morning has a special edge to it. Everything is touched with a sprinkling of dew, maybe even frost in places. As the sun comes up, so do tiny isolated wisps of smoky mist arise from the grass and bushes. It’s as if everything has been cleansed with a freezing cosmic spray-on that magically gets rid of yesterday’s impurities and prepares the world for today’s events. Read more: Day 12 Bo-Kloof - Verberg
Today might be a huge challenge, so I’m up early to give myself every chance of handling whatever unfolds. It is over 50km to Uniondale, though, and if I don’t get any lifts I am in serious trouble. But cars must surely travel along this road, so I should be able to get a lift. Read more: Day 13 Verberg - Uniondale
No rain since yesterday midday, and the sun is coming out. I shower and pack up. I’m getting out today, somehow.
Griet is on the radio telephone much of the time, but I don’t have a clear picture of what is happening. It seems as if the valley higher up hasn’t had as much rain as we have, and that the road is accessible to 4x4 diesel bakkies. Zandvlakte, however, is still cut off by that washaway but I gather that neighbour Chris will come through on a front-end loader, pick me up and I can then get a lift with him to Willowmore. In the meantime I help Piet take apart the waterlogged parts of the bakkie’s engine while some farm workers strip the cab. Read more: Day 11 Zandvlakte - Bo-Kloof