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.
Back at house I hear that Griet and Johan are quickly going to check out what is happening at the washaway, and I am told to bring my pack along in case Chris is there. I haven’t said goodbye to Piet if I happen to be able to leave, but everyone is itching to go so I hurriedly jump aboard. Almost immediately I am regretting my action, or rather lack of action. I really must become more assertive at these times. Yes it is a bit demanding to keep others waiting a little bit longer, but sometimes it is the right thing to do, and I ought to have said a personal goodbye to Piet. He is a good man in a solid sense and I would have liked to have got to know him better.
At the washaway we learn that Chris has come and gone, as there is nothing that he can do until the torrent subsides. My inactivity has passed its sell-by date, though, and with grateful thanks to Griet, I find my way onto the other side and head off. It is already about midday, and I have a long way to go, but I am clear in my mind that I’ll get whatever lifts I can and take it easy with the walking. In fact, I might even go all the way to Vaalwater tonight.
Every little kloof in the mountains has produced its own stream that flows over the road.
At first I try to place stepping stones to get across each one without getting my feet wet, but it is extremely tedious and difficult. At one place some little children help me and we have a lot of fun trying to get it right. I thank them from my dwindling supply of energy bars.
Eventually I realize that I’ll have to just walk through the water if I am to make any reasonable progress. I soon hit the places where the Baviaanskloof River itself crosses the road, and here it is genuine wading with the water over my knees at times and flowing very strongly. Perhaps unsurprisingly, no vehicles pass me.
The scenery is absolutely beautiful and I fall in love with the Baviaanskloof all over again. I’m also relishing being on the road again and walking free. At Babe se Winkel I stop to buy a coke and packet of chips and enjoy a quick rest. Another coke and chips in the pack and I’m off into the Studtis Poort. I see the river pools where we have swum on previous summer cycles through the valley, and remember how unbearably hot this place can be. But for now it is cool and I seem to have a deep-seated sense of urgency, and I stride past.
As the late afternoon shadows spread across the valley, I see an accommodation sign and hurry off to a farmhouse about a kilometre off the road. It is totally deserted and I let out my second expletive of the trip at this wasted time and effort. Wrong turns clearly press my red button! And while I am on this ompad, the only vehicle of the day drives past.
Just as it is getting dark I come across Bo-Kloof farm next to the road, and it offers accommodation. When farmer Quintis comes out he immediately asks, “Are you the Prof who is walking to Knysna?” He has apparently heard about me on the radio. He and his little boys take me to a caravan at their camping ground which is about 2km from the farmhouse. It is a wonderfully secluded spot with a beautifully reflective pool under an orange krantz. I am thrilled to be back on my way, and enjoy a relaxed supper of coke, chips, biltong and a pear. As the cold begins to bite I head for the ablutions for a nice hot shower. Only once I am starkers and shivering do I find out that the water isn’t hot yet. Oh no! I recall my matric Macbeth’s “Returning were as tedious as go o’er” and rush through the motions of soap and rinse.
Back in my sleeping bag I warm up and feel very much at peace here. I’ve managed to make up about 30km in just half a day, and tomorrow I’ll surely get a lift.