The previous night I battled to sleep, I was feeling nauseous but was unable to bring up whatever was bothering my system. Luckily we had made good strides the night before, so we slept an hour over our usual time until 6:30.
The day was windy to say the least, and we elected to walk to shelter and then make breakfast which was a great decision. After a good rest from the wind we headed on down the fertile valley, along the way seeing more life than we had the entire hike. The Lotheni side is known for this, and we had heard stories of dogs that made me edgy. Then it happened, we created our own dog story.
Josh and I were walking along the riverside, when a dog came after us like a cat out of the bath. I knew that it would leave us be as soon as we were out of it’s territory, so I made a quick left to cross the river, running as fast as I could with a full pack. I heard a laugh behind me, turned and saw Josh lying on the ground, the dog rapidly approaching. I carried on running.
It was a big laugh, and I knew Josh was okay, but I suppose I shouldn’t have left him on the ground like that. I should’ve at least taken a photo and the tent before I left him.
We had finished the day’s 20 kms by lunchtime, and walked an extra kilometer trying to find water and somewhere to shelter from the wind. I felt myself become the hunger hulk before we stopped. The cooking was slow because of the wind, and we ended up having to change gas cannisters on the stove. During the process, we lost a lot of gas, but we had enough to get us to our resupply, so no worries.
As we sat and enjoyed our food, we discussed our options. We looked up at Thabana Ntlenyana, the highest peak in Southern Africa. We were keen to take it down that day, ahead of schedule, but the wind was just too much. It attempted to knock you right over with every step, and each step took three times as much energy as it would normally. We were sad to concede we would not be able to hold our lead. Next we looked for shelter, a cave. As our eyes scoured the mountainside I spotted an abandoned hut. Perfectish.
These huts look cosy from the outside, but when you get inside, they are dirty (the bad kind), smelly, very small and only designed to sleep one person. They are pretty much only good for shelter from wind or snow, which is exactly what we needed as out tent would have been destroyed in the gusts. We spent most of the afternoon plugging holes in the walls and roof, and building a door out of rocks to shut us in. We were in for a cold and uncomfortable night.