The following morning I made another navigational error. We had aimed to go over a ridge line that looked steep, but would save us time to go over rather than 7 km around. We made the climb, but as we got to the top saw that the map was misleading. We could not pass and had to detour about a kilometer West before continuing South.
The wind picked up here and it was a force to walk against. We saw a Bearded vulture and several Cape Vultures moving effortlessly in the wind, at one point coming to hover about 10 m above our heads. What an honour it was to be there, and how grateful that we had been forced to move along the ridge before descending.
Hunger set in as we moved towards Giants Castle and no sooner were we at it’s base than we were scoffing down biltong and crackers. After hiding our packs in some crags, we headed to the summit of Giants Castle. This was a hilight for me, an hour up and an hour down without packs was bliss, and the view was unrivaled. Off of the escarpment, Giants Castle gives the last view of the Northern berg and we said our final goodbyes. The scramble up is half the fun, and the scramble down all of the fright.
On our way back to collect our bags we met with a group of herdsmen walking resolutely in the same direction we were aiming for. One of them stopped to chat and his English was pretty good. We gave our new friend Thabo the slip and collected our bags, began in the direction of camp eight. Only an hour of walking later we found Thabo walking towards us again, this time with five or six others and a donkey laden with – well you know. It turns out Thabo was part of a scout outfit, checking that the route was safe before making a drop somewhere down Giants pass.
Chuckling to ourselves about the mass of Marijuana we had just seen, we walked well past our designated mileage for the day. We stopped at a river to make supper, and after the break we still felt strong so we kept on going. We knocked 10km off of the next days trek that night in a matter of an hour and a half. It was stressful walking for me, hearing dogs barking at us the whole time, and the corresponding shouts by their owners, but it was flat, fast and easy. We only handed one cigarette out to a herdsman on a horse.
Finally, settling down on some soft, even grass, we slept like we deserved to.