We started the day with some oats shared with John, Patrick and Lucinda, reluctant as she was to get out of bed. Then for the start of day four.
Each night we would sit down with the map and GPS to look at the next day in detail, so that we would have rough idea of what the following day would entail. Whilst planning the previous night, we decided that our GPS route was a little silly, and that we could save a lot of trouble by going up and over the back of Ndumeni cave rather than down, back up and around. How wrong we were.
That morning we toiled over what had appeared an easy hill, and looked down from the top to see where the GPS route made an easy meander onto the river plain. Darn it. I’ll admit I was very frustrated with myself, but I hardly had time to be before we saw, on the trail we were supposed to be on, a train of dagga smugglers. Now these guys really just want to do their job unimpeded, but wherever possible it can only be healthy to avoid them. Rumours of many raids in the area lately made us nervous, we could be seen as scouts or informants. And so our mistake turned out to be a positive one. One of the smugglers stopped to watch us walk high above and parallel to him, but other than that our first encounter with Basuthos was really just a passing by.
On to Yodler’s Cascades. As Josh and I walked up this river, we marveled at it’s beauty. If only we had the time to swim in it’s crystal clear blue-green pools. For kilometers they stretch on, always an abandoned kraal and hut in sight. We wondered aloud if the herdsmen appreciated the beauty of this place as we do, or if the herdsmen needed the loo constantly during the night due to the cascading waters’ constant washing. It made the eternal hill bearable.
Once at the top, lunch and an easy walk along contours for the rest of the day towards Champagne Castle and Nkosozana cave. It didn’t turn out that way. Well the contours were easy, but we were walking on the South facing slope, which was now covered in a snow-mud-sludge that made walking very difficult. The path was clear most of the way, but clearly muddy. By the time we get to the place to turn off route and divert to Nkosozana we had made up our minds, instead of the extra 2km we would rather tent near Ships Prow pass. This we did, in an amazing campsite which appears to be used regularly. We had our first taste of Freeze-Dri food that night, and wolfed it down as the cries of a jackal were heard on the wind.
The day after resupply things really hit home. We’re in for the long haul, and even that flats are tough. This was my hardest day psychologically.