Saturday 26 March 2011
06h00: The plan of action was to pick up the five girls from the Tshwane home of Hope for the first part and some climbing in the Magaliesberg. We travelled in convoy with members of MCSA to Hekpoort, dropped off the hikers and then drove to the parking area at Crystal Springs to pick up the rest of the hikers before returning for the start of the hike. A nice lunch somewhere along the hike would follow and finally, we would arrive at the Grootkloof camping spot where we would have a peaceful time pitching the tents and practicing our abseiling techniques.
I could sense a flicker of panic in the girls faces when I dropped them off with the other youngsters at the designated starting point.
For me, it was time to overcome my fear of 4X4ing. I had no choice but to follow the fearless drivers to the parking area where I parked my little Terios 4X4, bought 4 years ago after discovering there were no Camel men left in Africa. I discarded 80% of the food Jared brought before joining the rest of the 12 hikers in the two 4X4’s before heading for the starting point. Miemie and Pieter’s son tackled the bad roads with no fear, while I chatted non-stop, thanking my lucky stars that it was not me behind the wheels and pretty soon we joined the eager waiting girls’s. More repacking followed before we all set off on the Magaliesberg Traverse.
An adventurous hike followed where:
- Every snake we encountered was announced by a scream;
- Thunderstorms had just about everyone creeping into rock shelters, where some boy’s talents for building shelters were displayed, and some volunteers braved the rain in order to take some action pictures, waiting for lightning to strike and trying to remember what not to do when caught in a thunderstorm;
- Ponchos and raincoats made the hike extremely colourful and
- Those that managed miraculously to stay dry, got wet crossing the river close to the campsite.
The adventure did not stop once we arrived at the camping site where:
- My stove’s gas cylinder turned out to be empty;
- My “fool proof” 2 minute noodles surprise turned into tasteless soup and
- The girls had to go without sugar since I left the sugar at the parking area.
Becoming part of Earth Hour was a given! We were all in bed shortly after 18h00.
Sunday 27 March
Early morning: After 30 minutes of heavy rain, 29 people were sleeping peacefully in their tents. The rest of us were trying to get rid of the pool of water in the 4 tents. Trying not to disturb the late sleepers, we hiked down to the bottom of the kloof where the raging water made it clear – there would be no kloofing today.
After two cups of strong coffees the 5 girls were woken up. Some of them mastered the art of staying dry whilst packing up their tents in the rain before setting of for the parking area. No amount of persuasion could get them singing whilst hiking in the rain, but I did spot smiles creeping back after they all got into dry clothes once back at the parking area. After Ivan stopped at the garage for some hot chocolate, the smiles were back in full force.
Driving back in the heavy rain, we discussed what worked and what didn’t work and it was not long before I had them all safely back. And I am convinced that all the adventures would create hours of conversation for years to come.
A HUGE thank you to the members of MCSA, Magaliesberg Section and the SOAPkidz volunteers for an incredible weekend.
From my side, if I got one girl to notice the beauty surrounding us whilst hiking in the pelting rain, soaked and on an empty stomach, I can truly say it was a huge success. The process of preparing them for the ultimate Drakensberg challenge had truly begun!