It’s been almost a year and a half ago that I got the urge to visit the Wolkberg with only one goal in mind - to visit the Wonderwoud. My batteries needed charging. A year ago a friend though he was doing me a favour by taking me to …. a pine forest. Well, the idea was there – but for some reason, my batteries were never charged.
When I mentioned this to Ruan, a friend of mine, he insisted that we go. Since he owns an adventure camp, I immediately assumed that he would be able to navigate and get us exactly where I wanted to be … in the forest.
I got GPS coordinates, a map and a GPS. Except for one slight mistake where we took the wrong turnoff, we arrived at the MCSA hut without any navigational mishaps. Ruan, who was adamant to roughen it, left his tent behind and was happy to sleep in a hammock. His original idea was to live off the land, but luckily I took enough food with for both of us.
The next morning I was awakened by gospel music. Nooo, you can’t bring any commercial music – or a phone! He grabbed his headphones – and the only music I heard after this was his singing. We decided to take the car down and walk the 5km back to the hut before hiking down to the forest. He was still out to roughen it, and suggested that we take a shortcut through the pine forest. I was able to convince him that there were lots of obstacles to overcome before the end of the hike. Back at the hut, I punched in the GPS coordinates for Serala Peak, Paul Kruger’s nose, and other important essential places. He decided to go for the shortcut – straight to the top. This turned out to be a bad choice. It took us twice as long since we struggled through the bushes. Once on top, we had a look at the GPS. It showed that we had to head South West. I noticed Cairns and a path heading east, and for some reason, the GPS showed that the place to go down to the forest was indeed east. Since this was almost the opposite direction the GPS showed us to before, I stopped to check the GPS. It did not want to take me further than the screen saver. I tried again, and the same happened. I removed the batteries, made sure the coordinates were correct, and then a weird thing happened. The GPS pointed to South West again. My gut feeling told me to follow the cairn – but Ruan, still feeling adventurous, said we must follow the GPS and off he walked, taking the shortest route – which meant another very long bundu bashing stretch. We did not get far before I admitted that it was a bad calling ignoring the cairns as well as taking the ‘shortest’ route. We have now been struggling for 7 hours, and the GPS said we still had 2km to go. And then we reached a sheer cliff face – and the GPS showed that we were only 800m away – but there was absolutely no way down. Ruan brought a rope with, but when he suggested that we climb down, I wisely refused. I was starting to get really worried. We had run out of water so did not even consider heading back to the hut. Luckily we found some water and Ruan set off east to try and make sense of our predicament.
In the meantime, I studied the map. Things did not add up. After an hour, Ruan arrived, excitedly announcing that he could see Paul Kruger’s nose. It was already too late so we camped.
We were up early, eager to get to the forest. When we got to the place where Ruan ‘spotted’ the nose, I immediately decided to call it a day. The ‘nose’ was at least 300m away and there was a cliff between us. If it was the nose, we would definitely get lost in the forest – especially after getting lost on top of the mountain.
The hike back was not unadventurous. Slugging through heavy vegetation was not easy and Ruan had two nasty falls. He also managed to almost get his eye poked out by a thorn tree.
I did not get to feel the energy of the forest, but I saw beautiful butterflies, flowers and even two Knysna Loeries. I will just have to make a plan to go back. This time I will make sure I know what was wrong with the GPS and I will head straight for the forest!