Getaway (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - – Karen Duf­fell, Port El­iz­a­beth

Our favourite letters and mes­sages this month

A few years ago, a friend from our Cape Town hik­ing group of five in­vited us to join him on the Ship­wreck Trail. Some Ger­man and Swiss friends were also com­ing along. This trail, which is run by lo­cal farm­ers, has var­i­ous stages be­tween Port Al­fred and the Fish River. Hik­ers can select a stage or do the whole trail. The tree­house sleep­over on the first night and a day of ca­noe­ing up the Riet River ap­pealed to us. After a pleas­ant day’s ram­ble, iden­ti­fy­ing birds and ap­pre­ci­at­ing the peace of the river­ine en­vi­ron­ment, we ar­rived at dusk at the much-an­tic­i­pated tree­house. We had a lovely braai and spread our­selves be­tween the three houses built on a wooden deck. I awoke in the early hours to the roll of dis­tant thun­der. ‘Out at sea,’ I thought and turned over. Then a big elec­tri­cal storm passed over­head; cracks of thun­der and blue­and-white flashes lit up the night. The river swelled and gur­gled away. We were tucked in against the river­bank so we were not the high­est pro­jec­tory around. The fol­low­ing morn­ing we set off for the next camp. It was still rain­ing and ev­ery­where was muddy. One of our friends, in ro­bust hik­ing boots, couldn’t get trac­tion up the river­bank so we found an­other route out and un­ad­ven­tur­ously walked along the R72! We spent the next three days and two nights holed up in a dis­used ra­dio-sta­tion hut, which was dry. On day three, the farmer ar­rived dur­ing an­other down­pour, and told us it was un­safe to pro­ceed. Rivers were burst­ing their banks along the beaches – 100 mil­lime­tres of rain fell that Easter. We had a look at the stone hut up next on the trail and felt we had gone as far as we could. The moral of the story is never take the weather for granted, and let good sense tell you when to bail while you are all still friends.

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