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.