On Friday, 25 June, a group of eight senior pupils and Ms Bartosch, dumped their heavily laden backpacks in the school bus and headed for the Northern Cape. The feelings in the bus ranged from ‘anticipation’ to ‘we’ve waited too long for Adventure Week’. We wanted to be out of the urban environment.
After the compulsory pit stop at Picketberg, we continued our trip north up the N7. As we travelled north, the skies became clearer, we turned right through Van Rynsdorp and up the pass onto the plateau to Niewoudtville. Here we were forced to wait as the person who we needed to pay was not in the office. As we waited I could see the clouds coming closer.
By the time we parked at Groot Tuin it was 13:40 and the skies had darkened. We put on our rain gear and walked in light rain all the way to our first hut, Brakwater, a distance of 4,5 km. The group walked, climbed ladders and jumped rocks completing the obstacle course in under 2hrs. We saw a group of four zebra but no springbok. Then then rain really set in. It poured, the wind howled, but the roof did not leak. The only problem: the pit toilet is 50m from the hut with no roof!
The rain and mist continued on Saturday morning, but the skies lightened and the sun was trying hard. We decided to walk for the next hut. About 1 km into the walk, we had to stop, take off boots, socks and roll up pants to above knee height for the first stream crossing. Serious mud, no dry place to put belongings down. Ms Bartosch decided that the nearest hut was too near and that as the sun was trying to shine, we would head for Olienhoutbos hut. The jeep track we were walking on was completely washed away, fortunately with a minor detour we did not have to swim a fast flowing stream. Although the signpost to Olienhoutbos was in place, the path was very overgrown with a fast flowing stream alongside it. It started to rain again so we continued to the next hut at Praamkoppie. We walked 8,3 km. It rained intermittently for the rest of the day, so we played cards, read our books, knitted, listened to music and even danced.
On Sunday morning we awoke to clear skies and a rising sun, but cold conditions. We opted to stay at Praamkoppie, as we were the only group in the Nature Reserve. Without our backpacks, just snacks and water bottles, we walked up the back of the escarpment onto the plateau and along the edge for about 5km enjoying the views and fresh air, returning to camp 4 hours later. This was the first time that we had cell reception. While sitting on the front stoep in the afternoon, talking rubbish, drinking coffee, we hear this strange creaking and groaning sound, then a thud. All this water comes gushing down from behind the hut. So we all run to the back to see what’s happened. The structure that the water tank was standing on, broke, and the tank fell and split open. We filled all the receptacles we had from the river.
Having checked the weather forecast for Monday on Sunday evening, we opted to walk out before that rain started. We walked 8,6 km in very good time and were at back at Groot Tuin by 11:30.
The group walked well and coped with the adverse conditions. There were no grumbles or complaints and we returned home dirtier, but in far better spirits than when we left.