We are now into Day 4 of Journey 2020. Things have gone off really well and we have been blessed with excellent weather so far. Even though the weather forecast for today was for very cold and wet, and we did wake up to some heavy mist early this morning, I am on the Welgemoed side of the Nardousberg (Angel, as the boys and girls refer to it!) and things have actually cleared up quite nicely, meaning that Groups 3 and 4 should have a cold but successful hike over the mountain. I was able to pick them up about 2/3 of the way up the mountain at 07h30 this morning, this after a 04h30 departure for Group 3 and 05h30 departure for Group 4. There has been a wonderful spirit in all the groups and they are starting to work out their unique modus operandi and the best way to do things. The chatter around the fires and the general enjoyment of being out here and sharing time with friends is wonderful to witness.
Group 1 are off cycling today after having climbed over Nardousberg yesterday. This they did in perfect weather and summitted nice and early. They will ride to the farm, Clifton, today, owned by one of the Holmes family who had a boy recently at College. They will then head towards the Fish River, where they will camp on the banks tomorrow and then on to Cradock for the last of their cycle leg.
Group 2 were one of the two groups that took on the Nardousberg on the second day of Journey and had a good climb to the top but found the way down equally tough and had a long day out there. They followed this up with a short hike yesterday before heading to the Fish for the river rafting day today. They will find conditions on the water pretty cold but should have loads of fun. They will then have a slow day on Tuesday before starting a series of hiking days, broken up by Solo in the middle.
Group 3 have made really good progress as they hike towards the base of Nardousberg. After a pleasant camp stay last night they headed off very early this morning, even before the sky had lightened! I was able to see that they had made good progress and they should get to Petrusdal mid-afternoon. On arrival they will be bused to the Fish River for a day of rafting tomorrow, before doing a run into Cradock on Wednesday.
Group 4 have had a relatively quiet start, having been dropped near Karoo River Rafters and doing two short hikes before spending yesterday river rafting. Although conditions were quite hot they had lots of fun and arrived out at Welgemoed nice and early, allowing them to enjoy their campsite and an evening around a fire. They too headed off early this morning and were not far behind Group 3 going up Nardousberg. They should get there in the latter part of the afternoon and will be able to enjoy a shower and some rest. They will have a short hike tomorrow from Petrusdal to Rietpoort before heading towards Cradock and a day’s running.
Group 5 really did well to get over the Nardousberg in double quick time and were able to relax and ease into a short hike to Excelsior yesterday. They had a really nice evening, having spent the afternoon in the shade of a stand of poplars and were off again this morning hiking down to Spring Grove. They will be bused out in the morning to take on a day of running towards Cradock and that will be followed by a day of river rafting on Wednesday.
All in all, it is all good out here and it is great to be away from the stresses of a Covid-dominated environment. The countryside is in much better shape than it has been over the last few years and it is great to be able to access the mountain streams and springs again along the way.
Signing off for now.