Journey 2020 has really gathered momentum and groups are rapidly approaching the Grahamstown area. We have had a huge array of weather and temperature over the last week, with highs of 41 degrees and the next day things dropping to 12/13 degrees. Despite this, the groups have coped well and got on with the task at hand. The last couple of days have been almost idyllic, in that the mornings have started off cool and overcast and then the skies have cleared and we have been able to enjoy the warm afternoons at the edge of dams and rivers. We seem to have brought a bit of welcome rain to the area with the odd thunderstorm and some soft drizzly rain freshening things up along the way. Whilst the Graaff-Reinet/Cradock/Somerset East area had some good rain early in the year, we are now moving into the area just north Grahamstown and things are a lot drier. Hopefully we can pull a few rain clouds their way too! All the groups have been through the Solo site now and all seem to have enjoyed the experience of having an opportunity of some down time, a chance for reflection and recharging of batteries. The boys and girls had been asked to write a letter to their parents, a letter to their Head and a letter to themselves, that will be given back to them as they start their Matric year. We are very grateful to the Solo Team consisting of Gerry Posthumus, Rev Rachel, Rev Rich and Des Alcock for coordinating this facet of the Journey and for making it a meaningful experience for all concerned. Gerry will be scanning the letters to parents and emailing them out in the next day or so.
Group 1 have been busy with 5 days of hiking, broken by their stopover at Solo. They are making their way off the mountain behind Somerset East in wet and misty conditions and will be happy to get to the bottom where the buses are waiting to take them to the De Kaia Rest Camp for their Rest & Create day tomorrow. They have been getting up early to avoid the midday heat and are making good progress.
Group 2 are “leading the charge” in that they are hiking to Waterkloof today after their run day south of Somerset East. They had a really good Rest & Create day and produced some scrumptious potjies which they enjoyed for lunch. They then carry on with three more days hiking down into the Kommadagga area, before being picked up for their Activity Day at Hellspoort. They were up and hiking nice and early this morning and should get into camp relatively early.
Group 3 enjoyed a cool but relaxing day at Mt Marlow Lodge before also heading off on 5 consecutive days of hiking into Olivewoods Farm. We are visiting and camping on numerous Old Andrean and Old DSG family farms and are always made to feel most welcome. Names like Wienand, Hobson, Delport, Bowker, Jurgens, Holmes, De Wet, Murray, Buchanan all Have links with our schools. Wendy and Brett Wienand of Olivewoods have been hosting groups for many years and Wendy was looking forward to having our youngsters around whilst she was hosting her young grandchildren. I am quite sure that the girls and boys will love playing with them, the same way that they embrace the many dogs that they encounter along the way. Group 3 has been very workmanlike in all that they have done and take most anything in their stride.
Group 4 are enjoying a Rest & Create day at Olivewoods today and will be very happy to be sitting around their potjie fires on what has been a cool and damp start to the day. They had a successful series of hikes through Solo and will head off tomorrow on a run towards the Riebeek East area, before joining the cycling team for their three day stint of cycling in the Kommadagga/Douglas Heights and Committees Drift areas.
Group 5 have been cycling from north of Cookhouse and are also headed towards Riebeek East. They will finish up today at the Delport’s Farm where they will enjoy a Rest & Create day tomorrow in the grounds of their lovely home. Lemons are one of the things that they grow and they always spoil the groups with some delightful homemade lemon syrup. This will be followed by a couple of days hiking past Riebeek East before also enjoying an Activity Day at Hellspoort.
It really feels like we are on the way down to the coast now. Obviously there are still plenty of hills to climb on the way, but before we know it we will be at the Fish River Mouth. For some that may prove to be a huge relief, whilst for others, they may never want it to end! It is quite extraordinary how the group bond develops over the time out here. Shared experiences, both fun and tough, cement these relationships in a way that is difficult to have happen anywhere else. One really hopes that the lessons learnt, the memories made and the friendships forged will last for many years to come.
Until next time