Last week I found myself in unusual circumstances. I had free time, a fueled bike and no idea where to go. The 10 maps in front of me did not help much. I asked friends for fresh ideas, but still came up empty handed.
I considered various destinations and routes, but nothing excited me. Maybe I needed to get back to my roots? Where did my love for biking start? Trailriding!
I knew instantly I was onto something. The CTX200 has the new pannier system just waiting to be tested. I vaguely remembered a dam I once saw on Google Earth. A huge dam built by the old government out in the sticks. What for? There is nothing there?
Two ride reports I read on the Wild Dog Forum came to mind. Luckystriker once slept in the South Cape forests – something I’ve wanted to do ever since I read that Ride Report. The other was a report by Jerrycan who saw a pan on Google Earth and went and looked for it.
It was decided. I will search for and find that dam come hell or high water. The dam is situated high in the mountains in an area I’ve never ridden before. Permission to ride there was needed and obtained. Also permission to ride on a neighboring farm with huge pieces of indigenous forests.
LGF and SCP did not need to be invited on this adventure twice. The three of us it would be. We would search for the dam, explore the greater area and set up camp where-ever we found ourselves come late afternoon.
We left on Saturday morning on a beautiful sunny day. Entering the forest on our farm:
The CTX pack donkey was heavily laden. The reason will be revealed later.
Today the temperatures would soar, but it’s nice and cool in the forest. SCP enjoying the ride:
Soon we found ourselves higher up on the mountain. The views were spectacular. You could see all the way to the ocean.
The scenery will tell the story:
Note the fishing rod. I hoped to fish for some Bass once we got to the dam
There are so many roads here. Trying to remember what LGF & I saw on Google Earth turned out to be quite a challenge. At one junction we got to five roads converged. You could ride and explore here for days!
The scenery varied between indigenous forest, plantations and open land (harvested plantations). The plantations will not be replanted. The whole area will be rehabilitated to it’s original condition.
We'd head for high point sometimes to estimate where we were. We reckoned we needed to get to the higher of those two roads:
And then, after searching and exploring, we saw it:
(Pic taken into the sun – sorry)
Look at this!
Success! I wonder why it’s here?
By now it was lunch time and we stopped in a shady spot in the forest for lunch. I had a Cheese and Mushroom Pasta salad and a nice white blend chilled to perfection (No kidding – the wine was lying in ice all the time! ). This is trail riding in style!
The dam didn’t have nice flat spots around it and it was still quite early, so we headed for the larger indigenous forests. We’d find a camping spot later. I prefer the forest to the plantations anyway.
You can ride in these mountains / forests kilometer after kilometer / hour after hour.
There were some good gravel roads, jeep tracks and single tracks. Sometimes the bark busters were working overtime!
Sometimes a muddy or sandy patch would catch you out. I had one close call – luckily I was on the small light bike!
Eventually we had to decide on a camping spot.
This site seemed to do the trick. Nice cool and shady and very scenic! Our camp for the night:
We settled in. We had an old tree stump as a bench and before long we were relaxing with a cold one.
We even brought our own braai (BBQ) and braai wood. Of course one shouldn’t remove wood from these sensitive (recovering) eco systems and so we brought our own. That’s why my steed was so heavily laden. The CTX can carry 180kg (according to the manual). Not to shabby!
LGF on the art of fire building:
On the menu tonight – T-bone steak.
Night fell and we chatted the night away. We also had the privilege to be visited by some fireflies. I flashed my torch and a firefly flew right to us. Amazing.
Unfortunately the conversation eventually turned to the "Blair Witch Project", Axe murderers and leopard…
Funny how active and imagination can get in the middle of the night in a dark forest.
Eventually we turned in. At 2 am I woke to a helluva noise. What the hell? It sounded lake a HUGE wave (like a tsunami) approaching. It got louder and louder. As it turns out it was a gale force wind running down the mountain. You could hear it approach, pass overhead and rush away. Then the next, and the next! I could hear a branch break and fall somewhere close. Scary stuff! The Blair Witch paled in comparison to the real threat of being crushed by a tree.
Funnily enough we had very little wind in our camp. It seemed to pass over us in the tree tops. It lasted until about 3 am and we could rest again.
I did hear steps around our camp later that night too, but I decided not to investigate. The next morning SCP said he heard it too...
The next morning I woke to this: The view from my tent.
Wow! Can life get any better than this? I felt like a boy again. Invigorated. Fresh air, forest sounds, amazing!
On the breakfast menu: Cappuccino and Bokomo “Up & Go”.
We packed up camp and got ready to ride. By the time we left there was absolutely no sign that any humans were there.
As it turns out our camp was only 8,5km from the farmhouse. I’ll be coming back soon! I can’t think of a better and more enjoyable trip for the boys especially. Every boy should experience nature like this.
Stay tuned. Hopefully that camping trip will be added to this one soon!
And eventually we did. Have a look at the story here: The Blair Witch Project - Concluded!