Monday, November 16, 2009

Day 7 - De Rust to Green Point - 551km


I wanted to ride along the foot of the Swartberg and through the Anysberg . Views like this give me great pleasure.

Having taken up Adventure biking it has got me to these wonderful places – Swartberg in this case.

In particular I wanted to ride the little gravel road from Kruisrivier to Calitzdorp. This is the Koos Raubenheimer dam

I have seen a slide show of Gamkaskloof (Die Hel) from before the road was built when the community still lived & farmed there. This is similar – small fields and meadows because they used horse drawn ploughs (and hand ploughs also). Gamkaskloof has been allowed to revert to thorn bush wilderness and the social history has been obliterated unless you stay at the farm which is still privately owned & worked right at the end of the valley furthest from the pass. That was a very special community but the press made out that they were a crowd of imbeciles as the consequence of interbreeding and the place was also called Die Hel – in fact it was a wonderful environment before the road with a community of God fearing hard working salt of the earth types. A great social violence was inflicted by the popular press in the 60s by what they wrote about that community.

A little house like they had in Gamkaskloof with the Swartberg behind and a small field in front. Very reminiscent of the old Gamkaskloof photos I was shown.

The road is very attractive with the Swartberg all along the side. I am very pleased to have chosen to ride this route.

A gabled farmhouse along the way, Groenkloof. That is quite a late style gable and I suspect it is a fairly new building. That steeply pitched corrugated iron roof is typical of thatched roof – often when they are converted to corrugated the pitch is lessened. However I still think it is a recent building where they have given it a correctly pitched roof. Alternatively the simple old building has had a gable added to make it look more imposing. Any way a Cape Dutch gabled building does look good in this setting & the correctly pitched roof helps.

I saw different tortoises. This may be the endangered Angulate Tortoise, Chersina angulata

I am very surprised that I can’t find a list of tortoises with pictures through Google. It transpires there are more different tortoises in South Africa than any other country. Is this a padloper?

The previous day I had seen this much bigger fellow in Baviaans. The shell is distinctly folded outwards/upwards at the front legs. I don’t know who he is.

Calitzdorp dam.

This is Towerkop near Ladismith. About the first real rock climbing ever done in South Africa was by a local here.

Dominating the town of Ladismith on Route 62 in the Karoo is the distinctive cleft dome of Towerkop, a peak full of character, legends and history. The story goes that the peak was slashed by a witch. In a hurry to fly home, the peak loomed before her and in a rage she thwacked it with her broomstick splitting it in two. --------------------------------------------------- 2197m, twice as high as Table Mountain, Towerkop is one of few peaks in the world that can only be summitted with the aid of climbing gear. Gustav Nefdt, who grew up within sight of Towerkop, was first to climb the peak. On a bright October night in 1901, 21year-old Gustav and five of his friends were sleeping on the ledge below the summit. Nefdt woke early with Towerkop emerging from its morning mist. He snuck out of camp, traversed to the opposite side of the peak, removed his boots and in stockinged feet, with superhuman strength and nerve, climbed to the summit without a rope. Elated with his success, he built a mound of stones under which he buried one of his socks. Ladismith was not overjoyed at the news. In fact they didn’t believe him. Not even a lizard could scale the sheer face of the dome! They must have been turning in their graves at what we saw that weekend! Nefdt was cross and gathered a party to prove what he had accomplished. Climbing the peak, he once again removed his boots and climbed the sheer face. He then lowered some string and towed up a rope, pulling up two of his friends who reached the top and recovered Nefdt’s sock. He never climbed that route again but it became a challenge to other climber’s. Famous mountaineer GF Travers-Jackson made the third ascent in 1906 on a different route. In 1929 Frank Berrisford climbed what he thought was Nefdt’s route, but it proved to be yet another one. Two years later Bert Berrisford also tried, but it took 64 years for Nefdt’s original route to be led again.

After Ladismith the Swartberg starts to peter out & I headed up towards Anysberg.

This area is quite off the beaten track.

Anysberg is really low key – this is the entrance I used.

Nice quite area with this small track leading through it. This is the treed bit close to the stream.

Some photos of the lovely veld. Because sheep and goats are excluded the Karoo veld has been able to recover.

I am travelling west with the last bits of the Swartberg on my right.

Another view. I only learned of Anysberg through Wild Dogs. I love these secluded unspoiled places. I am so pleased I took up adventure bike riding and found Wild Dogs which has introduced me to places such as this – no one I know otherwise has even heard of it. I have yet to visit the Karoo National Park, it is on my list of places to go.

Near the end of Anysberg.

Saw a few Gemsbok. To me they are the most handsome of them all.

Lots of shades of blue mountains, actually the Hex River mountains.

Good track to ride.

Strangely you come out into a farm & when you exit that farm onto the public road there is this gate with ‘No Entry’ on it –Droogedam of Mr Heyns.

Tracks4Africa had shown me a route down the Hex River mountains. I know of the old rail line from the days before the tunnel (just on the Wiki list of longest tunnels) with a track alongside it which is not open to bikes but this is something else.

When I got to the farm entrance, Vredelust, there was a notice saying private property but I went to the farmhouse to ask permission to ride the route T4A was guiding me along. Mr Hugo was away at the cherry orchards but a worker said the track was the old route to De Doorns and there are no locked gates on it. I decided to give it a go.

This is at the top of the escarpment – not much of a track at all.

You can see there is still a bit of a track.

A bit further on I slipped into this sloot.

This is actually the start as the track winds its way down the escarpment – as always the photo hardly shows the gradient. I decided it would be foolhardy to try & get down here by myself on the loaded TW. I went back to the farmhouse and spoke to Mr Hugo (who was now back from the cherry orchard) and asked for forgiveness for trespassing. I explained about Tracks4Africa leading me across his farm.

Rode home on the N1.


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