Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 5 - Mahlekolenyane to Vuvu

Ongeluksnek - Early morning
It was a memorable day firstly for the extremely cold start, secondly for the fantastic jeep / singletrack riding on top of Blackfoutain and finally for chasing the light through the Vuvu valley. We left early because it is a long hard days riding and one has to get into the Vuvu valley by at least 2pm to make it out before dark.
On Black Fountain
We crossed frozen vlei's, bogs and a river @ 5:30am ! We gingerly pushed on for a while before all of us realized that we could not change gears at all because the river crossings mud and water had frozen the working parts solid. Not only that but our shoes and laces had frozen solid as did the water in our exposed waterbottle tubes !!! Fiona's jockey wheels froze solid too so she couldn't even ride in the gear she was stuck in. No warm wee was available to unstick it so Andries lit some paper and got it unstuck that way !  

On Black Fountain
Black Fountain was AWESOME - It's a spectaclular piece of track on top of a huge mountain. We came off the mountain about 4 kms too soon down a 300m cliff face. It was a scramble of note thru trees, kloofs and wattle donga's to the plain below. From there it was only Fiona's keen navigation skills that got us back onto a track and to Tinana mission. The other group that split from us at the top got there quite a bit ahead of us !

It was still a long way to go with another protage before the Vuvu valley turn off. What an awesome 4km singletrack off a mountainside down to the river ! 
Vuvu Valley
We go tto the turn off very late and decided to risk the 13km hike thru the valley up to Vuvu anyway. It's a maze of valeeys running off the main valley with numerous streams and two main rivers coming into it. Get it wrong and you sleep there ! We were tired but soldiered on and found the right paths, stayed high above the river valley floor and the stubby mielie fields. There is a goat track up on the ridge which is way easier than following the river path. We therefore made good time and climed out onto the donkey track a few kilometers on just as the sun was going down. From there it was a few short km's to the Vuvu school.  
Accommodation is the villagers own huts and one certainly see's how fortunate we all are here in the big cities. Sleep and a few serious snores was a fitting end to a very tiring day... 

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