Saturday, November 13, 2010

Clarens to Ermelo

Clarens to Harrissmith
After a spectacular rest day in Clarens I set off before sun up , I was not sure where I would end today because I was going through the golden gate national park and then on towards the Basotho cultural village where I could possibly camp and then through Phutatithjaba to Harrismith .
The run though Golden gate was spectacular, amazing towering sandstone walls. River. Valleys and wild life .It also felt different, like freedom, maybe it was the lack of fences that made feel that way.
As luck would have it I found my next love story although you have to use a bit of imagination to get this, I passed the Van Reenen family grave and I noticed two side by side graves. The two , Valerie Wilcox(22) an Johan De la harpe (21) must have set off on the morning of the 18 Dec 1932 , probably in love , and together they spent the day climbing and working their way up to the top of the Mont Aux sources . The weather closed in and things must have got stormy so the probably held each other for comfort and this was when tragedy stuck. On the 18 dec 1932, Valerie Wilcox and Johan De la Harpe, both died after being stuck by lighting. Quite sad that they were so young still.

After that I headed along and spent messing around watching the baboons and the Wildebeest, the Km flew by, really easy going. I saw the Basotho cultural village and decide to push on as it was still quite early and I had only done about 40 km. maybe I should just push on to Harrrismith, I would mean about 70 km for the day, yeah right!

Shortly I approached Phutatithjaba (old Qwa qwa). It was about 1 pm on Sunday and I headed into town to find a coke. Everyone had said that this was a dangerous area and that I should avoid it and be careful , so secretly clutching my pepper spray with my heart doing double time I headed into a shibeen called " Joes truck stop " . Joe staggered over and asks what I needed but before I could answer his friend said that I should get cool drinks that were cold from around the corner and the 1.25 liter was R9.00. I agreed to this and he headed off with my money. I chatted to Joe while he explained in great detail that my " Brooks" running shoes were the best pair of Nike's he had seen. My coke arrived, I then had to pay an extra r5 because I did not have an empty and then I was on my way. So all my worries and need to clutch my pepper spray were for nothing as Joe and his buddy were as friendly and helpful as all others I had met on the road so far. (No picture's would not have dared take my camera ... I should have)
I figured that I had already done about 50 km so that mean that Harrismith was about 20 km up the road. It was then that I came across the 40 km to Harrismith board. Many hours later and a while after dark, I eventually got to Fred and Petrie Enslin home in Harrissmith. Petrie runs the Platberg nursery so you can imagine what a stunning garden she has. I was shattered and did not waste much time in getting into bed and falling asleep , Later that night when the thunder and rain woke me I was glad that I had done the 90 km rather than be stuck out in my tent in this weather .
Harrismith to Verkykerskop
Early the next morning I head off towards Verkykerskop. Fred Enslin had dropped me back on the wrong side of Harrismith because that where he had got me the evening before.
About 15 km into the run I met David Tresone who pulled over when he saw me. He said that they were expecting me to stay with them only in a day or so, which was correct because I thought they lived in Memel, as it turns out they lived just a short way up the road, so instead of a sleep over they met me at the entrance to the farm and supplied Coffee, biscuits and sandwiches. Thanks Carolyn and Dave.
I eventually got to Verkykerskop after a day of spectacular views and stunning scenery. There were more snakes on this road than all the other roads so far, it was quite fascinating.

I was met in Verkykerskop at the local shop by Stephan. Stephan runs the shop and manages the hotel /B&B accommodation, and is the barman, and is the local builder’s supervisor; I suspect he also runs the post office too. And just to top things off he has the most amazing and extensive Vinyl record collection you will ever see in your life .Seems metal is his passion but all genre's are carefully played and looked after

We shared a good couple of beers and reminisced about Yeoville in the 80's and Melville in the 90's and shared some tales that are best left unwritten :-) . Verkykerskop is definitely a place worth seeing. It appears that a lot of well known Afrikaans musicians have bought property or are investing in the area around there.
Verkykerskop to Memel

Today was a herd day, rain, rain and mud and more mud but one interesting this did happen, tricks of the mind.
Stephan and I had spend some time the previous evening talking about the fact that Verkykerskop was one of the last places that the Boers had hid their women and children from the British so it smuts have been on my mind .
I past some old abandoned laborers cottages and I nearly jumped right out of my skin when I hear a group of children laughing right behind my back. I got such a fright as they were so close that I jumped and spun around ...... again no one. Just my mind 
I got to Memel and stayed in the Memel hotel with Chris and Audrey martins that had left the movie industry a few years ago in cpt and have now settled in Memel. I was exhausted and headed off for an early night but not before I had had a wonderful burger from Audrey.

Memel to Volksrust
Rain Rain, Mud, cold, more rain and just when I thought I had seen the worst of it the hail joined the party too. This was a tough 60km. I only saw two farmers the whole day but I saw some exciting things and a sad thing too.

I ran about 200m behind a jackal for about 10 minutes along the dirt road before it realized that I was there and then it took off.

Later I came over a rise in the road and saw a little black lamb in the road. it kept dashing back to the fence and looked like it was trying to get under the fence but as I got closer I saw that it was really running to its mother rand trying to nudge her tostada up but she was not moving . I had closer look and saw that she was alive but looked like she was dying. I watched for a short bit and decide I could not do much except let things take their course and I headed on my way.
I stopped the next farmer I saw and told him but he did not seem too concerned.
Later in the day with about 10km to go I noticed that I was wandering a bit while running and was feeling g very detached and it almost felt like I was falling asleep . I thought that if I just run with my eyes closed for a bit then I will be ok. luckily something inside me said hang on , this is not right so I stopped sat down , drank some electrolytes , ate some food and then felt a bit better .
I arrived in Volksrust and met Louise at the tourism bureau and she arrange a place for me to stay at the Bridle Guest farm B&B where Amanda and Fannie took good care of me although I was so cold and tired from the rain and mud that was sleeping but 6:30

Volksrust to Amersfoort
I felt terrible when I woke up but decided t goes on anyway. The first 10km way horrific and I nearly called Louise to come fetch me as I was nauseas, sore, and vomiting but not much. After a while I started to feel better so I stuck it out and eventually at about 12 pm I reached Amersfoort.

Well what a surprise waited for me. I came around the corner and the primary school was lined up along the road all cheering and clapping , with a big sign “ AMERSFOORT WELOCOMES RICHARD GOODHEAD “ I spent the next while talking in my excellent Afrikaans to the children .

I found it quite funny how the girls all asked maternal questions , “ who is taking care of your children “ “ where do you sleep at night “ while the boys asked question like “ have you got lost yet “ and “ how far have you come” . I head prefects presented me with a enegade and a envelope with a lovely card inside
I stayed with Elaine du toit and had a wonderful dinner with her and her son Michael where we all shared a great bottle of red wine. Elaine, Michael and there friend Sandra all gave me a little something to help me on the road which was really appreciated.

I left Amersfoort with a feeling of worry as the previous day had not felt good at all but as I progressed I felt fine and things were going well. The road was not as bad as I had been told and at the 30km mark I found an unexpected shop / Shibeen and I chatted to Daniel while enjoying an ice cold coke .
He told me all the ways people could try and get into his shibeen and how he had secured them . very entertaining indeed .

I reached Ermelo eventually at about 2 pm and met Lin and Charles at Lins guest house .
Lin had offered me accommodation for the night and after a few jacks I was off to Sleep .

I had a big surprise waiting for me but more of that next time

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