10 Junie 2017

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
  by Mary Elizabeth Frye
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

I have always loved this poem.

The moment when, after kneeling and grieving and losing self in loss
there is a silence into which a bird sings
a flower grows
a beetle scuttles
a bird's wings flutter
and you look up from death and see life.


06 Junie 2017

The Kloof (I)

It started earlier this year when Gerhard and I went climbing at Hellfire. Making/drinking some coffee (it was only 6:00 in the morning and very cold) at the foot of the first climb, we looked over the valley and spotted this kloof next to Moolenaars Peak heading towards the Pinnacles.
Gerhard peering into the kloof (Photo: Gerhard)

I am sure many readers would have seen this kloof. It is the one leading from the river close to the trout farm and lodge in the Du Toits kloof pass, cutting through the enormous cliffs, beckoning one to explore, especially when their waterfalls gush down during the winter rains. We couldn't keep it out of our minds, and with a few discussions here and there an appropriate Saterday was found and we were comitted to go! 

The initial plan was simple. Get into the kloof and hike it out with the odd scramble, and while we are at it climb Witteberg and head home via Kromriver Dome and the hut. Easy?
Some planning
Studying all the dense contour lines and scanning the surrounding cliffs we quickly realised it was going to be an adventure. Two routes were considered as options for the Saterday recce. With some sage advise from Retief Jordaan, a few emails to Andrew Beetge, some arm-chair exploring on Google Earth, and some further satelite imagery we realized there was only one way to find out: Nike style, just do it! "Nooit geskiet is altyd mis" 

So Kari dropped us at the junction of the kloof and the Moolenaars river at about 6:00 am. We voetered amateurishly down a ravine with our headlamps into the Port Jacksons and bundu bashed our way out of it. Crossed the river. With our koplampies it was a bit tricky to navigate and we spent a lot of time bundu bashing our way through the various degrees of terain (and leftover from working for water) up to the kloof. Trying not to get wet in the river... (we'll cross that bridge a bit later with our discoveries...) The vegetation was harsh and we tried to stay on scree as much as possible.
Better view of the kloof (Photo: Riaan)

As we got higher up we moved a bit faster and we crossed the most amazing indigenous forest with Yellow woods standing all over the place. Breathtaking views looking back.
View from the office... I wish! (Foto: Gerhard)

We scrambled high and the ran into cliffs... Then scrambled down to the kloof and made a discovery: It was easier to boulder hop, especially since there was not a lot of water.
Boulder hopping: My favourite! (Gerhard)

We could now move very fast and rocketed up the kloof. Wow... we should have done it this way from the start. We boulder hopped most of the way up. Amazing! The Pinacles towaring in front of us in. Rock faces all over. 
Wow. 
With all these majestic cliffs we realized we had to get a vantage point to decide on how we were going to tackle it further. So we went up a ridge, reaching some scree and aimed for a nook (lets call it X) in the hope that we could get a good view behind and inside the kloof going up to the Moolenaars Needle.
Gerhard going up some scree (Riaan)

This spot also had to give a good view towards the "More Direct" Route in the kloof. From here we could also get some good footage and information for a next trip if we ran out of time.

So things got a little bit steeper and we were back to a bit of bundu bashing once we passed the scree slope. We took some climbing gear along: rope, with a few nuts for protection. Just enough to ensure  a scramble that started out easy and turned out a bit wilder than anticipated could be done with confidence! This would also provide a few good test runs should things get trickier further along the way.
We did about four pitches and then scrambled up a steep grassy slope till we got to a spot for assessing our situation and have lunch. The mission started at 6:00 and we were going until 12:30. I was hungry!

Gerhard at the bottom of the tower (Riaan)

Our lunch spot was great. At the bottom of a tower with great views of the kloof and The Pinacles right in front of us across the little ravine. We could look into the "More Direct" Route, and realized that this was an extreme mission, which was probably more suitable for  abseiling... or some young Supertramp!
"More Direct" Route and main kloof (Riaan)
Due to time, age and maybe some sanity we decided to rather walk back roughly the same route and see if the kloof is more accessible from the river. So we belayed down, down the protea-bush-anchor-hop pretty much the same way we went up. One of the abseils down took a bit of shortcut bashing through some foliage and found only a meter of rope left at the bottom...Phew... Then aimed for the stream to boulder hop our way back. It is a lot easier in the river than on the banks and we definitely will approach and the explore the kloof further using the boulder hopping route. 

I am still licking wounds from the bundu bashing and the rock that nicked my shin, but looking forward to exploring it from Kromriver Dome next time to see if we can combine the experience into a single ascent and complete the project!

Thank you Lord for bringing us home safe!