These were the words I posted out on my almost daily 'race report" to family and friends via a chat group after day 16 and what a day it was!
"One word! - Wild!
No one can explain adequately the highs and lows of a day like this unless you were in the storm with us.
Leaving Hadley at 3.15am we headed off into the darkness after a twist & turn of a night wondering what the day would bring. Some serious climbing and a descent on gnarly district road lead us on as we were headed for the Osseberg trail and then drop off into the Groot Rivier Poort for the river crossing portage section of the race.
The aim and plan was to reach the Osseberg trail by 6am and get down to the river by 9am.
We were advised that the Osseberg was not very rideable and very technical in places and the Grootrivier Poort was the worse it has ever been - overgrown and wild!
We hit mist before running into the Osseberg and visibility was down to 5m at times in the dark and made for some challenging riding. This soon dissipated just before we took the turn off to the Osseberg.
|Sunrise over the Osseberg|
|Resting in the Osseberg|
The Osseberg and Grootrivier Poort is majestic in their beauty and tranquility. But they are also merciless in their offerings to those that invade their space, and so the morning started to unfold into a very long day!
|Heading over the mountain to the left after doing the 1st river crossing....|
|In the reeds of many...|
We entered the Poort at 9am and we were out the other end at 2pm after much pushing, crawling, pulling, cursing, swearing and not to forget the blood shed, anointing the soil of sacred land while being torn to shreds fighting nature's natural ways. We were informed later, unofficially that we were the second fastest to portage this section, not including the 'race snakes.
With still having to do the final navigation out towards Cambria, and two high fence crossings, we managed to ride into our stop for the night at 5pm.
Totally exhausted, battered, bruised and slightly dehydrated, it was a hard day even though short in distance but has become the norm to what you face on the Freedom Trail. There are never easy days out here but then it also depends how one looks back at it, they can sometimes be worth it!
After arrival at Cambria at 17h00 we would not pass here as at this time of arrival the Baviaans reserve gates were closed at 2pm already and would only open at 6am again. We would also require an escort in the form of Mike Roy through the Baviaans wilderness for safety reason due to the presence of numerous buffalo in the area.....
It was a great evening chatting to Mike, a past Freedom challenger and he had a wealth of advice to offer along with his experience on the trail......