The Num-Num Trail is located in the Skurweberge between Machadodorp and Badplaas. There are a number of trails on this site and one is theoretically able to start at any point on the trail. Our usual starting point is the Pongola Express which comprises an actual train’s dining car together with a carriage. On this occasion Saturday’s hut was Candlewood with its panoramic view of the full drop of the Uitkomst falls.
Main picture: How the The Pongola Express managed to take a wrong turning and end up in the Skurweberge, I will never know
Finding the Pongola Express Camp Site is usually straight forward as it is on the main road to Badplaas – no turn offs, detours or deviations. One would have thought that Arnold Paikin’s instructions to Johann Scholtz would have been simplicity itself. What does Arnold do? He complicates it by describing a turnoff to Bloemfontein. All the Johann can remember is that there is a turnoff 17kms from the railway bridge outside Machadodorp so he drives down that dirt road and arrives confused at the Candlewood Hut!
A more intractable problem then arose: no water. Dion put on his Boy Scouts uniform and went to ascertain what the problem was. The water tank was empty. Batman McCleland came to rescue on Saturday morning when in a flash of brilliance he remembered that there was a small stream flowing past the northern side of the railway carriage. We should all have remembered that fact because that is where Clive Cameron broke his ankle.
As Günther, the designated driver, has been declared fit by the Club’s resident quack-in-training, Generalisimo McCleland he has been forced to walk the hikes, such as they are.
Arnold graciously stepped into the breach and reported for light duty. His first task was to shuttle the packs to Candlewood Hut. His second self-imposed instruction, was to have breakfast at Milly’s while we hiked.
In defiance of a ruling by the Constitutional Court that as per Quo Vadis Hiking Club’s Charter, no slack packing is allowed, we did wilfully and with premeditation disregard a valid order of the court. Being the new South Africa, the Sheriff of the Court will never serve the summons. All it will cost is a can of Coke which I won’t claim from the Club.
There was another injunction issued by the court on an urgent basis that we had to adhere to. Do not get lost AGAIN at the T-junction on the way up the kloof! Who should get lost? Mr Kurt Radzom, a venerated member of long and good standing. He was missing. Being a novice Rob Alexander was assigned the task of backtracking all the way back to the Pongola Express just in case Kurt had elected to take another nap before commencing the hike. Given his age, nothing was impossible.
Instead Kurt was found 2 kays AHEAD of the rest of us stuck on a precipitous incline through the forest section. It took another half an hour to gather the troops together again.
In fact Kurt had been on the correct path through the gully en route to the edge of the escarpment.
The final confusion arose when a herd of cattle were mis-identified as a herd of wildebeest. Well they looked like wildebeest to me!
Candlewood has a stunning view. It looks straight across to the Uitkomst Falls which was bone dry. Instead of volunteering to walk to the foot of the falls and admire the scenery, we elected to have brunch and a well earned nap after a strenuous walk.
Next it was off to the movies – a Comedy of Unforced Errors – the Ireland/South Africa clash at Newlands. The venue was the opulent Hog Pub and Grill in Machadodorp, the watering hole for the local herd of boere, a species of humans on the brink of extinction in the new South Africa. This allowed us a chance to view them in their natural habitat. Unfortunately many had already been interbred with their city cousins and had acquired certain of their genes such as playing darts and the taste for drinks apart from brandy & coke. With such exalted guests, The Hog – previously called Die Vlakvark – had laid on their most sexy females as waitresses. Mistaking our patrician tastes, they supplied a waitress to compliment our ages – somebody equally old and wrinkly with a mongrel called Miles. We did get out priorities correct and lavished all our attention on Miles.
The Boks lost so we opened some more wine. Naturally we came with extra booze just in case the Boks actually beat the Irish.
The night time temperatures was down into single figures and in the early morning, when the bladder called, I stepped outside. The mist hung in the dips and valleys.
On Sunday morning, a momentous decision was taken. Just in case sleet or snow had fallen on the trail through the Kloof during the night, we would walk along the road all the way back to the Pongola Express. At our age we can never be too cautious.
Accidents can happen if we don’t walk together
In line with our BEE commitments, Quo Vadis has agreed to lower its standards. In terms of our revised vigorous standards of assessment and induction which used to include carrying pack full of bricks, both Rob Alexander and Dion du Plessis are now entitled to full membership of the Quo Vadis Slack Packing and Moaners Club.