Thursday, 28 November 2013

Route finding adventure

I've just had a few days goodness-knows-where... in grassy mountains of the Transkei, near Lesotho. It was completely new terrain for me - passing through towns and villages that I never even knew existed. I was out there to help a friend with scouting for an event he's been working on. He needed a navigation-runner person to link some sections of the route. I'll tell you more about the event when he's ready to let the cat out of the bag.

I haven't played with 1:50,000 topographical maps for a while so it took a bit to get my eye into distance judgement and interpreting the contour lines - reading the gradients of slopes and adjusting to what hills are and aren't represented. The 20-metre contour interval is quite a height.

My companion for this outing was Wayde, an old AR friend. A most suitable adventure companion - strong on foot. On Monday we approached the first section and were instructed to find a route from where we were to a pick-up point on a road - some distance away. We were also to consider water-drop options, that could be accessible by vehicle.

We started from here - where the photo is taken from. And heading for about the point on ridge where the down-arrow is pointing - and then along the ridge.
What a most wonderful outing we had! We didn't run, but instead walked - enjoying the scenery, taking photos, encountering friendly locals and looking at route options. And what a pleasure to have a map in hand and to just go anywhere we wanted to.

Wayde at a river crossing.
A little baby dung beetle with a little baby dung ball.
Loads of horses out here. Baby season too. This foal is all legs.
Lookin'back. That purple X... that's where the landscape photo above was taken from. Our start point.
We found these really cool rocks. Table top-like and just standing there on top of a mountain surrounded by grass.
And then that was the end of a glorious Day 1.

For Day 2 we had a shorter outing - with no maps. We were essentially on part of a hiking trail. I was itching for maps because in terms of a race route Wayde and I think that there's a much better route option. The hiking trail is beautiful and sometimes a little difficult to follow - so it made for a nice little 'sans maps' adventure.

Nice start to the section - rock art.
Cattle country. Also lots of sheep and goats. 
Our find of the day! Wayde spotted this rock pool at the end of a spur, a bit off the trail. We went to investigate. to the left and right and ahead of the pool, the spur just drops away with cliffs. It's not a deep pool - maybe 15-20cm of water - but potential for a nice little splash when filled with rain water.

Mr Froggy

A good two days of play (and a day of travel either side to get there). A wonderful treat to visit a part of South Africa that I've never been to and to navigate new routes. I do get a kick out of route planning.

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