After leaving the part of the stream described in the previous post I drove further down the road for about a kilometre and pulled into a parking bay with a sign saying "gorge pools". Here the river makes a sudden decent into a steep sided gorge and over several rapids/waterfalls.
Click on photos to enlarge.
Here there was a very steep, but well demarcated track, that zigg zagged it's way down to the bottom of the gorge.
About half way down I zoomed the camera onto this spot. Some really good looking fish possibilities there.
Although this is not a very big river it makes a pretty impressive sight as it comes rushing through this narrow gap.
Close-up of the water in the pool below the rapid in the photo above. One of the beauties of our Berg rivers is the complete lack of any pollution, the water is completely safe to drink just as it is. Creations natural champagne ice cold and invigorating.
Looking downstream from where I took the above photo, just a short run then over another rapid.
Below the second rapid, lovely pool and a reasonably long run before the river plunges over the next rapid.
Looking upstream. This particulars spot, with some deep clear water, looks very promising.
The going is very rough along the stream with huge boulders to be clambered over and narrow gaps to be squeezed through. While I trying to get back from the next pool down, I found myself stuck on the side of of a steep sided rock with a five metre drop below me and seemingly nowhere to go. For a moment I considered the possibility of letting go, but this is not a place to be stuck with a twisted ankle or broken leg. Fortunately I managed to drag myself up to a narrow ledge and managed to work my way back.
This is the spot I was trying to get back from when I got stuck on the side of the rock. This photo does not do justice to the predicament I was in. Looking at it now it looks like there was no problem, though when I took it I wasn't yet thinking how I was going to get out. A good rule to remember is to take note of your trail behind you, ie., how you got to be where you are. A rule I did not apply here. I sat in the shade here for about 40 minutes, just relaxing, enjoying nature and thinking how lucky I was to be in such a beautiful place. The rock I'm talking about, as big as a house, actually part of the wall of the gorge, is to the left of me.
When I decided to leave I could not for the life of me see how I got there. In front of me and to the right of me the situation was much the same as to the left, only smooth vertical rock down to the river. Behind me and on the downstream side thick almost, impenetrable bush, and more huge boulders, anyway I needed to get back, not get myself into a worse situation. It's only when I had managed to climb out that I saw where I had gone wrong.
I have always liked to hike and fish on my own. This can be very dangerous so I always take extra care, but sometimes in my enthusiasm and the excitement of seeing what lies around the next bend in the river - or as in this case on the other side of a huge boulder - I forget my own rules and end up in a situation as described above. Many a hiker has disappeared in these mountains and I often wonder if my old bones might end up being bleached by the African sun. It might not be the nicest, or easiest way to die, (if there is such a thing as a nice or easy way of dying), but it sure beats ending your days attached some machine.
I'm not trying to be melodramatic here, it's just the way things are. The country is very rough and isolated but I'm not going to give up hiking and fishing in wild places.
All the Drakensberg wilderness entry points, where you pay to enter or to buy a fishing permit, have Mountain Rescue Registers that have to be filled in before you start your hike, giving full details of where you intend to go etc., and when you expect to be back. On your return you have to sign out to show that you have come back safely. I signed in giving a totally different location as to where I eventually ended up, (due to having forgotten my fly rod and deciding to go exploring). If I had not signed out, the Mountain Rescue Teams would have looked for me in the wrong place.