Monday, July 09, 2007

Leaving Giant's Castle

It is a smoky, hazy pre-dawn. M is still asleep, but I'm up at 5am after taking a post-dinner nose dive. M warned me I'd wake up too early. I stand by my decision. This has been a renewing stop for us. Quiet days, lots of walking, pretty much no interaction with anyone except each other. I know, sounds awful, but we've been having fun. The first day, we took a short walk. The landscape here is pretty stark. M had a hard time believing my assertion that the burnt brushland that surrounds this camp was not some sort of environmental disaster.

In fact, the park's managers stage controlled burns pretty much constantly. Yesterday must have been a big one. It smoked out our last sunset. We have a great hut here with a fantastic view of the Drakensberg range, also called uKhahlamba in Zulu, which translates to "wall of spears". Peeking out the big sliding glass doors now, I'm pretty sure our last sunrise will be much the same as our sunset, as the wind which visited day before yesterday has not returned to blow away the last remnants of grass smoke. At least it's not nasally irritating, even if it is visually. Actually, that's not fully true. The hazy view is just a different kind of view.

Day before yesterday, we packed a lunch of ham, cheese, and chutney sandwiched and braved the wind (and the dust/ash-devils it whipped up) and hiked the 12 mile round trip up to Giant's Hut, right below the escarpment. We saw lots of folks trudging up with big packs replete with helmets and ice axes. Just the hike was adventure enough for me. We came home sore but happy, as we'd made it back in time to catch the store before it closed, and so had wood for a fire, bottled water to refresh us (rather than boiled), and, crucially, beer to wash away the dust and soot.

I cooked M a bunny chow, a Durban curry in a bread bowl, the classic Durban dish. She loved it. We're going to have to figure out how to get this stuff back home.

Rich Armstrong
Sent from my Blackberry

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