Friday, September 12, 2014

Naukluft Hiking Trail 8 - Room with shower

And here we are, about to start day number five.

The path leading away from our overnight spot wound its by now familiar arid, rock-strewn way along hillsides and scenic canyons decorated with sparse clutches of spiky succulents and quiver trees.

Along the way we paused at a windmill hidden among a few dark green thorn trees. It was spinning wildly in the stiff breeze, yet the cement dam beside it was bone dry. All the man-made watering points we passed so far on the trail - mostly leftovers from the area's earlier farming days -  were waterless, meaning it had been a lean summer that had recently turned into an early winter, which was where we were now in the seasonal cycle. It's a tough, unforgiving land, this Naukluft, and I silently admired the pioneers who first settled here many decades ago.

Today's trail was another solid 17km walk but after an hour or two of scaling a steep ridge the going levelled off, especially once we landed on a jeep track meandering its way along seemingly endless stretch of flat scrubland, carrying on for what felt like an eternity. The track eventually turned into a well-maintained dirt road leading into an impressive amphitheatre surrounded on three sides by towering cliffs several hundred metres high. One of the broadest cliffs visible in the distance was the imposing but bone dry Die Valle waterfall, which we had to scale tomorrow.

The first sign that indicated that tonight's stay-over was close by was a water tower with something that looked like a makeshift shower at its base.  Wow! That would be a first. So far our bathing facilities have been limited to water from a two litre fold-up bucket, allowing for rinsing down only the most essential parts of our bodies. I was one of three lads who reached the tower first and it didn't take any convincing for us to dump our packs and before you can say "Lux beauty soap" we were splashing around under the gushing spout of water from an overhead pipe. We were soon reprimanded by the group laggards for wasting precious water but I think they were merely a little jealous having to wait for us to finish and emerge with broad smiles, soaked and refreshed.

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