Monday, June 26, 2006

Day 6 - Snow

Got woken by the chiefs wife with a hot pot of tea, and some water to wash with. Left at first light for an 8km portage up Lahana pass. The going was hard, but I made good progress.

Stopped at a cairn about 3/4 of the way up and took a video. The sun was out, and the weather was good. I could see the top, and left with about 30 min to go. 20 minutes later I was in thick mist and it was snowing. I wqas becoming disoriented, so backtracked all the way down. At one point I took the wrong ridge down, but once I got below the mist line, could get back on track. The snow covers the pathways, so you just have to guess where to go - not good in the mountains, but I got out safely.

I then went up the alterantive longer route, but near the top was told by shepherds to rather go back down, as it was becoming too thick and I was likely to get lost. The snow was falling quite heavily at this stage. Back to the bottom again. I had few options left, so I decided to head to the nearest "town", about 30km away. Took me about 2hrs to get there along a "main" road. The mud on the road was like porridge, and sticky as hell - made for slow going. At one point I decided I was hungry, and stopped to eat 3 energy bars, 2 gels, and 4 small chocolates. That felt good. Nearer to town I stopped to chat to locals, and was then hit by a bakkie - went flying over my handlebars, and my saddle needs some work, but else I was OK. For his efforts the driver was nominated to take me into town.

At Mount Fletcher, I hopped off the bakkie - but this was the first time that I have felt threatened since starting the ride. 2 friendly Indian guys invited me into their shop, and gave me coffee, biscuits and a primus stove to warm myself up with. Phoned Corrinne to track David down, which she promptly did. She cried when she heard my story, but I was OK.

David arranged for a lift for me to a temporary overnight stop, where I was re-united with the rest of the gang - they also had a day in the snow, so a fun day was had by all.

I am humbled by the generosity of the people I have met along the route so far.
1. A school teacher who lent me her cell-phone to reach David. She would not take money, even thought she only had R3.90 of airtime.
2. The young shepherd biys who gave me a place to sleep.
3. Lehana village headman, who treated me like visiting royalty
4. Christoper, the shopkeeper, who made me feel at home, and fed me
5. The 2 Indian guys in the shop.
6. The family who picked me up in the cold and got me to the overnight stop safely.

My feet have got huge blisters, one of my nails is going to fall out, but I feel strong, my spirits are high, and I've had the adventure of my life - so far.

Sorry to everyone for the stress caused, but I tried to behave sensibly in all cases, and not put myself at risk.



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