[If you missed the previous installment Go Take a Hike: A Tale of Two Bags click here.]
Monday night was busy in our house. There was equipment laid out ready for packing, daily food packs were being put together, super-light hi-tech fabric clothing was being rolled into little “worms”. I have to hand it to Willie. He would have done NASA and the military proud with his packing and packaging ingenuity! I was personally amazed and very interested in the food packs. Food was carefully weighed out and repackaged. Snacks packs were assembled. These were then put together into daily ration packs the size of a softcover book (the type known as Trade Paperbacks). It looked way too little food for a guy doing some strenuous hiking, but I was assured that the food was all of the “add water and it swells to three times its volume” variety. And the snacks were of the “high calorie to minimum weight ratio” variety i.e. it was no haphazard selection of favourite snacks. Which would have been my way to go. The total daily calorie content was calculated to be more than that required. On other expeditions where Willie had planned what food needed to be taken, the catering was great. So I guess he won’t go hungry. Even if this time the food is mostly dehydrated and a lot less appetizing. Lets hope that the other people followed the spreadsheets he sent them!
I am not going to say too much about the Otter Trail at this stage. I’m hoping that when Willie comes back, he’ll agree to do a guest post on my blog. Although I’ve asked him before and he was reluctant to, so maybe I’ll have to make do with an “interview”.
I also have found excellent summaries of the hike online, so don’t intend to do a step-by-step reconstruction. There are several good guides online which you can look at. One of them is from the Footprint Hiking Club. Click here for their summary of the hike, and photos of the scenery and trail huts.
The conclusion of the Footprint Hiking Club is that the “Otter Trail is justifiably considered by many to be the top trail in South Africa. It is only 42.5Kms long but it is not an easy trail.” I have to say that “on paper” the Otter Trail doesn’t look that impressive when one considers the distances and walking times. However, everyone I’ve spoken to has who has done it, calls it “challenging”. There’s a reason for that. It’s a coastal hike along some very rugged terrain. There’s boulder hopping and the crossing of quite wide rivers. And when tides are unfavourable, and rivers cannot be crossed at the mouth, it means one has to climb up from coast onto the coastal plateau and go the long way around.
I found an interactive map and route elevation profile (see image below) which is really worth taking a look at. It illustrates just what the difficulty is with this hike. For the Otter Trail Map and Elevation Profile click here or just click on the image below. The elevation profile is below the map. The interactive bit is that you can zoom in and out on the map. And if you run your mouse along the route, it simultaneously shows you where you are on the profile. Fun to do from your desk . . . not so fun if you’re actually walking it!
Stay tuned for the next installment called Go Take a Hike: The Better Alternative (working title still subject to change) . . .
Posts in the Go Take a Hike series (about hiking the Otter Trail) are: