I put this meet on the calendar knowing full well that we would spend about half the time in the water, and hoping that the weather gods would be kind and give us a nice warm sunny day. About a week before the meet I started wondering what I would do if we didn’t have a nice warm sunny day. I then started working on Plan B. ‘Don’t worry’, said Jane, ‘we’ll walk to the waterfall and then do the first day of the Tsitsikamma Trail’. Then she remembered that she promised to look after the grandchildren, so Plan B would have to be replaced by Plan C. What would that be? I found the Grootkloof Forest Walk in a guidebook – that would be Plan C. Then I was told that that route was closed, but Maretha said she really wanted to try it out again because SanParks wants to reopen the walk. Then she remembered that she had a Phd to work on and couldn’t make it. That was when I decided not to worry anymore and put the problem in the hands of the weathergods.

On Sunday the sun shone, it was about 20 degrees and I set out for Nature’s Valley still wondering what Plan B would be. In the end only Bill Uren and Clive Louw turned up. We quickly decided that this is the Mountain Club after all and that we are tough mountaineers who are not scared of a little bit of cold water so it was back to Plan A. At the old Bloukrans bridge the two brave mountaineers promptly put their wetsuits on and I was left standing there in shorts and T-shirt wondering how brave I really was.

We reached the first pool after about 200m and bravely waded in – water temperature surprisingly quite manageable, but the swimming muscles a bit out of practice. Trying to keep to the sunny side of the river, but sometimes being forced into the shadow by the undergrowth, we swam through another three or four pools. I nudged my drybag ahead of me, Clive had his backpack on his back and Bill didn’t bring anything. We reached the N2 Bloukrans bridge after an hour just as two people were preparing to bungy jump, giving us a worm’s eye view of the craziness. First a scream as the person dives off the bridge, then the bungy rope stretches and contracts and the jumper bounces back up, then down again, then up again, one more bounce and the assistant on another rope has reached him, hauls him upright and then they are winched back up. None of us thought that was a good way to spend a Sunday!

We decide to carry on to the sea, and Bill and I, having been there before, were mentally preparing ourselves for the last big swim, about 150m to the little beach at the mouth, but this time the swim didn’t materialise, only a little trickle of water over the sand. We had arrived there bang on low tide two days after dark moon, so the tide was way out and where we previously swam, could walk all the way to the mouth. The kloof here is fairly wide open and a strong SE wind was blowing hard, kicking up the sand and throwing it against our legs, so we sought as much shelter as we could behind a rock, had a little bit to eat and beat it out of there back into the kloof to get out of the cold wind.

Back at the N2 bridge there were still more people jumping, the wind didn’t reach us down below and it became quite warm and pleasant. Another four swims and we were back at the car, into dry clothes and on our way back to Nature’s Valley by about 2pm. On seeing the sea covered in white horses from the top of the Grootrivier Pass we realised that we actually had a fantastic day down in the kloof and out of the wind.

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The river mouth

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Because we were going to be wet most of the time I didn’t take my camera, but I took the picture  of the river mouth above on my cellphone. The picture below was taken the previous time I was there, and it shows the difference in river level.

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