...and the first day of our staycation.
We woke, fed the dogs, tidied the house, grabbed some breakfast, packed in lunch, water and fruit and finally we were on our way. We would drive through an area called Natures Valley (well named), and our destination would be Storms River Mouth where we would be for the day. This is also where we spent our honey moon, so it has sentimental value for us.
It was a 2hr trip from where we live, but we were planning on stopping at other little spots along the way, making a day trip of it.
Our first stop took us up a delightful walk to a beach through a tunnel of trees.
Once out of that, we got to cleared spot (still going up) before going down to the beach.
The sides of the walkway were beautiful - lined with tiny plants and grasses.
This is a close up of those gorgeous grasses.
Next we drove through an area that is in the media under controversy at the moment.
The municipality has put up a toll gate and the local residents are furious as it costs them a fortune to get to work and back each day and this area is not highly paid to begin with.
As fast as the municipality puts up barriers, the locals remove them. Cars still cant get through, but any 4x4 or pick up can do it - so we did. We were not trying to avoid paying the toll fee, its just that the main road is sterile with no beauty what-so-ever. The municipality has not won their war and have not resealed the road, till the court case comes off and a decision is made, locals are opening and using the road.
We wanted the beauty aspect of this road.
The sign says OPEN UP!
This area was stunningly beautiful. Very green and forest ferns as far as the eye could see on either side of the road. It's also very quiet in a peaceful way, the only sounds we heard were the rustling of tree leaves in the breeze.
Not only was the forest floor beautiful, but even above us the vines hung in profusion.
It created an eerie look, especially with us knowing there were no others vehicles except our own on the road. Its not a well used road at all due to the above explanation - cars can't manage the barricade.
Close up of one of the vines, looks just like a knotted rope. Incredible.
This is also baboon world. And this troop gave us such pleasure to watch.
They were not even slightly worried about us even with the thump thump of our diesel engine. The alpha male was swinging in the trees and I tried to catch him in action, but it was tough. He pretty much kept in hiding but made a load of barking noises to keep his troop moving. This is the best shot I could get of him.
We made a stop at a little bridge to eat our lunch and do a little exploring. I'm proud to say that my lunch was broccoli salad with seeds and raisins and an apple for dessert. Hubby had a pie and a banana. But then he can eat anything he likes, hes so trim.
I wanted to get down to the water but that meant negotiating some stairs.
Scrambling up some rocks.
And then down the other side.
I finally made it to the weir. The water was pushing really hard.
Being adventurous, I stuck my toes in, to feel the water and yuck.....the water shot up between my thighs, wetting me.....such an "odd" feeling and uncomfortable being wet most of the day. LOL serves me right.
I scrambled out over the rocks and back up the stairs feeling quite chuffed with myself at all the exercise I had gotten and BLISSFULLY UNAWARE of what was still coming
There was loads of flood damage from a couple of years ago, seems the municipality no longer wants to care for this beautiful road anymore at all. Shale lies in piles on a regular basis along the road, sometimes almost blocking the road.
Along the way we spotted some lovely sights. One was this tree with what looked like mud packed all along its limbs. Strange looking, I've not seen anything like it before.
I decided to crack one open and see what was inside...maybe seeds??
Nope TERMITES. Yikes, I dropped that mud pod thing so fast and made a hasty retreat. I think I watch too many movies, but either way I didnlt want to mess with what could be thousands of termites. You want the tree...its all yours!
Other than photograph this guy, I didn't mess with him either. Check the size of the stinger on this wasp. Hoo boy....I left him doing what he does best too...pollinating.
This lonesome (or at least I hope he was alone because swarms of locusts can do a lot of damage) chap was making his way somewhere too. I'm not fond of locusts, but they have their own strange beauty I guess.
This starling was grubbing for food. They look so plain with their wings folded, but in full flight, their wing tips are almost burnt orange in color.
But of course the starling doesn't compare to this beautiful humming bird.
He is just magnificent with his shiny greens, blues and reds.
Dipping his long beak in to collect a tasty morsel.
Finally we arrived at our destination....Storms River Mouth. Usually there is plenty of parking up at the top near the kiosk, but not today. Today there were plenty of tour buses so we had to park at the furtherest parking area which meant stairs just to get to the starting point and THUS began my truly strenuous journey.
We stopped at the coffee shop for a quick cup since it was already 1.30pm and I had not even had ONE CUP all day...no...I'm not addicted, why do you ask?
This is inside the coffee shop. Very unusual wood work.
But it wasn't inside we had come for. We drank our coffee and immediately left to find the suspension bridge which is what we were there for. First we had to descent 35 STEPS just to get out the coffee shop. And so the stair issue began in earnest!!!!
Once we crossed the soft sea sand of the inlet, we made our way over
to the beginning of the trail.
They have made this walk way out of recycled plastic/rubber goods. So there is an indemnity board....I always feel a little unsure when I read those, but it was a gorgeous day so no misty conditions, also we had genuine hiking boots on...another plus. So no more hesitating...off we went.
The first beautiful sight we saw was this natural little waterfall. One I was grateful for on the way back because I could wet my head, neck and arms to cool down.
Some trees were so huge it was hard to fit them in one frame. But so stately and overpowering. Makes me realize the strength and greatness of our creator.
Another giant beauty.
We also saw some badgers sunning themselves on the rocks we passed.
The babies were small and the mothers protective.
The baby on the left seems to be having a little drink.
Once we turned, we found...you guessed it...more stairs.
After walking for what felt like forever, I found this sign.
I could just stand there and shake my head.
ANOTHER 600meters??? Nooooooooooooooo ways!
We finally got to this section and I was exhausted. I hadn't even given thought to the fact that I still had to walk all those stairs again to get back.
We got to this sign and I thought to myself...."lol so what did you think the other stairs were?"
Oooh I spoke/thought too soon. Once negotiating them, I realized that there wasn't even space to put my foot flat. You have to walk down at an angle. THEY REALLY WERE STEEP.
But it was all worth it when I got my first sighting of the suspension bridge.
It hangs across this beautiful gorge.
I finally made it down onto the bridge.
While that should have been wonderful....it was horrid. The bridge sways as people walk behind/in front of you. I was left with jelly legs and unbelievable nausea from the walk across. The man behind me suffered the same, but most seemed fine. Really horrible part, was standing praying I didn't throw up and getting a brain flash that I still had to go back across THIS AND TWO MORE bridges before the ordeal would be over.
At least when I crossed the last bridge, I made sure I was the only one on it at the time.
It helped A LITTLE. Gosh am I getting old?
I don't know if I handled it so badly because not knowing what we were in for, neither Justin or I thought to take water with us. I was so thirsty and at one point I felt pretty dizzy. And admittedly at another of those hair raising stairs I felt quite tearfully tired. But eventually I made it back to the waterfall, splashed myself wet, drank a little water and began feeling human again. Here's a little laugh factor....walking ahead of me constantly were 6 elderly German folks. LOL but to give myself some credit, they were seasoned sports people. I could tell by the shape of their bodies, beautiful calves and muscles where they needed to be AND I was ahead of anyone who stayed at the coffee shop and DIDN'T attempt the walk to the bridge.
So I pat my own back.
Seems at the end of the day I wasn't the only tired person from our adventure.
He started out bravely seated and then......
We sat around just listening to the waves crash on the rocks and the birds screech in the air.
A perfect and exhausting day all wrapped up in one.
The last thing we saw before leaving Storms River Mouth was this island of cotton wool...or thats what it looked like from that distance.
Which actually turned out to be Data birds and Terns.
The last of the suns shafts break through the clouds and land on the sea.
The sun finally going down. Such a beautiful day, even more than I bargained for.
All in all we walked 3.15 kms and walked 968 stairs. I still can't believe it, but my body assures me that it was!
The exhausted silence in our vehicle spoke volumes. We got home and all we wanted was some food, bath and bed. Which is exactly what we did, in that order.
So its Tuesday and my arms are aching from all my climbing, my calves creak and crack each time I get up to do anything. Luckily we are doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING today.
Tomorrow we go through to the little town of Mossel Bay to have lunch with our son, Cole.
A real fish meal in a fishing village. Originally we had thought of doing something in Mossel Bay....but we'll have to see what our bodies dictate.