Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Race to Rhodes - Day 4

It was an early start again. The start out of Masakala us quite easy and we were onto the Kinera Planes in no time. Navigation through was also easy and we stopped at Queens Mercy, where we bought the last three cool drinks in the shop. From there we made our way past the Maria Linden Mission and School to Mphrane hill.
The view from this hill is magnificent. It was a 360-degree view of the whole countryside. The way was marked by one of the famous Freedom Challenge bokkies. Two years ago I saw this bokkie but decided that it was too steep. This year I experienced what is possible! We clocked in at Malekonyane just before 11:00 and were out of there just after 11:30 pushing onto the interim support station at Tinana Mission. Two years ago I spent 33 hours at this support station. This year it was 33 minutes!
We lost about 30 minutes finding our way to Ongeluksnek, but got there in good time. We also managed quite well past the brickmakers to the top of Taba Chitja.
The descent down the other side was even more scary than the Mhprane earlier in the day, descending 156 meters over a distance of 880 meters followed by an ascent of 274 meters over a distance of 2.98 km. up the other side towards Black Fountain. Here we once again had an issue or two with the navigation and lost probably another half an hour. This loss was to come and haunt us later. From Black Fountain down to Tinana mountain we were suppose to keep right generally. Unfortunately we did not stick to this rule and went left at one point. Luckily we realised this very quickly and found our way back, picking up some bicycling tracks and following them. It was getting late and we had to push to get to the top of the mountain as getting down in the dark was an issue. After a while we once again realised that we were going in the wrong direction! We went further to the right but could not pick up the right track. By now it was dark and the short route down the mountain was not an option anymore. We had no alternative but to take the long route down the left side. Here luck was on our side as this was the route I took two years ago and sort of knew my way. It all worked out well, even though we had our doubts and we clocked in at the Tinana Mission interim support station at 20:30 covering 94 km with an ascent of 1,929 meters in a time of 15:18 of which at least 3 hours was due to navigational problems. Once again we found out how difficult it was finding your way in the dark.

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