About the most exciting event that occurred during the February survey was just after finishing a transect at Kouga Wilderness. I had arrived the previous day in order to camp and get to the transect start at a reasonable time – as this transect is the furthest from Blue Hill – over 130km away by road, 30km of which is down the scenically spectacular Kouga Canyon. In a straight line, Kouga Wilderness is only but only 50km from Blue Hill as the sunbird flies. The campsite is under old oak trees, and I was the only person there, until the following day when I was packing up and a young man in his early twenties dropped of his kit at a small caravan.
To do the survey I had taken my bike up a 4x4 track leading into the mountains. On the way out the owners, Nico and his wife, asked me why I had not driven up in the Jimney. While my reasons were many, I replied that at the moment my tyres were a bit worn and I was having them changed the following week.
Having just said that, we all fell silent as from the hills a thumping noise grabbed our attention. We looked around to see if something nearby was falling over, and then realised the noise was echoing down the valley. Then we saw from the 4x4 track that ascends the steep hill opposite a white bakkie (pickup) rolling down the hill.
“It's not that young lad, o gids, o yinna!” cried Nico's wife
Of course it could only be – there was no one else around. I was torn between starting to run towards the tumbling vehicle, or running for my camera. After an eternal three more seconds we heaved a collective sigh of relief as we saw the young lad (Hennie) running down the zig-zag 4x4 track. The 8 month old Toyota finally came to rest against a giant Aloe ferox.
After some time spent calming Hennie down, it transpired that on the ascent he had occurred a puncture. He had changed the flat tire, and as he was fastening the last wheel nut, the hand-brake gave way and the bakkie immediately obeyed the laws of gravity. He was of course very lucky not to get caught in the way of the run-away vehicle.
Nico's comment to Hennie: “You have the honour of being the first vehicle to roll of that 4x4 track”
Lesson learned for the day – always chock your tires with a rock when stopped on a steep slope!
|A view of Kouga Wilderness and the the 4x4 track from which the bakkie rolled.|