Boet Werrie June 24 Day 14: Prince Albert to Anysberg
This is a big day. Only about 180km, but close to 4,000m ascent. It also includes the Swartberg Pass, “Die Leer” and the Buffelspoort portage. After about 4 hours of sleep, we got riding at 2 am. The full moon was up and Leon had the novel idea that we need to switch all our lights off. It was surreal. We rode the full 14km of the Swartberg Pass with only the moon guiding us. We could see everything! The water falls, the streams, the mountains, everything. That experience will stay with me forever.
Turning off to “Die Hel”, people generally make the mistake thinking the road drops down into Gamkaskloof. Unfortunately you have to climb 2 more passes before the final drop down. We made very good time and dawn arrived just before we dropped down the new pass into the kloof. The new pass is something spectacular. The 3 boertjies have seen it before and have taken plenty photos, this time it was our Scotty’s turn.
There was a wet coldness in the air, it was bone chilling and flying down the pass didn’t help at all. When we got to Ouma Sannie se Winkel, our support station, we asked Pieter to make us a fire so that we can heat up a bit. He just brushed us off. 4 cups of steaming coffee could not heat me up. I eventually found a blanket, pulled it over my head and took a nap on an old couch. This did the trick.
Die Leer is the original route into and out of Gamkaskloof. The climb is about 1.5km long with a 600m vertical ascent. After you’ve crossed a stream at the bottom of the climb, you basically, chuck your bike on your back and hike up the side of the mountain. It takes about an hour. The views from the top are breath-taking.
The Prammetjie jeep track at the top of the mountain, could just as well be another portage. It’s very tough going. When you do eventually drop down into the Klein Swartberg River valley, it’s like riding into the different world. It’s warm fruit and grape growing country.
Rouxpos is a charming old Cape Dutch farm house, with a green lawn and a border collie in front of the house. Pretty as a picture. Aunt Ronel treated us to waffles and ice cream for dessert. Wow! I had a very pleasant stay over at Rouxpos the previous year and would have loved to stay over again, but Elitza and the kids would be waiting at the finish in 2 days’ time. So we had to get to Anysberg that night.
Leaving Rouxpos, our Scotty was in fine tourist form, shooting off into the distance without looking at any maps or narratives. He completely missed the turn-off to the Buffels River. Leon had to ride after him to fetch him. Our poor Scotty must have received a proper lecture from the Brackenfeller, because for the rest of the time he was riding at the back.
We flew thru the Kromkloof portage and eventually got into the Anysberg Nature Reserve in complete darkness. I was riding at the front when something suddenly attacked me from the right side of the dirt road. I almost fell of my bike trying to get away from the thing. It turned out to be a rabbit, to the detriment of me, and the entertainment of the others. The jokes kept us going for quite a while.
We got into Anysberg around 8:30pm. This is a self-catering support station. As the others took turns to shower, I prepared us a meal of canned sardines on biscuits, some pasta with canned meatballs and there were some chocolate bars in the raided ice-cream tubs. There were plenty steri-stumpies to get the food down. Not bad at all.