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  • Rebecca Marshall

The Otter Trail - South Africa - part 3

Day 4 - Oakhurst Hut to Andre Hut - 13.8km

So. (Or ‘Sjoe’ as the South Africans say..haha)

Today was a big day, we had to cross the Bloukrans River Crossing at Low Tide on the route today so we woke up bright and early at 3am to make sure we got to the river which was 10km away for the 8am low tide. Head torches in place, defence stick in hand, we set off again but in two separate groups this time. The Trooper and The Bombshell left earlier than us but the rest of us stayed close together until the sun came up around 5.30am. Even though today was the longest day, it was an easy hiking day as there wasn't any major ascents or descents, so it was fairly consistent flat coastal walking.

Prior to the Bloukrans River we had to cross another river, that came up to around my chest in depth. I realised I was going to struggle carrying my pack above my head on this, so The Doctor came to my rescue again and took his across first and then came back to help me with mine carrying it together in a train like manner. Team work makes the dream work right?

We reached the Bloukrans in plenty of time around 8am at low tide as planned. This was all thanks to The Angelic One, as she had completed the Otter Trail a few years previous, so knew what to do. The river was only just above knee on me, so was nice and easy to cross treading carefully. The Doctor spotted some otter tracks in the sand and went off exploring to see if he could find any around. Some people set up their stoves here and made some coffee, others sunbathed and snacked. The ascent out of the Bloukrans was pretty interesting…you had to traverse rocks using a fixed rope and some metal staples which had been placed into the rock face. Usually, this would be no trouble at all, but having the packs on made your balance slightly different so it was an entertaining scramble up for the team.

The ace thing about getting up so early meant we reached Andre hut by midday and then had a whole afternoon to chill out at camp and just enjoy the place. The sea was so rough at this stop but it had two separate pebble beaches which had ace views again. The shower at this camp was also on the beach and open on one side, so whilst you were washing off the day you were looking out to sea! The toilet had the same type of view but from another perspective. I actually stood in the toilet unit for far too long watching birds outside at one point. The Angelic one politely knocked on the door and surprised me - snapping me out of my dazed bird watching world.

This was our last night of hut life before reaching Natures valley and the end of the trail, and it felt so special. We all sat on the beach together, reminiscing of the last few days and talking about life back home. The Doctor, The Machine and The Sassy Pilot began skimming stones, then it escalated in to throwing stones to hit specific rocks in the sea. I discovered I was appalling at the ‘throwing stones game’ as the silence was broken by everyone laughing at me.The Sassy Pilot came to my defense and showed me how to ‘throw properly’. It was like a scene from Ghost with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze. Her instruction was spot on and I began throwing better than a two year old.

Whilst we were sitting watching another dream like sunset, a massive seagull swooped down near us. The Sassy Pilot and I couldn't believe the size of the thing, but we certainly thought its wing span was at least 2 meters wide. Sitting on the beach that evening, everyone looked so beautiful and glowing in the golden hour light. You could see the joy and inner peace across peoples faces, a total sense of relaxed joy.

Whilst others were showering and sorting their bags out, I went on another walk with The Sassy Pilot and we sat and chatted for a while telling each other our life stories. It was really cool getting to know one another's background and walk of life. The sea was so strong and rough when the waves crashed down it was making this crazy loud rumbling noise from all the pebbles moving underneath the water. We had never heard anything quite like it and found it mesmerising.

As this was our last night, we thought it seemed appropriate to pull our mattresses onto the balcony again as it was such a clear night. This night, the stars were so breathtaking, I teared up just lying watching them next to The Machine, The Sassy Pilot and The Doctor. Throughout the night I drifted in and out of sleep, being woken by the crashing ocean every few hours. I would wake up and open my eyes and just be blown away again and again and the sky that I saw.

I will keep that memory forever. I’ve never experienced something quite like it.

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