Hiking in Namibia
The Fish River Canyon in Namibia is Africa's longest canyon, and second in the world only to the Grand Canyon. Besides being an important conservation area, the canyon is home to a 90km hiking trail which attracts the young, the old, the fit and the not so fit. In fact the only thing all the hikers have in common is a desire to get from Hobas in the north to Ai-Ais in the south.
We woke up early the next morning, and I discovered that somehow a great pile of sand had blown through the mosquito tent, the sleeping bag and me, and piled up on the leeward side of the tent. This was intriguing, but I was left no time to think about it as we had to set off fast to make up for the lost time of the previous afternoon, as we also had the excitement of being halfway (in days) through the hike and so we got to put on clean t-shirts and socks. At first we thought our luck of the day before had continued as there was no gravel path on this inside bend and we spent the first half of the morning struggling across oceans of sand. At one point Mum fell behind so far that she could not find our footsteps and had to yell for our attention, meaning that I had to scramble up a metre high random boulder in an attempt to locate and rescue her. Luckily we stopped for our mid-morning 'brunch' soon after this (cheese and biscuits) and once again discussed the whole issue of crossing the river.
I was definitely in favour of crossing as the walking looked much nicer on the opposite side, and we would once again have been on an inside bend. However these were not the most convincing arguments at the time, so we decided to continue along our left bank. But soon we were faced with yet another rock climb. This was a different kind of rock, with plenty of places (and bushes growing out of it) to hold onto, but with the occasional loose bit of rock to beware of. Once we got halfway across the rock, having gone up and down to get around a crack, we then discovered that we would need 'Go Gadget Legs' in order to get across the next bit to carry on walking. We were therefore forced into crossing the river.
It turned out to be the best thing we did on the whole hike, and we got such a feel for it that we came to try and do it as often as possible. Fortunately we were all carrying sandals and so could put them on and not have to worry about hurting our feet on the stones. It was therefore simply a case of balancing us and our rucksacks against the current of the river and walking carefully. After crossing the river we soon discovered, to our joy, a long gravel path going all the way along the side of the bend. We rejoiced even more when we looked at the other side of the river where it was simply sand with the occasional patch of boulders that would have taken us all day to get along. As it was we made headway and stopped for lunch on the bend under Table Mountain, looking at a suitable place to cross the river, and discovering that there were random horses in the canyon. Sarah was very tempted to adopt them so that we wouldn't have to hike, but could just sit back and ride, but we decided that this wasn't really a practical idea as they were probably wild, and we didn't even have a rope to halter them with.
Of course something had to go wrong during the day, and Dad discovered the minute we crossed the river after lunch and came to put our boots back on that he'd left his socks airing where we'd had lunch, so he had to race back across the river to fetch them. We continued on round the bend on a sand/gravel mixture, in the middle of a minor sandstorm as the wind whipped up around us. We made a decent distance before we decided to stop for the night, and found ourselves at Bushy Corner with 'only' 45km-ish left to hike. This was really quite an entrancing idea, so we actually managed something like enthusiasm for our gooey pasta and sauce tea, followed by the entertainment of me drinking hot chocolate from a saucepan. Sarah even managed to finish Harry Potter in the fading light, and then started berating me for not carrying the other 2 around with me.