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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

THE RETURN OF THE INTREPID (read unprepared) TRAVELLER ...

Ok, I had a whole other post planned BUT as usual LIFE happens and this is what happened to me on the weekend ... weird, freaky, awesome, nasty, amazing, cold, thrilling, scary, freaked out ...

Like all great stories, let me start at the beginning ...

As usual (I am the Queen of double-bookings, even with a Diary - please say no more ... tee hee ...), I had double booked my Saturday morning ... was planning to join Sophs to celebrate her birthday at movies AND I was scheduled to teach a class in Umhlanga Rocks ... soooo, when I figured out that I had to make a choice, I asked Greg how I should go about it (sometimes he has some pretty good ideas and other times it's like asking a wooden door because men don't think like we do - it's simpler for them ... just get on with it - with not too much emotion ...) ...

Obviously I was going to join Sophs but how was I going to let my students down without feeling a little bad???? To my surprise Greg said I wouldn't be going to either ... of course, Miss Independence rears her nasty little head at this juncture and yells "you don't tell me what I CAN and CAN'T do .... blah blah blah ..." Greg just calmly replies "you're not going to either ...". OMN (oh my nerves) by this stage I am just about to introduce my inner fire-breather when he says that he has booked for us to go up Sani Pass for the weekend .... Well, that quickly doused those little (HUGE) temper tantrum flames ... "awwww ... how sweet is he?" were my next thoughts .... quickly followed by "ooooh, I hope we see snow ..."

Ever heard of that little phrase "BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR 'COZ YOU JUST MIGHT GET IT!" ???? uh huh .... yup ... I got snowed in on the top of the mountain ... at this point you're probably laughing, heartless creatures that you are ... I can hear you ....


It would've been great IF ....

there was running water (the pipes were frozen) ie. no bathing water, no drinking water;

the toilets flushed (again, the pipes were frozen and you can imagine what the toilets looked like after a few days - revolting, putrid, I can't even re-visit the nightmare on this blog - ewwwwww .... - I am shuddering even as I type - imagine the worst and kind of double it - ewwww ...;

there was gas for heaters (16 below and we had no heaters ....) Greg, Bryce and I felt like little sausages all squashed together to try and conserve some heat ...;

I had really thought it was going to snow and had packed warmer clothes - I had no idea that it can get so cold - Bryce was supposed to have packed what I told him to - socks, warm jackets, track pants and jeans - he packed baggies ....;

It WAS GREAT because ...

This was my first time in snow and it sure snowed ... about knee deep in most places ... I was thrilled to see that as snowflakes land they are actually the shape of "snowflakes" - like the ones drawn on Aircons to depict the cold - AWESOME .... (ok, I probably still have brain freeze ... but I thought this was cool ...);


I built half a snowman with Bryce (we were too cold to continue out in the snow but we had fun ...);

I made a snow angel;

I had snowball fights with Greg and Bryce;

It was good family bonding time ...

We left Durban on Saturday morning with the intention of only spending one night at the top of Sani Pass in Lesotho. On the way up the mountain, which is 2874m above sea level (about 9400 feet), we noticed a bright glare on the mountains in the distance - we didn't for one minute think it was snow and I was completely finished when I realised it was in fact snow in the distance ... It was pretty hectic negotiating Sani Pass in the snow and several vehicles got stuck or had to turn around ...

My trusty little (V6 4l mind you) Fortuner made it up the mountain pretty easily - that may have had something to do with the driver ... Greg ... tee hee ...

It was stunning - lots of black rock sticking out of the snow ...

I was in Heaven ...

We awoke on Sunday morning to an emergency meeting in the lounge area ... we were informed that it had snowed heavily all night and we were not going to be able to leave the area - Sani Pass was a definite no go and travelling through Lesotho into the Free State (a 7 hour journey out of our way) was out of the question as there was a complete WHITE OUT. Didn't even know such a thing existed outside of the movies but we literally could not see infront of us so there was no way we could get off the mountain ... ok - no need to panic just yet ... until the Hotel Manager mentioned that we were looking at 4 days minimum and up to 10 days maximum ... no bathing for 4 - 10 days .... I don't think so ... unh uh .... not me ... not this week ...

Then he proceeded to tell us that there were two babies who may have to be airlifted out and the rest of us could try and hike down the mountain and have somebody meet us at the bottom to take us home. This would mean leaving our luggage and vehicle at the top of the Mountain until the Pass was clear when we could make a trip back and collect our goodies and vehicles ... I'm thinking at this stage that I would like another option please .....

My in-laws were with us and my mil has a heart condition ... she had been suffering a few pains on Saturday late afternoon and was battling with the altitude ... I mentioned this to the Manager as there was no way she would make it down the mountain and she only had meds for 4 days ... the Airforce was duly contacted and we were told that they would not be able to approach the Mountain until visibility cleared ... I was thinking this would be my way down the Mountain too ... just to hold my mil's hand of course .... tee hee ... I was not built to scale mountains and things ... I decided I would wait out the Helicopter rescue ...

By late Sunday afternoon we decided that if conditions had worsened overnight, Greg, Bryce and my fil would hike down the Mountain on Monday morning and my mil and I would stay at the Top until either the snow melted, it cleared enough for us to be rescued, or we died from Hepatitis A B and Z from all the germs floating around the toilets ...
Because of the gas rations we didn't have a heater on Sunday night and just about froze to death even with 4 blankets and socks and sweaters etc. Yikes it gets cold up there ....
On Monday morning we awoke to blue skies and another meeting ... we could take a chance driving down the Mountain but we would have to drive in convoy - Hell yeah, I'm packed and ready to go ...
It took us about an hour to traverse about 4km down the Pass. It was so strange because you could literally stand with one foot in the snow and the other on "dry" ground ... crazy how it only snows to a certain point and then stops completely ...
I had an awesome weekend - most have commented on the adventure ... well, adventure this, people ... I would rather bungee jump than experience anything close to those toilets ever again ...
Will post more photos soon ...
Love,
Tracy

8 comments:

Sophia said...

Too say that I am jealous, is an understatement...

Wish I as there making snow angels with you all...oh well perhaps next time round!!!

Glad to see you had a great time GF!!!

Looking forward to Thursday night..yum yum!!!

Cathy said...

Sure am glad you made it back down off the mountain... but that snow looks awesome... this is one weekend that will go down in the history books for your family.

jacqui said...

Sounds like you all had great fun! despite the toilets....... so glad you're back and that you managed to experience such a great adventure!

Beryldene said...

LOLOLOL!...eeeuwww....eeuuww..and more toes curling up eeuw, but as you said, revolting, awesome, amazing, scary - nevertheless - dont think you'll forget that weekend ..like ever!

Samantha said...

Snow!!!! You lucky girl!!!! Snow angels!!!! Lucky girl!!!!! Snowmen!!! Lucky girl!!!! Snow.... snow.... snow..... Jealous....( not over the toilets though)

Michelle Ramsay said...

Oh boy, you certainly had a wonderful experience, even if some of the things were not worth remembering!!! I have stayed at the top during November and it was cold then, can just imagine how cold it must have been with all the snow. Wonderful memories!!

Andrea said...

Oh my word...what an experience...at least when we had the snow here we had central heating...can't begin to imagine what it would have been like without :-) Certainly a weekend you will NEVER forget!
xxx
A

Diana said...

What an amazing experience except for the toilets situation. Sounds like despite everything you had a wonderful time.