Day 3: Emden Farm to Malutizicht Guest Farm (20.4Km – a dirty fucking lie)
Morning broke over the verdant lawn of Emden Guest Farm. There was dew, the sound of bleating sheep and a middle-aged man stomping around in his slippers with one wet sock in his hand. The boot had thankfully been recovered the night before.
It is also my 30th Birthday.
The Lourens’ left at sparrow fart to beat the heat of the day. Dad and I had a civilized breakfast of Weetabix and papaya. The guide stated that today would be equidistant to yesterday. The guide is a house of lies.
Dad and I geared up and started off down Emden’s long drive with Chucky the Jack Russell in hot pursuit. Dad told him to go home several times. Each time was greeted by soft doggy eyes and a passive aggressive display of turning around. After ten minutes of walking in silence sans dog, Chucky apparated out of a mielie field ahead of us with his tail wagging. Dad told him again to go home using stronger language. This time it worked. They train their dogs differently in the Free State.
The guide’s route description put certain way points close to each other grammatically. Both Dad and I had the impression that these points were close and as a result kept diligent watch for them. They were not. Furthermore, the route distances were horribly wrong. We were feeling battered by the time we reached the farm gate to Malutizicht. However the day afforded us beautiful views of the Sandstone Giants the Free State had to offer. I am grateful for that. We also had walked closer to 23kms. It does not sound like much more but your feet tell you otherwise.
Malutizicht Guest Farm is a massive sandstone farmhouse on well-manicured lawns (when aren’t they?). We ambled up the driveway and turned into a bizarre large room. The room had several skylights above it and was flanked by glass sliding doors. It was connected to the main house, leading straight into the kitchen and lounge of our accommodation. In the center of the room was a massive, ugly blue carpet flanked by plastic chairs. The doors on the opposite end opened up onto more lawn and a braai which Dad wanted to inspect.
Halfway across the massive blue carpet he realized it was a tarp for the indoor swimming pool.
I do not know what impressed me more, that he made it into the middle before succumbing to the sinking feeling in his stomach or the awkward disco robot moves that followed as my father – tired and weighed down by a hiking bag – fought several laws of physics barehanded to reach the edge and safety. This is one of Durban’s most feared counsel undone by a cunning pool tarp. If this were DnD, Dad crit failed his perception check.
The Lourens greeted us in various stages of undress. I feel for them. Dad and I had a hard day but they clearly suffered. Dawid looks like he has been slapped in a Turkish bath and Jeanette just looks like she needed sleep. Fortunately they arranged for Dawid’s brother in law to carry their bags to Earthrise tomorrow allowing them a reprieve.
Despite my well wishes for their plan I must admit a part of me found it unsporting. Dad and I declined the offer to slackpack the next day. I think you get attached to your suffrage. A part of endurance events is the fact that your brain becomes a bigger ally than your physicality. You are not pushing your body, you are pushing your mind. The unwritten rule was that you finished the whole thing the way it was meant to be done. We would later regret this philosophy.
Honestly I had forgotten it was my birthday until someone unpacked the cupcake tray the organizers had put in our food hamper. It was terribly sweet and redeemed whichever simpleton took the distance measurements for the route that day. This was made even more sweet by my father who had arranged an *insert name-brand mass market chain here* Carrot Cake had been sent ahead with candles too. Their singing was not on a par with *insert name-brand mass market restaurant chain here* but it was certainly better than *insert name-brand mass market topical artist here*.
The night was bloody marvelous. We braaied and just enjoyed each other’s company. Jeanette and I wrangled salads and braai bread. Dad wrangled the fire and Dawid wrangled his camera. I cannot stress enough how lucky we have been to be hiking with people like the Lourens. They are considerate and friendly to a fault. I just hope they have a good day tomorrow to lift their spirits. A walk like this is meant to heal the soul, not put weight on it.
I went to bed and was reminded that if I were a dog, I would be dead by now.