Sunday, January 9, 2011

Steteyn's Kloof

Also known as "THAT Kloof".

A "kloof" is Afrikaans for a ravine, gully, valley
Steteyn's Kloof or Valley is part of the last 60km of the Freedom Trail that is raced once a year during the Freedom Challenge Race Across South Africa. When I did this race in 2008 I could not traverse the KLOOF because of flooding, so the score was Steteyn's 1, Jaco 0. In 2010 I planned to ride the freedom challenge again but on my way to Pietermaritzburg I slipped while walking down a hill and broke my ankle. Steteyn's 2, Jaco 0.

My son was studying in Cape Town and when it was time for him to drive back home, The Pretty One decided I must fly down and drive back with him. (Must be the protective Mother Instinct). I did not complain and grabbed the opportunity to go an see (in the Cape's dry, warm season) what Steteyn's can throw at me. Me and my trusted steed boarded a midninght Khulula flight to Cape Town and was picked up from the airport by Antonie (my son).

In the good old days Steteyn's used to be a VERY overgrown lush valley with nobody going there. The pioneers of the Freedom Challenge faced a HUGE battle to get through the kloof, and how they did it, I don't know. Cape Nature started with a programme to remove the invasive foreign plants, and a footpath developed into the kloof. During 2009/2010 a fire break was cut in the high regions of the kloof and this became known quickly as the Steteyn's Highway.

Armed with all of this info I embarked on Saturday 11 Dec 2010 at 05h30 on my trip to follow this "Footpath highway". Piece of cake...

The footpath started out clear and easy to follow, but very soon it became clear to me that it was not used for a while, and nature is quickly reclaiming the footpath. And believe me, there does not grow many friendly plants in that kloof. Higher up in the kloof the fire break does make it easier to carry your bike without it getting grabbed by the lush Protea bushes, but the pioneer plants that covers the ground where the Proteas used to be, are very unfriendly and claim their share of your skin and blood.

BUT, the kloof is spectacularly beautifull, and once over the top the cycling on the Cape Town side is simply divine. It took me 11h46m to get back to Paarl. But it was good that I did it. will make my life easier in June when I do it again as part of the Beit2Cape ride 2011

Pictures say a thousand words... enjoy!
Start of the hike-a-bike section at the dam

The footpath
The flowers in summer are spectacular. I hope there will be some in winter?
The plants are not friendly and everything that grows there have a way of extracting blood from you.
The scree. Important to find it, not easy to get across it...
The fire break and the brutal climb out the valley top left

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