The highs and lows of Grade 8 Trek
The Grade 8 learners embarked on their 8-day “Twin Peaks” trek on Wednesday morning, 4th September. Just with the uphill walk out of the school grounds, the blood was pumping and the young explorers soon grasped the reality of the weight of their packs. The expedition ahead seemed almost impossible.
During the first day, the Grade 8s covered 15 km in glorious Haenertsburg sun, setting up camp at the base of the Iron Crown. Weary legs welcomed the stop and the campsite quickly descended into silence and darkness as the students grasped the opportunity for an early night. The next morning, the group began the long and hard slog up to the top of the Iron Crown. The three kilometre ascent was slow going, taking almost as many hours to complete but sighs of relief echoed around the mountain top one after the other, as each student summited the peak. The view was enjoyed by all, especially after their Iron Crown trek back in March, when the students could only imagine what lay beyond the thick misty curtain ahead of them.
That night, the group slept in a pine forest just outside the Wolkberg Camp Site and despite going to bed warm and dry, the morning brought with it drizzle and mist. Much of the morning of day three was spent walking with heads down, feet shuffling forwards, unable to see the surroundings. However, as the mist lifted in waves, there were gasps of appreciation as the students could see the landscape around them. The highlight of the morning for most was taking a dip in the icy waters below a waterfall and enjoying “bum slides” into its depths.
Next up came a series of river crossings as they snaked through the Mohlapitse Valley, the Grade 8s waiting in anticipation for their friends to lose their footing and howl with laughter at squelching boots. That evening, the weather closed in again, making for a cold and miserable night’s sleep. Tents were packed down the next morning in foul conditions and so the ascent of “Devil’s Hill” began. The girls were given a 30-minute head start with the boys aiming to catch them up – no such luck! The girls powered on in the drizzle and the boys only caught their tails at a rest stop at the top of the hill.
The students reached their supposed campsite for the night after a demanding 7 kilometre hike but morale soon took a knock as the plans were changed and the students had to retrace their footsteps back for a kilometre. Whilst waiting for further direction, the group were met by the relief staff who had had to abandon the food-drop bakkie on the hill as it was stuck. The sight of Mr Redfern covered head to toe in mud definitely brought about a few giggles, even if Mr Redfern himself was not best pleased. Soon the decision was made to go back to the original spot and camp was set up by all. The staff dried out wet sleeping bags in front of a fire and many learners took to the refuge of their tents, sitting the weather out. Everyone at this point was cold, wet and miserable. But, what a difference a day makes!
The students woke up on Sunday morning to beautiful sunshine and soon the noise levels reached their usual height as the only thing feeling blue was the vast sky above. The group enjoyed a stop at Cleopatra Falls and The Horns before summiting Serala and taking in the spectacular, never ending views. They enjoyed spotting the landmarks in front of them, including the Soutspanberg Mountains, Letsitele Valley, Tzaneen Dam and of course, HOME – Stanford Lake College.
The next day, the students enjoyed some longer “bum slides”. Thankfully the weather was on their side for the rest of the expedition. Their last evening was spent at Bergplaas camp site, where the students let their hair down and sang songs around the camp fire. The final day was tough on many, enduring sweltering heat back to School but they showed good team spirit and helped one another through to the end. Well done to the Grade 8s for completing the trek with such commitment and courage.