My 200th hour

13th June 2014

Friday 6th June 2014

Last night turned into a late one, I’m so glad that I wasn’t doing the food run. Duncan, what a great man, put his hand up for that and showed Max the ropes whilst he was at it. The rest of us managed to haul ourselves out of bed, somewhat hungover, to help them unload the trailer on its return at about 07.00.

After several cups of tea, numerous biscuits and rusks we got to work. There’s absolutely no rest for the wicked here. Today’s task was to stain the floors in each of the bathrooms. These first had to be swept and mopped so we managed another little breather whilst they were drying. As there were four of us we did the nine tents pretty quickly, a good job done, even better as we finished it was time for eggs and bacon.

Running today was not easy, my performance was definitely hampered by the many Castle Lites the night before. It was still worth it though, a very good night indeed, just what we needed. I did exert some extra energy during the run when a black and yellow snake shot between my legs forcing me into a full 360 degree mid air turn to avoid it.

This afternoon Max and I walked the Fever Tree Forest from camp, we headed out for a couple of hours with no major agenda other than just enjoying a stroll. Really good experience for me, the responsibility was well and truly on me now as the senior back-up on the walk, I no longer had Jomi to fall back on.

The walk was very chilled, I chose to simply follow the elephant paths in the general direction of where I wanted to go. If they deviated too much it wasn’t a drama, I’d simply adjust at the next fork in the game trail. After reaching Racket-Tailed clearing we had a wee break before exploring the area further north in the forest. Here there were some really big stands of Wild Date Palm (Phoenix reclinata), the substrate was a very fine dust which made for excellent spoor. Such great fun exploring topped off with some nice sights along the way including a pair of woolly-necked storks.

As we were crossing the flood plain I was mentally adding up how many hours it had been since my last encounter. It turned out to be only ten or so. Just as I came to this conclusion we rounded some LaLa palms and the clock was set to zero once more. There were a pair of buffalo heads looking our way.

This was a tricky encounter, the wind was slightly in our favour but every now and again it did swirl which meant that they got wind of us and disappeared into the long grass and then the Large fever berry (Croton megalabotrys). We caught a glimpse of them every now and again but we couldn’t be too sure where they’d gone exactly. The issue here being that we were losing daylight and this was our only way back to camp. I gave them some space but I didn’t want them to settle too much, if they were spooked by us and moved further away that would be much safer.

We made it back to camp with no major drama, a nice way to bring up my 200th hour as a qualified back-up. Once the rifle was clean and back in the safe I toasted the milestone with a beer as we settled in around the fire for burger night.

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