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Author Topic: Mission: Finding the origin of the orange river  (Read 2769 times)

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Offline Xpat

Re: Mission: Finding the origin of the orange river
« Reply #60 on: April 09, 2019, 09:00:17 pm »
Day 3 - Katse to Polihali


The plan for the day was to make it from Katse to Mokhotlong over the mountains on a potential track I have scouted on one of my earlier trips. Here is the route for the day:




We filled up in a shop up in Katse village and set-off. first part of the route was to follow Malibiamatso river that flows out of the Katse dam for 25 or so km to the bridge that is about half way through to Thaba Tseka. I have done this track few times before, and it was first time for Losper, which was kind of ironic as he was the one who clued me up about this route about year ago in the first place. The ride by the river is really scenic and different from what we have done so far, as the river follows lush green valley with willows and stuff, and even has a section running through a bit of forest.

I have to admit that I wasn't looking forward to it as on my prior rides the grass was very tall and with plenty of big boulders lurking around in the grass, which made it very frustrating as whenever I opened up pretty soon I run into one of those and reverted straight away into 1st gear. Luckily this time the grass was very short, which made for much more pleasant experience. Losper, who prefers these river rides to the rock bashing on top of the mountains, loved it.


















We had to cross the river few times whenever the going got too gnarly on the side we were in, which made for a bit of excitement as there was always a chance to get stuck in soft mud even though the river was low. But we managed all the crossings without undue drama:



















We took a break under one of the willows. Willows tend to get hollowed out, but for some reason locals seemed to burn the hollows bigger with fire - not sure what the purpose was:







This made Pieter sad and he shed a blood tear or two:






Offline Highsider

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Re: Mission: Finding the origin of the orange river
« Reply #61 on: April 10, 2019, 04:50:23 am »
Thanks for sharing this epic exploratory adventure with us, you guys are legends.


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Offline Xpat

Re: Mission: Finding the origin of the orange river
« Reply #62 on: April 10, 2019, 08:09:18 pm »
Once wa made it to the bridge after 25 km of river valley, we turned east and climbed up the steep switchbacks to a village sitting on top or escarpment. From there we followed gnarly 'road' I have used few times before in opposite direction coming from Thaba Tseka. I remembered it was quite rocky in places, but going up it felt much rockier and I felt a bit sheepish and I told Losper before that he can take big bikes there no problem. Well, he did later on and they managed to get up the rocks so no harm done.

The road climbs all the way to the top of the ranbe between Malibamatso and Orange rivers and once near top we jumped over to the Orange valley and rode down to a village overlooking Orange river few km further on east.
















I've been to this village once before but failed to find a route down steep downhill to the river. So when we made it there now I looked quizicaly on Losper, checking what he thinks. He was sceptical - the descent was too steep, especially as we didn't know if we will make it across the Orange river, which seemed from high up there to flow strongly, let alone whether we will be able to climb the ridge on the other side.

I took Losper to one possible option behind the village, but it wasn't workable at all. THroughout all this we were accompanied by more or less everybody in the village, shouting contradicting directions for us to follow. I think - apart from me about month ago - we were the first bikes ever visit the village, and we could sense it from all the excitement around us, that made it difficult to focus on the task at hand.

They have eventually pointed us to a section that was doable down, but I was hesitant as I didn't believe I would be able to make it back up should we get stuck further on. Losper promised to get my bike up there ifit comes to that so hesitantly I descended down following him on very loose dirt. Once we made it past the first 50 meters or so the riding became much easier, though we were still distracted by all the kids running around and shouting at us.

Eventually we made it down to the river and to our relief it was very low and very fordable. I gave one of the girls who was really helpfull some money for showing us the way and we gunned it across to the other side and continued from there following the river upstream. Kids tried to keep up, but with the more open terrain they didn't have chance anymore.




We had to cross the river few times as the flat banks alternated between the both river sides, but it kept low so it was no biggie:








































Losper seemed to enjoy the river riding much more that scaling the topf of the ranges, and we agreed that project to follow the Orange river at least from Thaba Tseka up as close as possible to its source is on cards. I have managed to get back to Lesotho again after this trip and find two (possibly three) more shortcuts between Katse and Mokhotlong that also provide approaches to Orange, that should help us get to/from the river should we need to get there/away if we get stuck for some reason. I'm guessing this project is top on the list of Losper's priorities and hopefully the circumstances will come together so that we may join forces again to make it happen sometimes this year, inshallah.


After few km we came to the last crossing - i.e. the point where we were to try climp up the valley side on the other side. Uncharacteristically, Losper was skeptical about our chances as the valley seemed too steep, while I felt confident as I have spent a lot of time staring at the satellite images at home and believed there was workable ledge we could use. And I was right, for once.


Here is the view on the initial mellow climb across the river from us:




And Losper getting across Orange, for the last time this day:







At the other side Losper still wasn't buying it so I took a lead and pushed up first section of the climb. That one was easy, but soon enough we came to much steeper section that Losper proceeded to scout out. There was an easy route around this hill so all was good and we pushed on:










There were few more sections that exercised us a bit, but nothing too crazy and we made it to the top of the ridge on old misused road exactly as I expected. On the other side we descended downslope until we hit A3 running between Thaba Tseka and Mokhotlong.







We were elated as we just plotted new shortcut from Katse, and one that I'm pretty sure no bike done before judging from the locals reactions. We have stopped in the shade next to A3 for short break and after that pushed on A3 towards Mokhotlong:




We hoped to score petrol in Likananeg about half way to Mokhotlong, but the chinese shop was dry and so we had to ride all the way to Mokhotlong to fill up and then back track a bit to our overnight sleep over at Polihali lodge, which is a place owned by a WD. We were the only guests and enjoyed the tranquility of the remote village very condusive for a good night sleep.

Offline Highsider

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Re: Mission: Finding the origin of the orange river
« Reply #63 on: April 11, 2019, 09:00:59 am »
I wonder which months of the year the river will be fordable, and which not?  Was the river fairly low or high when you and Losper did this Katse to Mohotlong route?


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Offline Xpat

Re: Mission: Finding the origin of the orange river
« Reply #64 on: April 11, 2019, 09:14:48 am »
I wonder which months of the year the river will be fordable, and which not?  Was the river fairly low or high when you and Losper did this Katse to Mohotlong route?


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It was low as you can notice on pictures when we were there in the first half of january. I was back at orange further north about month later and the river was high and impassable. I have route for you though that runs over pedestrian bridge and avoids most of a3
« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 09:16:08 am by Xpat »
 

Offline Highsider

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Re: Mission: Finding the origin of the orange river
« Reply #65 on: April 11, 2019, 12:45:28 pm »
Sounds great please send that.


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Offline THROTTLE JOCKEY

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Re: Mission: Finding the origin of the orange river
« Reply #66 on: April 11, 2019, 02:05:06 pm »
Awesome. Well done to you both!
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Offline Xpat

Re: Mission: Finding the origin of the orange river
« Reply #67 on: April 12, 2019, 07:03:54 pm »
Day 4 - Polihali lodge to Chalets in the Sky


Last day of our ride together, we had plotted a route that took us back to Orange via different route further north from the one we took day before and from there we wanted to follow dirt roads along Khubelu river back to Chalets in the Sky where I left my car.. We weren't sure if we will be able to make it up the other side of Orange, but that was the whole point of this trip - to explore new routes and see what happens.

Well, we have made it across the Orange valley and this is the route we have done:




The riding was similar to the prior day's one - combination of remote dirt roads and offroad sections along the river. The excursion along the Orange river solidified our intent to attempt the Orange river track sometimes in the future.

On the way from the lodge I have managed to get us lost for about 20 - 30 km on adjacent dirt road. I was quite astonished that these roads are there and yet nobody in biking community seems to know about them, let alone ride them. Get yourself out of Baviaans and start exploring off the beaten track, while it's still out there! It's not going to last forever...

Descent down to Orange, this time from the east:




Down at the bottom of the valley we came upon pedestrian bridge - the only bridge I could find later on across Orange between Thaba Tseka and A1. This was good to know as it gives an option off the beaten track when Orange is flowing strong and is not fordable, as was the case about month later when I found myself there again.

Aat the bridge we had little planning session looking at the coutour map on my iPhone and discussing whether we should try a possible ascent running south of our position, or follow the river for about 10 km north where my map was showing some kind of road starting on a hill relativel close to the river.

We (Losper) decided to head north and set-off. I have checked the southern option month later and with a bit of committment it is also doable. Following the river for 10 or so km means one thing - lots of river crossing as the flat riverbanks alternate on each side of the river.










I haven't seen willows that I'm so used to see back home anywhere else in Africa yet so it was a nice to see quite a few of them along the Lesotho riverbeds:




























At one point, Losper, who was leading at that point got stuck properly in the muddy bank. I tried to be clever and tried different route made it about 200 meters further up and then got stuck even better:










So I left the bike there and walked back to help free Losper out of the mud. Once we managed that he in turn helped pull my bike out of my trench.







Further on we came upon a section of river where the flow was pretty strong over some gnarly rapids. We scouted possible route about, but there was a good chance for it to go badly wrong (not ideal in the valley many km from possible route out) as there wer big and extremely slipery boulders in the quite strong stream, so we proceeded with caution and pushed Losper and mine bike across with engines switched off.







Pieter scouting our to be route:






On the other side we had short break and then pushed on to the last Orange crossing of the day (there was still one Khubelu crossing awaiting later on). It took a little figuring out, but we made it to the other side with honour unblemished:




We could barely discern an old washed out road heading up the valley at this point. It was pretty steep and required a bit of commitment from me, but we managed to gun it up to the flatter part above and from there it was smooth sailing all the way to the Village Chief Road. Another crossing of Orange and new never riden route in the bag!







At the Village Chief road we turned north and cruised towards Mapholaneng on A1. On the way, Losper - big dam aficionado, made a detour down to a spot where they are about to start building new Polihali dam on Orange river. The descent was badly washed out and getting back to the road afterwards was a bit nervewrecking (for me anyway):







That is where the dam is going to be:




View from above over the future Dam wall spot:
















After that we pushed on the Village Chief road until we came to another shortcut, this time over Khubelu river, that Losper wanted to try. It was pretty gnarly and I was running low on energy (or rather lazy) after 4 days of rock bashing so it took a bit for me to stop being a baby and suck it up. Which I did and it turned out to be a non-event:




After that we hit the dirt road following the Khubelu river north for about 40 km where we arrived back to Challets in the Sky for final night (for Losper, I was still to explore a bit more for a day or three on my own).

Here are few images from Losper so that he doesn't feel like his work was left out:




















That is it - thanks for following. I have to say that Losper knows how to do ride report in style, like a gentleman without sweating it  :lol8: 

I hope we will ride together soon again.  :thumleft:

Offline dw1

Re: Mission: Finding the origin of the orange river
« Reply #68 on: April 12, 2019, 10:32:56 pm »
Fantastic report and awesome ride.
thanks for making the effort
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Online Losper

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Re: Mission: Finding the origin of the orange river
« Reply #69 on: April 12, 2019, 10:48:33 pm »
This was one of my best rides in a long time for the following reasons:

1. Riding with a gentleman like Xpat. He is laid back, easy going and does not get annoyed when things don't work out as planned. Thanks Martin, it was an absolute pleasure to ride with you.
2. Exploring and discovering new and never ridden paths and tracks is one of the the joys of riding motorbikes.

Here are a few more pictures. 
« Last Edit: April 12, 2019, 10:49:22 pm by Losper »
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Re: Mission: Finding the origin of the orange river
« Reply #70 on: April 12, 2019, 10:49:57 pm »
.
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Offline billy-joe

Re: Mission: Finding the origin of the orange river
« Reply #71 on: April 12, 2019, 10:59:29 pm »
what an inspirational ride report!  thanks gents, i think i'll just buy a 500 and leave it at Lospers!

thanks for the read.
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Offline MRK Miller

Re: Mission: Finding the origin of the orange river
« Reply #72 on: April 13, 2019, 03:55:43 am »
Awesome stuff. I do believe ktm will approach for use of a couple of you pictures.. Truely awesome
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Offline CUZZY

Re: Mission: Finding the origin of the orange river
« Reply #73 on: April 13, 2019, 11:09:12 am »
Bliksem!!!  What a fantastic trip and ride report. Well done gents!

Sometimes it's easy being a ballie and not feeling the pressure to go and ride this kind of shit !!!!   ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;)
 

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Re: Mission: Finding the origin of the orange river
« Reply #74 on: April 13, 2019, 12:25:58 pm »
Vaaaak gentlemen!! AwesomeRespect- :thumleft:
If i had to explain you would not understand anyway......
 

Offline OomD

Re: Mission: Finding the origin of the orange river
« Reply #75 on: April 13, 2019, 07:11:27 pm »
Hell this is awesome. Thanks for sharing guys, and well done on this awesome adventure! I am awestruck :thumleft:
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Mission: Finding the origin of the orange river
« Reply #76 on: April 13, 2019, 10:45:35 pm »
Thanks for following and comments!  :thumleft:

Offline Xpat

Re: Mission: Finding the origin of the orange river
« Reply #77 on: April 13, 2019, 10:48:02 pm »
Bliksem!!!  What a fantastic trip and ride report. Well done gents!

Sometimes it's easy being a ballie and not feeling the pressure to go and ride this kind of shit !!!!   ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;)

Thanks CUZZY, but I'm afraid this report may burst your excuse: http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=236081.0

Not sure how old you are that you claim balliehood, but Stuart on that ride is probably not too far from 70...  ;)

So no, physical age is not a valid excuse.... 8)