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Offline tok-tokkie

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Sak River
« on: October 15, 2009, 07:00:27 pm »
Day 1  Calitzdorp 090923 Wednesday    430km  8h 25m

I read a book; The Forgotten Frontier by Nigel Penn.  It was about the contest for land between the trekboere and the San (Bushmen) and also the Khoikhoi (Hottentots).  The conflict with the Xhosa is well known and documented but this conflict is much less well known.  The final refuge of the San was beyond the Sak river.  I am interested in the Karoo and decided to ride across it from south to north following the Sak as closely as possible.  This is the report on that trip.  However I was already booked on an excursion to Prince Albert for the long weekend so I did that first and then went on to the start of the Sak river behind Beaufort West.

Book overview

Traditionally, the Eastern Cape frontier of South Africa has been regarded as the preeminent contact zone between colonists and the Khoi (“Hottentots”) and San (“Bushmen”). But there was an earlier frontier in which the conflict between Dutch colonists and these indigenous herders and hunters was in many ways more decisive in its outcome, more brutal and violent in its manner, and just as significant in its effects on later South African history. This was the frontier north of Cape Town, where Dutch settlers began advancing into the interior. By the end of the eighteenth century, the frontier had reached the Orange (Gariep) River. The indigenous Khoisan people, after initial resistance, had been defeated and absorbed as an underclass into the colonial world or else expelled beyond it, to regions where new creole communities emerged. Nigel Penn is a master storyteller who brings a novelist’s sensitivity to plot and character and a command of the archival record to bear in recovering this epic and forgotten story. Filled with extraordinary personalities and memorable episodes, and set in the often harsh landscape of the Western and Northern Cape, The Forgotten Frontier will appeal both to the general reader and to the student of history.

*Source*


Setting off.

I did quite a bit to the bike. 

Single seat so that top box could be mounted low & forwards.  I tried all sorts of things, initially a hinged seat with 2 valve springs under it which took out the ‘noise’ of corrugations brilliantly but I did not like the disconnection from the bike (when leaning into a corner the seat was not attached to the bike properly & I did not like that).  I had a Freedom Air inflated cushion (similar to AirHawk but better in my opinion) sent from the US which I tried.  I made a plastic seat base like the old steel tractor seats & it was comfortable – especially with the Freedom Air but I ended up buying the foam from a Suzuki cruiser style delivery bike and making it wider and flatter.  Attached to front is an aluminium bayonet with the yellow Otter box you see.  In the Otter box is my camera so I can take photos conveniently & without taking my gloves off.  That box is dust & water proof.

Toolbox in front of engine for wheel spanners, tyre levers, foot tyre pump & a spare tube. 

Engine bash plate behind it.

16 litre Clarke fuel tank.  I chose the natural colour so I can see the fuel level.

Side toolbox on the left where the silencer is on the right.  It has my electric compressor & another spare tube.

Chain guide with homemade Loobman style chain oiler.

Martin Praetzold built me a special rear shock from the original and the one from my Dakar.  It uses the original progressive spring and housing but with the Dakar rod and internals customised by Martin.  The external tank was modified so I now have compression and rebound adjustment (& decent valve shim damping instead of fixed holes) and also remote preload adjustment.

Front forks have custom made cartridge emulators by Martin.  I had wanted to fit my Dakar forks but decided against it when i realised I would have less steering trail (wheel further forward) which reduces the steering stability.  I have fallen off this bike badly & don’t want to reduce the trail at all.  Anybody got forks from Yamaha YX 125 or YZ259?  I had a pair from a YZ85 but the axle holes were 12mm & the TW needs 15mm & the bosses were too small to safely enlarge in my judgement.  The forks were a terrific improvement.

New mudguard at back so I could fit the top box on.  The case is the same one i use on the Dakar.  It is a dust & waterproof Storm case.

Throttle rocker.  I blessed that simple little thing.

Zumo mount.  I needed the music on some of the days.

Sodium coloured glasses as you see in the photo.  They don’t make things dark but they cut the glare.  I much prefer them to the grey shaded ones i have because these let you see the road surface better than plain glasses.

Extension to the headlight cowl – to put the Zumo in a bit of shade.

Raised handlebars.

I also bought an oil cooler but did not have time to make the changes to fit it.

I have the Dakar still but this bike suits me better as it matches my riding abilities much better.  I like the Dakar but I have real affection for the TW.






In the Franschhoek Pass.  I have ridden past this several times but got off to take a look this time.

I called in on Ektoknbike for a short chat on my way past his farm as I took the gravel road to Robertson.  Then on to Montague.



Ouberg Pass between Montague & Ladismith.



Further down the road.  I took a picture just here of my Dakar on my trip to the 2007 WD Bash in Hogg’s Back.  I think I am going to extend the side stand.



Ladismith, Lutheran Mission church.


Went to Zoar and Amalienstein.  This is the Lutheran Mission church in Amalienstein – with two bell towers.


Spent the night in Calitzdorp.  I like Calitzdorp as it has not been over restored.  I really dislike Franschhoek where all the buildings just scream money.

'----------------------------------------------------

EDIT November 2018  All the pictures had been uploaded to Flikr.  I have had to upload them to Imgur & change all the links.  Yahoo owns Fickr.  They have just changed the rules.  You are given 1TB of space & I used about 1% of that.  I had 2256 pictures uploaded but all were about 800x600 pixels ready for inclusion in threads like this.  Now Flickr is bringing in a new rule - a maximum of 1000 images.  So I have had to move these images away from Flickr.  Been quite a job.  And there is a problem at Imgur - if an image is not viewed in 3 months it gets dumped. Currently this thread averages about 2,5 hits per day.  Hence why I wanted to preserve it.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2018, 02:42:54 pm by tok-tokkie »
 

Offline Trailrider

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Re: Sak River
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2009, 07:18:16 pm »
Finally! This is going to be good. I REALLY REALLY like that TW. Small bikes and small bike trips have a honesty about them that I cant explain and not everybody gets. But it has a huge appeal to me.

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Offline eikeboom

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Re: Sak River
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2009, 07:25:20 pm »
You really have a love for detail and history! ;D
Following this closely
 :thumleft:
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Offline Trokkie

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Re: Sak River
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2009, 07:26:57 pm »
I love the Karoo!!
Go big or go home
 

Offline Hondsekierie

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Re: Sak River
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2009, 07:38:28 pm »
Finally! This is going to be good. I REALLY REALLY like that TW. Small bikes and small bike trips have a honesty about them that I cant explain and not everybody gets. But it has a huge appeal to me.

Subscribed!!!

Agree :thumleft:
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more"
 

Offline tok-tokkie

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Re: Sak River
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2009, 08:40:56 pm »
Days 2,3 & 4   Calitzdorp to Prince Albert    090924  Thursday to 090926  Saturday  98km  3h 30min


Notice the lichen & red colour.  This is on the gravel road from Carlitzdorp to the Swartberg Pass via Kruisrivier.  But looking it up on Mapsource as I write this I see there is another exceedingly interesting road that starts directly from Calitzdorp also going via Kruisrivier.  I went up the R62 for a bit before turning off. 

This is called Red Stone Hills


A bit past the Red Hills.  I have seen a colour slide presentation of  Gamkaskloof (‘Die Hel’ but I don’t like that name as it is insulting to the previous occupants) before the road was built and this is very similar to that.  Gamkaskloof was intensely farmed using animal drawn ploughs (and manual ploughs also) so the fields were small with the sides of the mountains very close.  Now it is just a thorn tree wasteland – nothing like it used to be unless you get to the last farm in the valley.


I adore scenes like this.  A simple humble Cape building in a Cape setting.


A bit grander.  A very simple gable over the door and a nice green corrugated iron roof in place of the original thatch roof.


Closer to the Swartberg.


Swartberg pass going up the south side.


Swartberg pass along the top.


Swartberg pass snaking down the northern side.  I prefer the northern side.




The Swartberg pass is sedimentary rock.  Here, what were originally horizontal layers have been so folded by continental plate movements (plate tectonics ) that they are now vertical.  Much folding to the left background.

I had to be in Prince Albert by 2 o’clock to join the Vernacular Architecture Society of South Africa (Volksboukundige Vereeniging van Suid-Afrika ) who had organised a four day excursion in the area.  What follows are just some pictures from that excursion.  My wife is a member and we went by car with another couple.

I have made a separate post about the * geology of the Karoo * .  Later in the day I was shown this:




The grey is the rock flour made by the glacier as it slid down the mountain (labelled fine rock flour in the diagram) and included are the stones and pebbles – all those white specs are not lichen; they are the ‘boulders dropped from melting iceberg’ in the diagram.  Known as Dwyka rocks.


There are 18 gabled houses in Prince Albert built between 1840 & 1860.  It appears that one man, Carl Lotz,  built most of them as they all have a distinctive feature; the horizontal moulding across the middle above the window.  This style is known as the Prince Albert style as is unique to the town.  All the gables are different but 8 of them have that feature.  This is 88 Kerkstraat. 1857


Number 1 Kerkstraat.  1856.  Tall slim Prince Albert gable.


This is Welgeleegen (previously Baviaanskloof) outside Prince Albert.  It was built in 1837 (before the gabled houses in town) by G. S. Gouws.  It is still in the Gouws family but the property has been subdivided over the years to distribute it amongst the children and now it is too small to generate a good income.  Especially as much of the soil on the arable land was washed away in floods these last few years.


Mr Gouws, the present owner.  Very friendly person.


This is particularly interesting – a hedge of pomegranates.  There was no bathroom or lavatory in this house until recently; women went through that hedge to do their ablutions and the men walked down towards the river (behind me where I was taking this photograph).  Some years ago (late 1980s or early 1990s) the present owner added on a bathroom & was forced to demolish it by the National Monuments Council (or South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA)) as they had not approved the plans.  Very recently they have built a bathroom inside the house.  Mr Gouws told us his children got quite a shock when they went to boarding school and had to wash themselves in hot water – they were quite used to cold water all their lives up until then – Prince Albert is COLD in winter.  Tough girls.


Zeekoegat near Meiringspoort.  That is a private church on the left built by Frederick Oosthuizen at his own expense for the 100 church members in the district.  I am a fan of corrugated iron buildings so photographed the church hall next door.  Beautiful in its simplicity, built in 1929.


Tierberg, now unoccupied.  One of the features of this trip through the Karoo is the large number of buildings that have been abandoned.  This is unoccupied but still cared for but many have been abandoned completely.


This is the road to the Gamkapoort dam from the Prince Albert side.  There is a proper ride report about it *here*.   Originally it linked up with Bosluiskloof (what a great name) but the road was flooded by the dam.


Same road looking back the way we came in.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2018, 09:40:57 am by tok-tokkie »
 

Offline edgy

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Re: Sak River
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2009, 09:09:33 pm »
Awesome!
I`m in! :thumleft:
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Re: Sak River
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2009, 09:09:59 pm »
Some beautiful photos there Tok-tokkie.
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Offline Sakkie

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Re: Sak River
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2009, 09:21:00 pm »
Absolutely Stunning !   :thumleft:  :thumleft:  :thumleft:
If it's not broken - ride it until it is!
 

Offline Big H

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Re: Sak River
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2009, 09:36:32 pm »
This is great!

Keep 'em coming!  :thumleft:
 

Offline Crossed-up

Re: Sak River
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2009, 09:46:29 pm »
Really great photos, TT and such an interesting report.  I look forward to the next episode.
 

Offline BMWPE

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Re: Sak River
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2009, 10:04:48 pm »
Absolutely Stunning !   :thumleft:  :thumleft:  :thumleft:

+1
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Offline Kykdaar

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Re: Sak River
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2009, 08:06:11 am »
A trip on a TW through the Karoo  :drif: - I am in.

Great report thus far Toktokkie and I love the look of the TW - espescially the tank. Seems that I was under the mistaken impression that no one made large tanks for the TW.

Great photo's and interesting narrative. Waiting for the rest.
 

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Re: Sak River
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2009, 10:31:38 am »
Fantasties - pragtige fotos! Baie dankie tok-tokkie!! :thumleft:
Courage without conscience is a wild beast...
 

Offline roxenz

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Re: Sak River
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2009, 03:10:47 pm »
Thanks, toktokkie!  Well written, beautiful photos, great attention to esoteric detail, which brings it all alive!  :thumleft:
 

Offline tok-tokkie

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Re: Sak River
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2009, 04:51:27 pm »
Day 5  Prince Albert to Sakrivierpoort    090927 Sunday     301 km  7hrs

The Sak river starts in the Karoo National Park in the Nuweveldberge behind Beaufort West.  I had my laptop with me and set a route taking me between the N1 and the N12 (Beaufort West to Oudtshoorn road).



It is a flat plain; here I went right on the road less travelled.

A bit later I missed my turning.  I did not have my earphones in.  My Zumo was set to \Navigation\Recalculation Mode\Off  but the software has a bug and it does recalculate the route when you miss a turn.  Next time you check it shows you the purple track making you think you are still on course.  I was led to the damned N1 – exactly where I did not want to be.  Come on Garmin we are really getting unhappy with your products.  I want that map to show me my planned route no matter where I go when I have Recalculation set to off.  The roads I had chosen were shown on Tracks4Africa – but once you are in the Great Karoo T4A is worthless as it shows absolutely nothing that is not on the ordinary Streetmaps – well certainly in all the bits i went through.


On the way to Leeu-Gamka.  This flat plain was a San stronghold; known as the Koup then (still is on the 1:250 000 maps).  The mountains of the Escarpment to the Great Karoo are the Nuweveldberge and those too were a San stronghold.

I wrote a summary of the book The Forgotten Frontier but it ran to 8 pages in Word which would make a very dry posting here so I will just put in bits from it here and there.  The trekboere were required by the VOC (Dutch East India Company) to provide the meat needed by the ships calling at the Cape for food.  I wondered how the sheep and cattle were got from the frontier to the Cape – obviously they were driven but how did it work?  In the book there is a brief account of what happened to one of the drive parties right here at Leeu-Gamka.

I need to set the storey in context so here follows a very brief history.  I am not going to discuss the reason for the San raids on the trekboere in this – there are two sides to the story but that is not what I want to do here now.


This is a map I marked up for the aborted history post.  I have left it oversize so you can read the labels put on (they should have been bigger).

1739 commando

The conflict between the KhoiSan (a compound work that covers both the Khoikhoi (Hottentots) and the San (Bushmen)) and the trekboere started with the settlement of the Tulbagh valley in 1700.  The commando system was established to deal with the Khoisan.  In 1739 a large commando was raised which shattered the Khoisan resistance from the coast of the Sandveld right through to the Koue & Warm Bokkeveld.  After that the trekboere could safely expand into the Hantam and Roggeveld but the San in the Nuweveld and Koup were too numerous and offered such great resistance to incursions by the trekboere that these areas were left largely unexploited.   The Laingsburg area is known as the Moordenaars Karoo from those times.

1774 General Commando

The San resistance resumed and became so serious and widespread (right along the length of the border from the Hantam to the Sneeuberg ) that the General Commando was raised in 1774.  Over 500 San were killed and about 250 women and children were captured (no men); one commando member was killed.  The trekboere had the advantage of guns and horses and the San were operating in their traditional small family groups of between 6 and 30 with the average being 13 whereas the commando groups (there were three) were 60 or more strong.  The San were quelled following this but it was only temporary and soon their resistance resumed.

There was a bad drought in 1786 and that combined with the increasing San attacks led to the Nieuweveld (old spelling) and Koup being abandoned by the trekboere.  After 10 years of commando activity the frontier was in retreat in most places.  There was still no decisive victory for the authorities (does this remind you of Afghanistan both for the Russians & the Americans?).

Here is the story I have been leading to.  The authorities needed the trekboere as they depended on their meat supplies.   In June 1792 at Leeu Gamka two butchers in the employ of van Reenen (who had the contract to supply meat to the VOC) were driving 12 000 sheep and 368 cattle towards Cape Town. (Interesting that no mention is made of the slaves and Khoikhoi in this party.) They were attacked by 300 San with many muskets who took 6 000 sheep and 253 cattle.  A commando was raised which tracked the stolen cattle and killed 300 and captured 15 San and recaptured  860 sheep and 30 cattle.  They then found the other part of the San party and killed 231, recovering 325 sheep and 15 cows.  The San had realised that they were vulnerable when in their traditional small parties so here they had formed a large group of 300.  They had also started using guns.  But note that the commando made no attempt to capture the males. They were seen as ‘vermin’ and killed as such.  They could not be made to work so they were of no use.  These were genocidal atrocities but, if the opposition is viewed as vermin, it was not seen as such.


The escarpment at Beaufort West which is part of the Karoo Park.  The origin of the Sak River is up there.  These are the slopes the San chose to be able to observe the animals below.  I went up the Molteno Pass.


At the top I turned onto the road to the Mountain View chalet in the park as that is where the Sak starts.


The gate to the park so I could not find the actual start of the Sak.


But let’s call this the start of the Sak.  That is a small watercourse very close to the gate.  In Mapsource with the Topo maps at a scale of 700m or less you will see this ‘stream’ marked  It is just one of several shown and is no different from the rest.


The map of my track showing the stream I photographed, the edge of the Karoo national park and the Sak river label.  The next photo was taken just where the R381 label is (notice the streams running in opposite directions) and the photos after that were taken just above the top of this map.


This is the continental divide.  It is just after the side road to the gate and is the highest point on the tar road.  Rain falling this side of the skyline runs south into the Indian Ocean.  Rain falling on the far side of the skyline runs north to flow into the Gariep (Orange) and westwards into the South Atlantic Ocean.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2018, 09:46:51 am by tok-tokkie »
 

Offline tok-tokkie

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Re: Sak River
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2009, 04:53:27 pm »

The first time the road crosses the Sak.  Looking south = upstream. The land is very flat here and that is a marshy area behind with water draining from the top of the Nuweveldberge in the background.  The Sak runs under the road here but it is just a culvert with large corrugated iron pipes under the road.  This is about 3 km from my ‘start of the river picture’


The same first culvert looking downstream.  Those are poplar trees.  Trees are very scarce in the Karoo & the farmers plant poplars alongside the reliable water as they need the wood for fencing & building and fuel.  These are probably White Poplars originating in southern Europe.  When we were in Klaarstroom two days previously we saw where ‘Working for Water’ had cut down the communities poplar grove.  No consultation had taken place & that was a resource that served the community.  Poplars are invasive and need control, but they are also a valuable resource in many instances.  To simply remove them without considering the social implications is irresponsible.  ‘Working for Water’ are being forced to replace them – but it is going to be with an indigenous tree.

Similarly with the Australian Eucalyptus.  It was a tree I had little time for as they capture all the water close to them.  Behind my house on the slope of Signal Hill the City Council planted a wide band of Eucalyptus trees 80 years ago to serve as a fire break.  Twice the hill has been ablaze in the last 10 years but it stops before the eucalyptus trees because nothing grows close to them (it is another thing once they do catch alight as has been seen in the serious fires in Australia the last few years).  In the Karoo it is noticeable how the farmers choose to plant eucalyptus around their farmstead as it is one of the few trees that can grow here and it provides valuable good poles and firewood.  I have come to appreciate what a big contribution they have made to this country.  They are also very important to the bee industry – later in this trip I saw the bees working  excitedly on the eucalyptus trees in flower in Nieuwoudtville.  The eucalyptus trees provide food for the bees at times when nothing else is available and the bee industry has become dependent on them.  If they are eliminated then the bee industry will be severely affected which will have a drastic repercussion for the fruit industry which relies on bees for pollination.



The same poplars, the culvert is at the curve of the road in the background & that is the top of the escarpment behind Beaufort West in the background – the actual start of the Sak is further to the left though rain falling on those hills will run into the Sak also.


This is just a few hundred meters further on.  It shows how much water is standing here and the size of the poplars and the fluitriete.


A little further on showing the poort that has dammed up the Sak.


Here it has escaped the poort and we are in typical Great Karoo scenery.  The Sak is to the left.


Same scene zooming in a bit to show the water in the Sak.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2018, 09:54:21 am by tok-tokkie »
 

Offline tok-tokkie

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Re: Sak River
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2009, 04:55:48 pm »

 And now it has a wide bed but no water.  This is about 20km from the start.


The first (low level) bridge on the Sak.  This is just to the left on the previous picture.


The rocks at the bridge showing the sedimentary rocks at the front right (Beaufort group) & the igneous capping (Dolerite) above with the dark colour and rounded shape clearly to be seen at the top left.    More about geology as a separate post. If you are interested there is a lot about the Dolerite in that post.


The first tributary.  The Sak flows in from the left of the picture and out on the right.  That is the first real tributary flowing in from the middle of the picture.


The first pan on the Sak, about 25 km from the start.  So now it is really starting to lose water to evaporation.  Life is hard for a river in a hot flat land.


I had to ride on towards Loxton a bit taking me away from the Sak to get to the farm Sakrivierpoort where I was to spend the night.


Here I am crossing a side stream of the Sak.  Notice the rocks.  The large thick layer of harder sedimentary rock visible both in the foreground and as a thick band in the background.


The rocks are named from where they are best seen.  These are most likely part of the Beaufort Group since they are close to Beaufort West and the Beaufort Group covers most of the Great Karoo.  Notice how similar those rivers are to the Sak.  The Sak is really the last vestige of those ancient river systems that created the Karoo.
*the Karoo Geology thread*
« Last Edit: November 26, 2018, 10:04:13 am by tok-tokkie »
 

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Re: Sak River
« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2009, 04:59:56 pm »
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Re: Sak River
« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2009, 07:31:07 pm »
Very interesting Tok-tokkie, you are a great analyst :deal: and explorer :thumleft:
Let's go into the mountains...there's likely to be peace and quiet