The Mountain Road Challenge


We are still waiting for it to pour down with rain. It is dry and dusty and generally unpleasant and Quentin is starting to worry about food for the cattle. There was a dramatic storm this afternoon, but it only yielded a few millimetres, not enough to break the winter drought. The best way to see how dry the farm is, is to show you the view from the top of the mountain behind our house. We went up there this weekend while our friends were visiting. There is a very steep and rocky road that climbs straight up a ridge to the top. Past visitors to Vastrap know exactly which one I mean. We have taken many white-knuckled passengers up the mountain for sundowners. It doesn’t look so bad from a distance, but believe me when I say it is steep!

The mountain road from a distance.

Quentin and his father built the road a few years ago with a bulldozer. It must have been incredibly precarious work, especially the top part which is very steep and rocky. They needed the road in order to access all the grazing that is on top of the mountain. An added benefit is that we don’t have to hike up the mountain every time we want to enjoy the view!

Engaging low-range for the ascent.

We have an open challenge to our mountain biking friends to attempt the climb. A few people have tried, but no one has ever made it. I doubt anyone has run up without stopping either, so there is a challenge to our trail running friends! This weekend we had the proud owner of 4×4 SUV visiting. He wanted to see if the Kia would make it up the mountain and we happily agreed to the challenge, knowing that his chances were pretty slim without a low-range gear.

Quentin giving some advice on the approach.

The peanut gallery.

The lookout.

I think I can, I think, I can….

Ooops, no I can’t!

Alas, he didn’t make it so we had to load all the passengers onto the bakkie instead. The reward for making it to the top is to enjoy the stunning views looking back towards the Maluti mountains. It was a beautiful clear day, a rarity at this time of year given all the dust storms. The veld is full of bright orange cactus flowers. After enjoying our snacks we made our way down, with the Kia in reverse. Anyone else up for the challenge?

On of my favourite views towards Modderpoort and the Maluti’s. 

Looking down over Vastrap with green wheat just visible in the field across the valley on the right. 

Looking west with the green shoots coming up in the distance where the veld was ravaged by fire.

Wheat fields in the foreground and fire damage far right.

On the way down.

Retreating in defeat.