On the cloudy morning of Thursday 3rd October Ruben and I left for what would turn out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of our lives: Walking The Daisies (WTD).
Since 2008 WTD has existed as an annual 2-day environmental hike covering 50km from Blouberg beach and culminating in the arrival at S.A’s premier eco-friendly music festival, Rocking the Daisies (RTD) near Darling.
It started when botanist Greg Nicolson returned from a 28 day, 700km hike from Namibia to Cape Town to research and raise awareness about endangered wildflower species along the N7 road reserve. He then decided to trek back up the coast for another 50km to RTD and was joined by his friend and founder of culturetalent, Nathan Daniel Heller.
Culturetalent developed the initiative into a group experience and WTD has grown from 20 walkers in 2009 to 50 in 2010 and 100 in 2011 and 2012. Now a widely acclaimed event, it complements the festival’s goal of creating and promoting positive environmental action and awareness.
Kitted out for beach cleaning
Once registered at Eden on the Bay we collected our goodie-bags including essential sun-block, water bottle and a pair of really cool sandals. After enjoying breakfast our luggage was tagged and loaded into the Greenpop Overlander to be transported to our overnight campsite at Silwerstroomstrand resort. Before heading off, we gathered for orientation on the grass with the beach in front and the cloudy blue sky above.
With the day warming up and the breeze cooling us down, we meandered down the beach towards Melkbos, each carrying a plastic bag for the beach clean-up initiative in association with Ocean Minded, who have been actively involved in organizing community beach clean-ups around the world since 1996. The collected trash was taken away for recycling by Recycle 1st.
From there we continued on the beach until turning away towards lunch and busses to take us around Koeberg Nuclear Power Station grounds. All catering was 100% vegetarian and compostable in the interests of reducing negative impact on our health and our environment.
Sustained by raw beauty
Then it was onto the hike through nature, along an amazing stretch of secluded beach. In spite of feeling the effects of the constant loose sand and my inadequate footwear, I was sustained by the urge to keep up with my fellow walkers, the raw beauty of my surroundings and the thrill of the experience. After crossing the varying landscape we were pleased to arrive at Silwerstroomstrand for a welcome rest, food and respite. Tents had been arranged. For the more daring of us, the waves of the cold Atlantic Ocean beckoned.
After a day of intense photographing, my phone’s battery died prematurely. Luckily I had the ‘Supa Sola’ charger with me, which combines a portable solar charger, fm radio, torch, lamp, emergency light and siren. It even comes with a crank if there’s too little UV light available. Thanks to this handy gizmo I was able to recharge my device overnight at camp. I later hung the solar panel out of my backpack to catch some rays while I hiked. Much gratitude to the folks at Sustainable.co.za.
That evening we filled up with more delicious vegetarian fare before being treated to comedy by Nkosinathi Maki and a performance by the talented members of TouchWood. We then headed to our tents for a sorely-needed rest; music, laughter and the ocean in our ears.
Day 2: the final test
Up at a chilly (and stiff-legged) 6am for a plentiful breakfast, orientation and group photos. Our fantastic guides held roll call as we got each other excited for the day ahead. Now we headed along a 16 km stretch of road towards Mamre. In spite of some serious discomfort, I was distracted by positive green conversations and some interesting scenes – like a Jersey bull taking out two fences in order to reach some cows on the other side of the road.
In the picturesque town of Mamre we were welcomed enthusiastically by the crew of Working for Water, a government conservation agency, who had prepared the community garden for the planting of 100 trees with Greenpop. Somewhere behind a building is a fruit tree sapling with the words ‘Green Times’ on the support pole! We lunched at the Moravian Church Heritage Site and rested aching muscles under tree shade.
The final phase took us along farm roads through rolling fields of flowers, farmhouses, horses and cows. Traipsing through gravel and mud, jumping across streams and helping each other through barbed-wire fences, we pushed on towards the hill that was the final obstacle. This was where I lost my shoes and jumped into every pool of cool mud I could find to help ease my aches. This was no meander. The path was a steady uphill towards a summit, with breathtaking scenery below.
Finally we reached the top, greeted by the glorious site of the RTD festival site far below at Cloof Wine Estate. Elated, we descended upon the valley. With RTD wristbands on we marched together to gather in front of the main stage, where we were announced, congratulated and welcomed. We had made it!
Though our aching feet and muscles left us somewhat disabled for the festival itself, the experience, camaraderie and wonderful people we’d met had left us filled with a sense of euphoria that enhanced RTD more than ever. Every time walkers happened across each other there were the inevitable smiles, laughter and hugs born from a unique bonding experience that we all will carry with us for life.
To have been able to do this while having a positive impact on our environment was magical. Much respect and thanks to the WTD team and the sponsors that make it all possible.
To learn more and be ready for the next registration opportunity, you can join the official Facebook page here.
By Dylan Barsby
Check out full photo gallery here.