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 Post subject: River Crossings on the Otter
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 2:52 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2008 4:25 pm
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Hi

I'm hiking the otter on the 10th, does anyone have any idea what the condition of the rivers are?

Also what is the river crossing on day 3 like?

Thanx


Last edited by riaz on Wed Oct 08, 2008 3:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: River Crossings
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 3:23 pm 
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I've just read reports that a mini tornado has hit Grahamstown earlier today. Now I don't know if it would affect the Otter or not or whether similar amounts of rain have fallen in that area. PE received 75mm of rain in no time. :big_eyes:

To me it sounds like areas between Uitenhage and PE were affected and that the Otter should be fine unless the same conditions prevailed in that area.

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 Post subject: Re: River Crossings on the Otter
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 3:57 pm 
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Hey,

Im in PE and boy oh boy was the weather bad here. It rained really hard from about 7:30 this morning in my area, plus I had hail on my way to work!!! It is still very overcast and rainy. I think this weather pattern has moved from CT, so I would assume the whole garden route may have been affected.

Best thing to do would be to contact the Otter Trail Management. Im sure they will be able to give you any relevant weather information.

Hope this helps, and here's holding thumbs for some good weather!

Pat

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 Post subject: Re: River Crossings on the Otter
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 9:06 am 
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Thanks for the update, Patto! Glad you are ok down there. :D

I spoke to my dad last night. He is based on the Garden route. He says that the rain was really bad and that he had heard reports that Knysna in particular were badly hit.

I would second Patto's advice. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: River Crossings on the Otter
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 1:16 pm 
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These are the mm readings for rainfall in the last 24 hours. it unfortunately does not make good reading for the Otter trail area (Tsitsikama). :( :(

WESTERN CAPE 24-hour Rainfall
Beaufort-Wes 8
George Weather Office 10
Groote Schuur 2
Helderberg Kollege 2
Knysna 4
Ladismith 23
Mcgregor 22
Nuwerus 1
Oudtshoorn 6
Plettenbergbaai 15
Robertson 36
Simonstown 2
Stilbaai 1
Strand 2
Struisbaai 1
Tygerhoek 12
Villiersdorp 11

EASTERN CAPE 24-hour Rainfall
Alexandria - Pol 13
Bisho 7
East London Weather Office 2
Fort Beaufort 3
Grahamstown 22
Humansdorp 63
Joubertina Aws 58
Kareedouw - Pol 60
Ngqura (Coega) 17
Patensie 51
Port Alfred - Airport 27
Port Elizabeth Weather Office 43
Somerset East 8
Steynsburg - Pol 1
Swartkops Power Station 23
Tsitsikamma 70
Uitenhage 28
Willowmore 14

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 Post subject: Re: River Crossings on the Otter
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 2:25 pm 
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Good grief - that is WET. :shock:

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 Post subject: Re: River Crossings on the Otter
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 11:16 am 
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Apologies that this reply is too late to help the initial question, but I am sure it will be of help to those who are planning to to the Otter Trail:

Quote:
The rivers are passable at low tide.

You would need to plan your hike accordingly in order to reach the rivers at least an hour before the indicated low tides (available at the Otter Room).

Should you experience any problems and cannot cross the rivers, you may contact the rangers on duty who will gladly fetch you from the escape routes and transport you to the next hut.

Ranger On Duty cellphones : 0729175079 - Eastern Section from Otter Room to Lottering river
0729174474 - Western Section from Lottering river to Nature's Valley


Regards
Owen Govender
Senior Section Ranger
Tsitsikamma National Park

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 Post subject: Re: River Crossings on the Otter
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:41 am 
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Thanx for all the info,

We returned yesterday and it was great :D , didn't rain while we were on the trail and the overcast conditions were never threatening, the river crossings were pretty straight forward and Bloukranz was challenging but that was expected,

can't wait to do it again 8)


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 Post subject: Re: River Crossings on the Otter
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 10:11 am 
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Glad you had a great time, Riaz and that the weather did not spoil it for you guys. :wink: :D

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 Post subject: Re: River Crossings on the Otter
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 3:19 pm 
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We are also going to do the Otter - in Jan '09
Can't wait, did it 3 years ago and those photo's are my screensaver here at work... needless to say that I stop my work, wait 5 min for the screensaver and then take a "hike" here in my office.

Was little affraid that the storms damage the trail, but it sounds as if it is still "hike-able"


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 Post subject: Re: River Crossings on the Otter
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:56 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:04 pm
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Location: Secunda
Good day

Any help will be greatly appreciated.
We are doing the Otter from 22 Jan to 26 Jan. This is our first time and do not know what to expect with the river crossings. We already obtained the tide schedule and with Bloukrans we have to start hiking at 4 am in order to make the crossing at 9h35 am. We obtained info although some are conflicting, mentally and physically prepared but...what to expect?? That is the question. :big_eyes:

Another story we heard was that with the recent floodings, the crossings is quite difficult. Please advise on this. The weather seems fine and we can not wait for the 21st Jan when we board the plane for George....We will report back... :pray:

Regards
Frik

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 Post subject: Re: River Crossings on the Otter
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 10:52 am 
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Hi Frik

We did the Otter in early December, and two of the rivers were a bit tricky. The first was the Elandsbos on day 3 - we arrived while the tide was pretty high and crossed a little way inland. The water came up to my chin (I'm 6'3"), and the kids bags had to be carried (above the head) for them. Some of the group crossed at the mouth, where the water was shallow, but they got hit by some waves. All in all it was 6 of one and half a dozen of the other. From your dates though, it looks as though you'll get there at low tide, so it should just be a stroll across.

The crossing of the Lottering river at the end of day 3 is quite far inland, but the tide will probably be quite high when you get there, so you might get your feet wet.

The Bloukrans is obviously the big one, and there you will need survival bags to put your packs in, and a lilo or small kids inflatible boat to float your pack across (although the pack will float in it's survival bag if it's properly sealed). Some rope to anchor on either end helps to guide you across too (we had two 30m lengths of rope tied together, and it just made it). We used route B, and the water was chest deep at low tide, with waves coming in above head height. There is a short scramble on the rocks from where you climb out, and the rocks are quite sharp so you need to look after the survival bags, especially if you don't have one per pack and are re-using them. We managed to get 12 packs over in 2 (huge) survival bags - we did two packs a crossing in each bag, but both bags had holes in by the time we took the last ones across.

I'd advise that you do your best to get there before low tide - allow a little time to check conditions before crossing, but you definitely don't want to do it more than and hour away from low tide itself. It's a good idea to go out without pakcs to check where the channels are and how deep they are. The first of our group swam over about an hour and a half before low tide and we started with the packs about 45 mins before - it took about an hour and a half to get them all across - packing and sealing the packs in the bags, floating/carrying them over, unloading them trying not to tear the bags, and ferrying the packs to a spot where you could put your boots back on and carry on hiking. Luckily the people we shared the hike with were a great bunch and with all of us working together, it worked well - either group on their own would have battled.

If you're fit and can carry a little extra, I'd have a survival bag per pack, two lengths of ski-rope and possibly a lilo. We weren't the fittest group ever to tackle the trial (I'm the wrong side of 45 and over 100kgs) but if we did it again, I'd take more survival bags, so that there were enough to cross once only.

Good luck, and enjoy the hike, it's great and a wonderful experience.

Colin

p.s. Feel free to contact me if there is anything I've left unclear...


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 Post subject: Re: River Crossings on the Otter
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:21 am 
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I hiked the Otter Trail about 15 years ago, and don't remember a lot of the specifics. Apart from almost drowning, that is. I'm hoping to do it again next winter, and would appreciate any enlightenment people could offer on the following points:

1) Assuming I'm at least somewhat able to pick my day according to tide times (I'm quite flexible), what's the best time window to aim for for low tides on the Bloukrans? Since sunrise will be about 7 a.m., and sundown about 5:30, I'm thinking a crossing between 1 & 3 p.m. would be ideal. Does this sound right?

2) I don't live in South Africa, and my geography's a bit spotty. The on-line tide table I've found (SATides.co.za) has times for Knysna—that seems to be the closest spot it offers to the park. Would these times even be accurate for the Bloukrans, or am I making a horrible mishmash of my planning?

3) As a side issue, is going in winter a big mistake? Last time, I hiked in September, and it was absolutely spectacular...

—Ruth.


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 Post subject: Re: River Crossings on the Otter
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 1:16 pm 
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Location: Secunda
Hi Ruth

I only have one question for you, why do you do the hike in winter? According to me that is the worst time to hike the Otter as it is winter rainfall area. :huh:

We completed the Otter in January 2009 and did not had any rain on the hike, the rivers were quite low as well and the only crossing that did provide a bit of a struggle was Bloukrans as expected. The crossing was worked out as per tide table. We had to cross at 9h35, the problem with that was that you have to complete 10km before the crossing.

The hike started at 3h30 in order to cross on time. All went well. :clap:

Regards
Frik

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 Post subject: Re: River Crossings on the Otter
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 1:48 pm 
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We have just completed the Otter Trail.
I think it is important to give a little inf on the Bloukraans river crossing.

Since the floods a few years ago the mouth at the Bloukraans has changed dramatically. ALL the sand has been washed from the mouth, and the river bed is now smooth pebbles and rocks. The floods have scoured out the river and it is now impossible to walk across. If you wish to cross you WILL HAVE TO SWIM, with your bags, across the river. The decision you face when reaching the river is quite tough. There are many options, depending on your ability, equipment and the local conditions.
The map you will be issued with as you depart will explain, with a diagram your options.
You have 3 basic options:
Option A:
A long swim (about 60m) though the swell (or breakers depending on the daily conditions). The exit here is easier, and allows a walk out of the sea (after negotiating a few submerged boulders through the breaking waves), into a sandy channel. From there, access to the trail is staight forward.
Option B:
Here the swim is further up river. The swim is shorter and depending where you exit, the swell size is much smaller. The exit here is much more difficult, requiring you to climb out onto a near vertical rock face. Remember you will have your backpacks in waterproof bags at this stage. Once you are out, there will be rock climbing (or "bouldering") to reach the path. The shorter the swim (about 20m minimum) the more climbing you will have to do.
Option C:
Take the STEEP escape route. Some people seem to regret this, thinking that the swim would be easier!

We had 50m of rope, and waterproof bags and easy clip off carabinas. We did the Option A swim. Our 50m rope did not reach from bank to bank and we held the free end in waist deep water, having to jump over swell as they rolled in. We were only 4 persons walking the trail and swam two bags at a time across the river, swimming the rope back to collect the second set of bags. All in all it went well, only small amounts of water wetting the outside of some backpacks. Mine was bone dry.

If you are considering the long swim, I would recommend:

1) Waterproof bags for your backpacks.
A survival bag may work but we were fortunate to get purpose built bags from the UK. We had 3 lightweight bags (waterproof, roll down with a clip to secure), one heavy duty one (the roll down sort, made of heavy plastic canvass). The bags were fantastic. When used properly they worked perfectly, trapping air with the backpack, helping to float the bags across. One has to be careful with any bag one it has the backpack in it, as one of ours got small rips in it from being placed on a rock. Check your bag just prior to the swim.
2) Duct tape. (lots of it)
Seal survival bags (fold down many times, then a strip of duct tape. Repeat). Fix holes in bags prior to the swim.
3) Rope.
If you want to do it comfortably, at least 75m of rope. (Perhaps in two or three lenghts?). Preferably floating rope. Ours sank, snagging every now and then. It was easy to pull the air filled bags across, with two people swimming with the bags.
(Great rope shop near "The Spotty Dog" in Cape Town)
4) Carabinas or clips.
When exiting, you are buffeted by the waves, (with underwater rocks) and being able to quickly release bags makes a big difference. (we got away with minor scratches!)
5) Shoes you can swim in.
(And wear around camp after a long day's walk)
Slops tend to come off. The ideal would be those aqua shoes, wetsuit booties or well protected sandals (one of our party got quite badly cut though the opening in his sandals. Not great when you still have to walk). I had tight fitting crocs, which worked OK. Others ended up duct taping their shoes on.
6) Heavy duty garbage bags.
Put the backpack in the garbage bag first, duct tape it closed. Put that in the waterproof bag. "Belt and braces".
7) Ziploc Bags.
Put everything into one. "Belt and braces".
I found a "plastic" shop in Cape Town (next to the Engen Garage on Landsdowne Road near Access Park) that sold all shapes and sizes. Large ones are particularly useful. Take spares.
8 ) Plasters and antibacterial cream! (Fucidin) 8)

Hope that helps! Being prepared helped us a lot. Hopefully the sand will all come back one day and walking across the river may become possible.

Just a note on the Lottering crossing. Get into swimming gear and have a walk through the river before trying with the pack. We swam our packs over, not knowing they could have been balanced on our head and walked over.


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