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Crossing The Bloukrans Otter Trail

Knysna, Tsitsikamma, Wilderness
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Joined: Thu Nov 18, 2010 1:33 pm

Re: Crossing The Bloukrans Otter Trail

Unread post by mosakha » Tue Mar 15, 2011 10:05 pm

Hi Andre. We start on Sunday the 13th November. First time for all of us. Biggest concern is river level esp the feared Bloukrans as we have a number of not so great swimmers in the group. Low tide on day $ is around midday. Await your response

andre w
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Re: Crossing The Bloukrans Otter Trail

Unread post by andre w » Sat Mar 19, 2011 7:47 pm

Hi Mosakha,
Don't let the Bloukrantz crossing hi-jack your hike - it's a very small (though very important, yes) part of the hike and you have a GREAT opportunity to have a good crossing.
Low tide on 16 Nov 2011 will be at 12:38 - in December 2010 it took us 4hrs 40min (a comfortable pace, with several stops - we don't "run") from Oakhurst to the Bloukrantz.
I would suggest you aim to get to the Bloukrantz point where you cross at 12:20 (to evaluate the conditions, put your rucksacks in survival bags - if necessary - etc) thus leaving Oakhurst at 07:50 latest - 07:30 or bit earlier would be better still - it just gives you so much more time to enjoy the route.
In December we crossed spot-on lowtide and we didn't even have take off our backpacks - just changed our boots for our Solomon tech amphibian tekkies. We also did it in July 2010 - then we had to do the whole survival bag and swim thing - we were well prepared and had an excellent crossing too - started off in the dark at 04:00.
Your low tide will not be too high but not very low either - because the moon phase of the 16th is halfway between new and full moon.
Just to be on the safe side and to be prepared well I'd thus suggest the following:
1. Leave Oakhurst at 07:30
2. Aim to be at Bloukrantz at 12:20
3. Have a survival bag available FOR EACH HIKER'S backpack - don't put 2 backpacks in one bag - DON'T.
4. Take cable ties to "seal" the survival bags once everything is inside.
5. Take something to cut the cable ties once crossed.
6. Take 70 metre ski rope - just in case you need it - we used 69 m in July 2010. And IF you need it: One of you take the rope to the opposite side of the river and securely tie it to suitable rock, whilst another hiker anchors the rope (by gripping it tight) on the entry side of the river - you will need several lengths to make up the 70m - and NB - make sure you knot the ropes properly - you don't want to be in the middle of the crossing and a knot comes loose - use the albright knot - link:" onclick=";return false;" onclick=";return false; - memorise or print it out - could be important - in July for us, it was! You don't have to do the knotting beforehand - do it as the first hiker goes over to the opposite bank - just feed the rope etc. With one hiker already crossed and another anchoring at entry, then each other hiker - one at a time NB - goes on the rope to cross - hold onto rope with one hand and the survival bag in the other. When you enter the water with your survival bag - CARRY it until you can put it on the water - DON'T drag it - will surely puncture and you don't want that.
7. Where do you cross? - see my image at this link:" onclick=";return false;" onclick=";return false; - don't cross at the cove or fixed ropes - do it at left of cove - as you'll see on the image.
8. There you are - crossing done. AND - please keep in mind that the day is not over yet - one tends to think only of the crossing - WRONG - after the crossing it is still a couple kilos to the hut and if you don't keep that in mind, those couple kilos could floor you!!
9. When you arrive at the Bloukrantz, evaluate the conditions and if uncertain, then rather do the emergency route.

So, as said - don't let the Bloukrantz crossing hi-jack your hike - just enjoy, enjoy and enjoy!
We had such an easy Bloukrantz crossing in December - even going through the Elandsbos and Lottering rivers were more of an effort - there we could not get through without taking our backpacks off, whilst we just virtually walked through the "dreaded" Bloukrantz.
Should you need more info or help, then just PM me and will reply directly to your mail.
Hope the above will help.

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Josh of the Bushveld
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Re: Crossing The Bloukrans Otter Trail

Unread post by Josh of the Bushveld » Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:23 am

andre w, thanks for the advice.
I've been invited to do the Otter from 6 - 11 November, with the crossing on the 10th. Low tide is at 9h15, so we'll be in for an early start. The rope advice will be heeded
The 'mite formerly known as joshilewis

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Glen Reenen TR

15-18 June: Berg-en-dal

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Re: Crossing The Bloukrans Otter Trail

Unread post by Switchback » Sun Oct 23, 2011 10:04 am

I can't remember the exact times, but when we crossed Bloukrans back in April 2007, low tide was about 08:00 AM. We started hiking VERY early that morning and hiked with our LED head lights and LED lanterns and light sticks on the back of our ruck sack just so we can keep track of each other.

Crossing Bloukrans is not that big a deal if you are cautios and watch the waves. Depending on how low you get low tide, it could be very easy or as we had it, not that easy. We got low tide at the time when there wasn't a big difference between low and high tide (what is that called again?)

A few pointers that helped me, well, with all the other crossings as well, was:
- Aqua shoes. It's light weight, sits tigh around your foot like a tekkie but lets water pass through and provides an excellent grip on wet rocks, this is a real MUST HAVE for me for the Otter.
- Those yellow emergency bags: I packed my whole back pack and hiking boots in it, knotted it and tied it with a rope. This then floats accross the water and helps you to float better as well when the water is high. It kept everything as dry as anything.
- Start your crossig from way back down in the river and work your way accross the river to the exit point on the other side, this will ensure that the first 70% of your crossing is made real easy.

I'm gonna have a look at our photos and if I remember more tips, I'll keep you posted. :thumbs_up:
KNP: 14 June: Skukuza Camping
15 -21 June: Letaba Camping

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