Monday, August 15, 2016

Come on a Hike With Us 4

Come on a hike with us!
Goat butts

I was looking at my maps a while back and noticed there are some ruins “nearby”.

Nearby - adjective |ˈni(ə)rˌbī|
close at hand; not far away

When used by me it means:
- at, to, or by a great distance (used to indicate the extent to which one thing is distant from another) Synonyms: a long way, a great distance, afar.  
Used similarly to “just around the corner”, “one last hill”, and “almost there”. 

Roughly a 6 mile hike there.

I’ve been meaning to hike out to the ruins one of these days.  I was getting pretty squirrelly being indoors for a few days so once it warmed up a bit, Melinda and I headed out to find the ruins.  I should offer a disclaimer here by saying the maps I’m using were last updated in 1981 from arial photos taken in 1976.  
The all too familiar photo of the Senqu river.  For some reason my Canon decided to not apply the lens profile corrections, which left the photos with some vignetting and distortion.  
The coolest tap handle I’ve ever seen.  Unfortunately only water comes out of this tap and not even every time you turn it.
It’s getting a bit warmer here as we are nearing the beginning of spring.  There are lambs and kids (baby goats) all over the place.  
We reached Ha Phohla just above the Senqu bridge in about 50 minutes.  The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority is building a dam near my site.  The project will be complete in 2024 (no it won’t) and will completely fill the Senqu river valley.  The dam is projected to be around 145 meters (475 feet) tall.  These white pillars are all over the place and mark the high water line.  Dozens of villages, a few schools, and tons of farmlands will be buried underwater.  
I really like Ha Phohla.  There is a lot more vegetation than in my village and the people seem really friendly.  We stopped to chat with this lady for a minute, which just consisted of where we came from (Le tsoa kale?) and where we are going (Le ea kale?). 
Melinda is kind of a closet rock hound.  She left me with a decent collection of geodes, agates, and quartz crystals on my window sill.
Panorama not selfie. 

I just want to do a quick comparison between a modern lens and my vintage Helios lens.  The top photo was taken a few months back with the Helios.  The bottom photo was taken with a modern Canon 24 - 105mm f4.
Notice the analog and film-like look of the Helios.  The Helios is an f / 2 lens and the Canon is only an f / 4 so the background of the top (Helios) photo is more blurry.

Speaking of blurry…

I’ve tried doing this in the past with little success.  You take a photo while turning the zoom ring in the more zoomed direction.  It creates this cool looking effect.  

This path was a bit hairy so we opted for a different way back on the return leg.
Grazing lands are becoming scarce.  This cow was munching on a piece of cloth.  
Can you imagine having to walk across a river to get to your house?  
The river is 900 feet lower than my hut at around 6500 feet.  At this point we began the climb up to the ruins.  
Saw some cool stuff along the way.  Melinda had three rocks at this point.  
A rondavel at the edge of the village Ha Molungoa.  Holly cow my sensor is dirty.  Do you see all of those small dark spots in the sky?  Those are dirt particles on my cameras sensor.  I just ordered a sensor cleaning kit.  My wonderful family will throw it in my next care package.  
“Almost there”.  According to my gps, the ruins should be just up this valley.  


here they are…

Seriously?  Wasn’t that the most anticlimactic hiking view ever?
Melinda was not impressed.  She informed me that the realist (pessimist) side of her had low expectations from the beginning.
Here is a view for you.  The mountain in the center is Thaba Popa.  Melinda and I hiked to the radio tower at the top HERE.  Ha Molungoa is in the foreground.  

We had to hustle back as it took way longer to get to the ruins than I predicted (what a surprise).  
I’m so impressed by the amount of stuff the women around here can carry on their heads.  
Another view of Thaba Popa.  You can just barely see the radio tower on the top right.  We followed this dried stream bed back to the Senqu.

Neither of us wanted to walk back down the hairy path, which meant we had a river crossing.  
The water was pretty cold.  Keep in mind it’s winter here and there is a lot of snowmelt going on due to the recent storm.  
I asked her to stop for a minute in the middle of the river so I could get a good photo of her but I didn’t end up using it haha sorry babe.  
We quickly ascended the “last hill” and walked on an old dirt road for a bit.  We passed some herd boys who goofily posed for a photo.  
We got back with just a few minutes of light left.  

Thanks for coming along with us!


- Joel and Melinda


  1. Very cool pictures! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Joel. Great blog! Love the photos. My name is Michelle, and my husband and I were among the PC Blog It Home contest winners a couple years ago. I’d like to invite you to an online project I’m working on called Blogging Abroad, with the aim of helping bloggers to promote cross-cultural understanding. First, if you haven’t already submitted your blog to be featured on the site, you can do that here: I’d be honored if you would also check out the tools and resources I’ve been creating for bloggers like you (there's a monthly photo challenge and 10-week blog challenge). Those can be found here:
    Take care and happy blogging!
    ~ Michelle C.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for the compliments. I just submitted my blog.

      - Joel