Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Hike From Katse to Mohale

Easter came and went…

With the holiday comes a one week break from school here in Lesotho.  This April marks the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps cooperation with Lesotho.  Every year all of the volunteers in country get together for a conference.  This year, Peace Corps Lesotho wanted to celebrate our annual all volunteer conference in conjunction with the anniversary.  The conference was again held at Mohale Lodge near Mohale Dam.  Austin, Katie, Wagner, and I thought it would be fun to hike from Katse dam to Mohale dam and meet everyone at the conference.  

Katse Dam
I hitch-hiked from Mokhotlong to Thaba-Tseka to meet Austin and Katie at Austin’s house.  That ended up being a trip in itself.  The back road is pretty terrible and requires a 4x4 vehicle.  Along the way we had to get out and help push a German couple’s Ural 2 wheel drive side car motorcycle up a nasty hill.  I somehow arrived in Thaba Tseka just after noon, with a group of rowdy, fly-fishing Afrikaners. 

The following day we hitched to Katse dam, where we met Wagner.  

Kate is the second largest double curvature dam in Africa.  The engineer in me has been dying to see it in person.  
Katse dam was one of the last items on my Lesotho bucket list to see.  

After visiting the dam, we headed to a house party.  We all checked out pretty early as we were starting the hike the following morning.
After some great hitch-hiking we began the 30 linear kilometer hike to Mohale dam.  
We were all a bit worse for wear because of the previous night so we called it quits at around 4:00 pm.  We kept telling each other “tomorrow will be different, tomorrow we’ll really cover some ground”.  Turns out that sort of rang true…
After an hour long breakfast break we were actually starting to make some headway.  The Maloti Mountains are a bit brutal to travel through.  In order to get to the next ridge, we would have to make the choice of dropping 400 meters to cross a valley and then climb that amount again, or keep our contour as much as possible and traverse the long way around.  
We had a 2000 foot (yes I realize I’m mixing standard and metric units) descent down to the Malibamatso (Ma-dee-ba-mot-sue) River.  
After walking through several villages, where they obviously didn’t get many outside visitors, we were finally within site of the reservoir.  
We spent the night near the road, tired of walking for hours on a dirt road.  Hiking becomes much less interesting when the trail ends.  
The second morning, Wagner and I headed out early for some reason, which makes much less sense as I write this.  

Mohale Dam
We took several advantageous short cuts and arrived at our destination after 3 hours of hiking.  Mohale dam is an embankment dam (sort of like a giant beaver dam).  
Like Katse dam, Mohale dam is not hydroelectric.  Its only purpose is to store water for South Africa as water is Lesotho’s number one export.
Com’on Lesotho!  Clean up your waterways.  

Wagner and I got one final great hitch from a dam employee from the dam all the way to the front door of the hotel.  I checked in and took a well needed bath (our shower was broken).  

A few hours later this one showed up and all was right in the world.  
After the conference, Melinda and I “hiked” from Katse dam to Bokong Nature Reserve.  I’ll post that blog in a few days time.  


- Joel

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