DAY THREE – COMING BACK DOWN TO EARTH
Even a good night’s sleep wasn’t going to infringe on old habits; we left the peak before sunrise. The WPO and team, who we had joined up on the mountain, were excited to get home. Their two-week shift was over. They use the mountain top to scan the valley floor and listen for any gun shots in the area in an effort to scout out any poaching activity. They were also providing security for the radio hardware atop the mountain, which provides communications to the Valley.
Descending in the dark was not easy. We were definitely lighter after consuming our food and water supplies, but the rolling stones and leaf beds sliding under our feet as we stepped were very tricky to handle. Especially with a torch in one hand and a walking stick in the other. The WPO and team, on the other hand, were going down the same path with no light and nothing but weathered gumboots for shoes. Even with training, this is something I would never have been able to do. You could only hear their steps out in front of us – faster than anyone else. Nothing quite like rushing home after two weeks in the wild.
Greeted by our majestic baobab at the bottom of the track, we relaxed and waited for the vehicles to arrive. The sun had just come up and the light gave way to a sighting of a beautiful mixed flock of Paradise Whydahs flying above with their last season breeding companions.
After a good training session, the dogs were excited to get home. After my two days, so was I. It was such a satisfying and truly eye-opening experience to see just how much effort it takes to get something as simple as water to carry on security and anti-poaching duties. I was left with good memories and sights of new birds, new trees and different animal tracks.
I’m proud and happy that I finally got to climb the mountain people call “Never Again” – in my eyes, it should be known as “Why not again”.