They say there’s a first time for everything, and equally so a last…. Jenny beat me to publishing the photo’s by posting some of them on Facebook. She obviously had a whale of a time despite the complaints I recieved. She at least has a story to tell about camping with babies. And the story doesn’t go: Rex dragged me up into Lesotho to camp on a freezing cold night. It’s more along the lines of her insisting on coming, and me warning her about what she was in for. I think it was a pretty epic adventure but it’s definitely not going to be repeated in a hurry.
Things are about to get really busy here on the farm as my cabbage harvesting is just around the corner. I decided I needed one last getaway into the mountains before the winter sets in and things get hectic on the farm. Cabbage harvesting season is unlike anything else I have done before.The next few months will likely be the busiest of my farming career.
I decided to head over into South Eastern Lesotho to fish the Tsoelike River. It’s only a 2 1/2 hr drive to get there so it’s probably my closest Lesotho River. Initially I was going alone, but then Jenny got a case of servere FOMO (fear of missing out). She decided that she had to come. I was obviously delighted but somewhat nervous that everything went right. Was the weather going to be good enough? Would we catch any fish? Would Olli enjoy it? Would Jen be able to do motherly things with Olli? Anyway I warned her about all the things that we would be doing and she was adamant she was in. She was more worried that I would dissappear up stream for hours on end and leave here alone with Olli. She was worried that I would make her and Olli on a 20 km hike up and down mountains and cliffs. Why on earth would I do that I asked? I suppose I have a history of doing fairly crazy things when on a fishing trip but I promised her this time I would be “tame”.
We left Kokstad with a chilly berg wind blowing and I wondered if the Norwegians minimum temperature prediction would be true. They predicted a balmy 7 degrees as a minimum temperature which shouldn’t be a problem in a tent with lots of blankets. Jenny had recently heard that trout ate spinners and so we packed in the spinning rod, can you believe it! Obviously I took my normal fly gear but the spinner was something that Jenny had to try. We arrived on the river in the late afternoon at a particular spot you can drive to. We set up camp on the edge of a beautiful pool and set about collecting firewood.
Out of pure curiosity I rigged up the spinning rod and tool it to the head of the camp pool. Immediately I was in to a beautiful rainbow of about a pound. I proudly carried my fish back into camp dangling on the end of my bent rod and thrashing around in the air, like a fisherman hauling a small shad out the water off the Durban pier. “#it only counts on fly….” well I can’t say I believe much in that crap. Fishing is fishing in my books. Some ways are more difficult to master than others but at the end of the day whether it’s lure, fly or bait, it’s all good fun. I enjoy the challenge of fly fishing and I genuinely reckon it’s the most effective way to catch a trout in a steam. In a dam a spinner may be a more effective method to catch trout, but rivers are very different and you cant sight cast a lure to a trout delicately feeding off the surface. Well you can but you will most probably send the fish bolting off down stream.
We caught a few more smaller fish in the evening (on fly) which went straight into the frying pan to make a delicious meal. Some were on spinner and others on fly. I’m also not one of those fisherman who rabbidly practices catch and release. I suppose if I ever fished a river that was fished by other fishermen then I would no doubt release my fish, but as it is I always like to keep a few from the seldom fished streams that I frequent. A trout is no doubt one of the finest of all eating fish and it would a pity if we never tasted what we caught. In the words of Jenny, “Thanks to the spinner, at least we had dinner”.
That evening as we huddled round the camp fire I realised that the Norwegians had hugely underestimated how cold it would get along the banks of the Tsoelike River. Oh Shit, I thought to myself as I realised there was already frost on the tent when we went to bed. Here I was camping a night in subzero temperatures with my wife, and a 7 month old baby! We made a nest for Olli and tucked him in tight. He actually had a wonderful night. I too slept like a baby, but Jen spent most of it worrying about whether or not Olli would survive the night. There’s something about a mother and child bond that us men will just never fully understand. We tend to be the polar opposite, well at least I am the polar opposite in parenting techniques to Jenny. Thank goodness she tolerates my rather different but fun parenting techniques and sees it as ballance in Olli’s upbringing.
We woke up and everything was white with frost! From the valley bottom to the mountain tops. We had planned our trip to coincide with the first serious frost up in Lesotho. It must have been at leat -5 degrees when I stepped out the tent. My trusty Kovea gas cooker was frozen up. I never knew they froze, but obviously the gas gets very thick at low temps because the gas hardly came out. We had to do another firewood mission to boil some water. Anyone who has camped in Lesotho will know that there’s not that much of it around. This was one of the challenges. We needed to warm Olli’s food up and his milk up before he would drink or eat the stuff. The poor fella hardly ate anything on the second day because his food was cold. Babies are definitely creatures of habit and they get used to a routine which doesn’t always work out on a camping trip.
Over all Olli had a far more enjoyable time than his mother did, but let’s face it, he might has well been camping at the bottom of our garden. Jenny had an OK time. She certainly has a few war stories to tell, and as for myself well it’s definitely a been there and done that episode. I spent most of the time fussing over Jenny and Olli trying to make sure they were comfortable. I did get a small amount of fishing in, but it was quite challenging for me to leave my rod alone and change a nappy, or do something for Jen that needed doing. I don’t want to put any of you aspirant “baby campers” off but it’s not that easy. Give it a bash by all means, but take it from me, its not as simple as us men think it will be. I always enjoy the mountains but the next time we have the opportunity to go again we will leave Olli with granny’s and grandpa’s so we can relax and enjoy the mountains and rivers as we should.
Here follow a few pics of the weekend in the mountains: