17 June 2010
We have a fun one for you all this week! Do you remember back in January when we got stuck for 3 hours in a muddy dambo? Well, we did it again! In exactly the same stream!
The wet season finished here almost 2 months ago now and many of the flooded areas are drying up so we thought the dreaded muddy stream area would now be passable. On arrival at the stream we all got out of the vehicle to assess the situation and were able to walk across the area and only get slightly wet feet – it didn’t appear as bad as last time. After much consideration, we all said it would get stuck, but Zenus assured us that even if it did get stuck this time it would be easier to get out as we had planks and would not have to find bits of dead wood. So the decision of ‘it is gonna get stuck, but let’s try anyway’ was made! We advised Zenus to approach the mud slowly in 4 wheel drive so that if it does sink we won’t have far to dig it out, and also recommended he take a different route from last time as our old tyre tracks were still visible and by far the deepest part of the stream. Zenus, however, had other ideas . “No, I have to take it as fast as I can so I can get across before it sinks”. We all got out of the vehicle to reduce the weight and stood back while Zenus revved the engine and drove with his foot to the floor launching the Land Rover off a small ant hill, directly into the old tyre tracks, declaring ‘it is stuck!’ after clearing 20 metres of mud.
For the next 3 hours we all got stuck in (including me this time – although no photos exist to prove it) trying to get the Land Rover dug out. We gave ourselves until 2.30pm to get it moving and if we had not done it by then we would stop and walk to get help. At 2.29pm, after having to repair the jack, we managed to move it a few meters and our luck seemed to be changing, so we stuck at it. An hour later and with just 3 metres before we were on dry land. The jack broke again and this time was not repairable – what to do? Phone for help? No signal. Stay with the vehicle and wait for help? The sensible option but help was unlikely to come, as very few people use this part of the park. Walk back to scout camp and get help? At least we would be doing something.
So, the 5 of us including our armed scout set off on our hour-long 5km walk. Three hours, 10km and several leopard footprints later we approached the scout out-post in the area – in our frustration we had calculated the distance using our GPS, which measures the distance as the crow flies, and not the road which winds to avoid flooded dambos and mountains! Luckily, after about 3km of walking we picked up a signal and were able to contact the main camp. We knew help was on the way and felt the ordeal might finally be coming to an end.
On reaching the scout out-post, and with much relief, we climbed into the rescue vehicle and set off back to our stuck Land Rover, watching the sunset on our way. Towing the Land Rover out was quick and simple – although done at such speed I thought it was going to fly over the mountains! Finally, we were on our way back home, still wet, muddy and now very cold but homeward bound. After only a few minutes we became aware we had lost our rescue vehicle, so backed up to find they had now got stuck in the mud – from rescued to rescuer!!! Another 30 minutes later and we really were on our way back home.
Well, I hope we have kept you entertained with our latest tale and if you ever have to make a decision about crossing a muddy stream and you think you are going to get stuck – DON’T ‘try anyway’…
Best wishes from the Malawian Bush
Andrea and Keith