Hokkaai 4×4 trail day outing

22 July 2023

At the meeting spot, we were met by Ken & Shona, Trevor & Ronel, Eric & Cathy and John Millar. We then traveled in convoy to Robertson where we met with the trail organiser, Bruwer, and a few friends in their own vehicles who were joining us for the day. From there, we travelled to the farm that we would be on for the day.

After deflating tyres, we headed to the start of the climb up onto the spine of a row of hills, ably led by Bruwer. The first climb was fairly steep and required driving off the line as the recent rains had washed gullies in the tyre tracks. Being up on the ridge started to open some very scenic vistas of the river and valley below us. From here, the trail climbed up and down the spine with one long climb with a steep and loose section at the top which was driven one vehicle at a time. John, with his Landy, impressed everyone with how easy he made the climb look.

The next stop was at a small shallow and muddy dam. Driving around the edge of the dam became more and more tricky as more vehicles passed and Trevor, who was near the back, got bogged down in the mud. Eric provided two MaxTrax to help but with the very thick mud, it was not possible to get them sufficiently under the wheels to gain traction. Next option was to break out the snatch strap and with a gentle tug, Trevor popped out of the mire.

From there, the trail climbed to a high point where we had a short lunch before finishing the last part of the trail that would prove to be more technical. Arriving at the lunch spot, we had unknowingly driven past a very steep descent off to our left that we would be heading down. Fortunately, the damp ground meant that the steep descent was handled slowly by all without much wheel slip, unlike in high summer when the ground is very dry we were told. A short distance on bought us to a washed-out section, a sharp lefthand and a very steep climb. Looking at this combination left us feeling a little trapped between a rock and a hard place as the alternative was to attempt to drive up the steep descent we had done a short distance back. 

Fortunately, we had the advantage of watching Bruwer and another vehicle attempt the climb before us. The 45-degree climb (I might be exaggerating but it looked that way to me!) was mostly bedrock but was not exactly smooth so the first two vehicles tried a few lines before successfully climbing the section. I was next and completed it in one go but with far more wheelspin than I would have liked. Ken was the star of this climb with his old Hilux making it look far too easy! John in his Landy also made the climb look easy but we were getting used to that from him! As more vehicles did the climb it became evident that a little momentum and a light foot was the trick to the climb.

A short distance further on we stopped at a donga play area where we watched Bruwer attempt the impossible with his vehicle. Very entertaining! From there, we said our goodbyes and made our way via one of the backroads towards Worcester. We found ourselves stumped at a causeway crossing the Breede River as the river was quite high and while one could see where the causeway was, none felt up to attempting to cross. We then traveled on to the Du Kloof Lodge where we all enjoyed a sociable drink and where a number of us had an early supper before saying our goodbyes and heading home.

While it was not a long trail, the relaxed pace along with regular interesting challenges meant that it was an enjoyable day without being too long. While the very steep climb may not have been something we were expecting, it proved to be a rewarding challenge that proved that technique trumps heavy right foot!

Bruwer and the friends who made up the convoy were a pleasure to be with and I would highly recommend this trail to anyone who wants a bit of a challenge without it being a vehicle breaker.

Till next time!