Hiking the Amatole for furry friends

2019-04-04 06:01
Local animal lover and experienced hiker, (left) Louisa Lightfoot (52), is gearing up to take on the gruelling 100km Amatole Hiking Trail in KwaZula-Natal later this month in aid of the local JBay Animal Rescue Sanctuary. She will be joined by her sister (right) Cheryl Gilbert (56) from the United Kingdom.                                          Photo:SUPPLIED

Local animal lover and experienced hiker, (left) Louisa Lightfoot (52), is gearing up to take on the gruelling 100km Amatole Hiking Trail in KwaZula-Natal later this month in aid of the local JBay Animal Rescue Sanctuary. She will be joined by her sister (right) Cheryl Gilbert (56) from the United Kingdom. Photo:SUPPLIED

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LOCAL animal lover and experienced hiker, Louisa Lightfoot (52), is gearing up to take on the gruelling 100km Amatole Hiking Trail in KwaZula-Natal later this month.

Joined by six friends, including her sister Cheryl Gilbert (56) from the United Kingdom, Lightfoot will hike between 15km and 20km a day - all for a ‘furry’ good cause: the JBay Animal Rescue Sanctuary.

Lightfoot - who has hiked the Otter Trail, Two Rivers Trail and the Camino de Santiago in Spain - says, “The extremely challenging, yet spectacular, six-day and five-night hiking trail diverse the breathtaking Amatola Mountains in the Eastern Cape.

“According to a friend who recently completed the Amatole Hiking Trail, it is like the Otter Trail - which is already difficult - on steroids. If you are not battling un uphill, you are facing a downhill.

“It scared the hell out of me.”

Lightfoot and her fellow-hikers will take the first step of their fundraising adventure at Maden Dam near King Williams Town on April 16, and end in the magical village of Hogsback on April 22 - facing no luxuries, but cold water and a mattress at the end of each day.

Hike for a cause

Why hike in aid of the JBay Animal Rescue Sanctuary?

Lightfoot laughs: “It all started with the 56km Wild Coast Meander Hiking Trail in Transkei . . . and Mea who was a year old when we found her. Or rather, when she found us.

“Mea, quit untamed and undomesticated, spotted us in the distance as we walked along the hiking trail and came running towards us - jumping all over us, as she still does today.

“We kept walking and she followed. Not even the guide knew who she belonged to, but said as soon as we approach the river and get onto the boat that will take us across, she will return home.

“However, when we got onto the boat, Mea started swimming across the river next to the boat.”

Lightfoot says that her sister, who felt that Lightfoot’s husband would not be too happy if they returned with yet another animal - they brought home a cockatiel not long before - took it upon herself to swim with the dog back across the river and chased her away.

“On returning to our side of the river, she was very proud of herself for getting rid of the dog. Little did she know that she had followed her - again.

“Just as she did for the rest of the hiking trail.”

Not knowing what to do with her, they sneaked her into their various hotel rooms on their way back home to Jeffreys Bay.

“We had to hide her in the bathroom so that no one knew about it and gave her food from the hotel buffet. Later we decided to phone ahead to make special arrangements,” laughs Lightfoot.

And so Mea became the newest member of the Lightfoot-family.

“On our return home, the JBay Animal Rescue Sanctuary spayed Mea and administered all the necessary injections needed at that time,” says Lightfoot.

“Now it is our time to give back to them.”

Getting ready

According to Lightfoot she started preparing physically for the trail some three months ago.

She exercises four times a week doing cross fit and kick boxing, as well as walk on the beach on a daily basis.

Every Saturday morning she walks from her house in Mimosa Street to Fountains Mall where she completes the 5km trail run with a 15kg back pack on her back and wears the shoes she will use while hiking.

Lightfoot sighs, “The back pack . . . We are allowed to carry only 15kg with us - all fitted into one back pack.

“This includes three pairs of clean underwear, two shorts, two shirts, food (all in plastic bags to minimise the weight), snacks, toiletries, a torch, cutlery and cooking utensils including a gas stove.

“Fortunately there will be enough fresh water along the route.”

Donate

To donate, visit jbayanimalsanctuary.com. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and select the yellow tab ‘Donate’.

Alternatively, make a direct deposit to the JBay Animal Rescue’s First National Bank account at account number 624 8304 8445.

Donations can also be dropped off at Nina’s Real Food Restaurant and The Mexican.

For more information, contact Lightfoot at 042 296 2620 or 082 657 2780.

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