Author Topic: KZN Gathering – 17 Feb 2019 – A Report  (Read 720 times)  Share 

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Offline Calvin_Bradley

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KZN Gathering – 17 Feb 2019 – A Report
« on: March 11, 2019, 03:01:18 pm »
Clearly I was the most excited because I got there first. It was 8:35am and I was 25 minutes early for my first meeting with the KZN LOCSA members. We’d agreed to assemble at the Engen in Shongweni, before heading out in convoy through the adjacent sugarcane fields and into the green belly of the Shongweni Valley.
I bought a coffee and waited nervously for the other members. Being naturally shy made the wait feel like two hours until the crew rattled and rolled in.
First came Mark and his 1.7 TBI, just like mine, except his had all the accessories I still need to add: spotlights, winch, roof rack with recovery gear and jerry can – sorted!
Next came Tim in his 1600. Mark called him ‘Vladimir’ and it would later be evident why, because Tim, like his Niva, is hardcore. I admired the vinyl wrap covering his cabbie, a groovy camo pattern applied by his mate. I later learned why a vinyl wrap works great for Tim, because he puts his Niva anywhere with no regard for polished paint. Good man!
I’d met Brett a few weeks earlier. He introduced me to LOCSA after learning I’d bought myself a Lada. His maroon 1.7 carb came cruising in next with his two nephews in the cab too. Brett was babysitting for the first time and was going to show these lighties an adventure.
While we chatted and waited for Yusuf and Muhammed to arrive, a WhatsApp message came in:
Muhammed – “Morning guys (sad face). Picked up my Lada from the mech this morning and drove to North Beach. The gearbox is cryyyying!”
Having excused themselves, our small band was complete and we rumbled out of there and onto a dirt track. It was the first time I’d taken my Lada off road. I’ve never owned a 4x4 and thought I never would until I learned about the Niva – which is more in my price range.
Tim took the lead and I tried to keep up. Mark tailed the rookie and Brett brought up the rear. ‘Vladimir’ then showed up and Tim took off up a steep rutted track the likes of which I’ve never seen a vehicle navigate. Vrooooom… one wheel in the sky, then the other, but he just kept going all the way to the top. I was like, “no ways, these Niva are like mountain goats!”
But I didn’t give it a go. Vladimir’s Niva is his toy and boasts under-chassis protection for all the important bits. Mine has a random wire hanging misplaced under my gearbox just waiting to be snagged by a rock or branch – plus it’s my daily driver, I can’t afford to bounce it from rock to rock for a bit of fun. But boy it looked fun and Vladimir’s permanent smile would attest to that.
We wound our way down dirt track to the bottom of the valley, hooked a right, honked our horns as we made our way through a tunnel cut into the hillside, and emerged on the other side to a magnificent site; Kirk Falls in all its glory, covering us with a wet mist as it cascaded down the cliffside that towered over us like sentinels. I’d only ever seen Kirk Falls from atop the hill across the valley, where the plebs sip coffee at the Shongweni Market. Now I was all the way down there thanks to my all-terrain but dirt-favouring vehicle.
After we’d sipped in the fresh air and soaked in the ions from the falls, we pointed our Niva towards Inanda and made hay. Inanda I did not enjoy so much, but only because the path Vladimir took us on was overgrown and the vegetation was scratching my recently-polished paint. “It’s a 4x4 bru, it’s supposed to have scratched paint!” I was told. They are right, but I’m from Durban and I like my bling ;) In truth Inanda was magnificent and further showcased the capabilities of the car I now call mine.
Mark and I turned back to Durban after that, while Brett and his nephews followed Vladimir for more adventure. They eventually got done late in the day having traversed the Valley of a Thousand Hills up towards Nagle Dam. They sent evidence of some epic off-road tracks there, plus video of Tim summiting what looked like an impossible slippery slope in his 1600. My 1700i certainly can make it too, I just have to build up the Russian-like confidence of Vlad first.
So I await our next Lada gathering with excitement. The nerves are gone and I’ve met some legends. The value and importance of a club like LOCSA have become clear to me too. Without the advice, support and camaraderie of my fellow members I’d just met, and others I’d still like to meet – like Cheeky Ari* in PE, Humble Harry in Windhoek, Big John in Mpumalanga, and the other members I interact with daily on the WhatsApp Groups – owning a Niva wouldn’t be half as much fun.
Salut to the Team!
* Ari can afford to be cheeky because he knows his stuff and gives good advice ;)

Offline Brett

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Re: KZN Gathering – 17 Feb 2019 – A Report
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2019, 03:41:08 pm »
Great read. We had a blast. My nephews will never forget that day.  After some parted ways we followed Tim up everything and made it through successfully.  Serious river crossings with high water levels, we also climbed some steep hills in a borrow pit quarry of decomposed granite. Loads of fun, laughter and memories. The vehicles are so capable and constantly impress.

Offline SARemco

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Re: KZN Gathering – 17 Feb 2019 – A Report
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2019, 09:30:34 pm »
Awesome pictures of the trail. Any map that shows the trail?

Offline Ari bezuidenhout

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Re: KZN Gathering – 17 Feb 2019 – A Report
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2019, 09:50:53 pm »
Great report,

@Remco, I think we have found our LOCSA journalist / report back for trips....

My Lada runs on grace from God, and breaks due to my failings.