The theme song of the weekend’s hike was definitely “Squelch, squelch, squelch along the highway!” - even walking from the car to the “Ladies” at the Bushman’s Nek carpark meant muddy boots.
We - leader Warwick Keating, Keith Ashton, Dennis Mann and Moira Bolton - started off with a hillside detour to avoid the initial two crossings of a very strongly-running river. Later we joined the path up the ridge on the route to Sehlabathebe. (Warwick told me afterwards that it normally took him an hour to reach Tarn Cave by the short steep route, but he was taking us the longer but easier (!?) route.) On the way we managed to mislay Keith for about an hour, but eventually spotted him on the skyline (where else?). There were showers all along the peaks to the west and north, but we were lucky to arrive at the cave dry. Once there, the sun came out in time to give us a golden sundowner hour.
The cave was unusually damp - the wind must have been blowing the rain and the existing ‘waterfall’ in under the overhang. Fortunately we were a small group and could each have our own rock ‘cubicle’ to sleep in. Later on there was some spectacular lightning and thunder, but no rain. Next morning a glorious sunrise greeted us: far away to the north the mountain peaks were midnight blue against a crimson band of sky, topped by pale blue and gold clouds. I had no camera, and nearly woke Keith to use his, but I don’t think any camera would have recorded those colours accurately. Definitely a sight to make all the slog of the day before worthwhile.
We started back early and the mist soon shrouded the view. Warwick, Keith and Dennis went off to look at the strange rock formations nearby. Then we tumbled down the short steep route and had tea at the rock pool in the river. Over the river and through the pools, puddles and mud back to the camp - I’ve never walked so many kilometres alongside the path instead of on it!
It was a great hike - Tarn Cave is certainly worth the effort. Thanks, Warwick, for being so patient with us snails!