Thirteen hikers – Keith, Margaret, Sylvan, Prema, William, Pene, Bianca, Ian, Campbell, Antonio, Deneys, Arlene, & Aris ignored the rather unpleasant weather & reported to the Highmoor Wilderness Office at 8-00am. According to Campbell’s ingenious Swiss knife/altimeter, the Office is situated at an altitude of approximately 1800m & located as per map at 29 13 S, 29 43 E.
After paying the entrance fees & changing into weather resistant hiking gear, we set off by 08-30am. Soon thereafter we crossed the first stream & listened to the musical roar of the nearby waterfall – one of a number we discovered during the day.
Good soaking rains had fallen as witnessed by the greenness of the land, the fullness of the dams & the observance of small & large waterfalls.
The path continued on its gentle uphill climb & suddenly Keith our leader turned left, off the comfortable path & headed to the Caracal Cave. “There it is,” he said. The sandstone cave was our first rest-point & we patronised it for a coffee/tea break.
From the Caracal Cave we went up in the direction of the old “Look-out”, normally a good landmark, but now invisible due to the low clouds, but Keith confident in his inner navigational ability led us on the climb up through long grass & then burned (already green) veld to a now one room dilapidated structure – the old “Look-out Tower”.
Dark clouds prevented us clearly observing the High Drakensberg including Giant’s Castle. Nevertheless the view was superb. The wind at this stage was blowing strongly.
Fortunately our leader found a good wind sheltered grassy spot & in no time all of us were eating our lunch.
It was here that the majority of the party felt it was good to return back to the Highmoor Office by going a direct route (safely led by Campbell).
Keith then having celebrated the Ashton’s family 2000/2001 New Years Eve in the Aasvoelkransgrot (Vultures Cliff Cave), encouraged Margaret, Sylvan, Prema, Ian & Aris to join him in another half hours walk to the Grot.
The descent to the lower of the two Vultures Caves was not easy but we managed & were rewarded by the beauty of it. The cave has a wide open cooking area, a magnificent waterfall & fresh un-chlorinated & non-fluoridated potable water. The waterfall pool can easily serve as a natural venue for a swim.
We made our way back to the office via the trout dam & arrived there in good spirit.
It had been a great day & we were strengthened in our opinion that Highmoor is an excellent place for day hikers & nature lovers.
Our thanks go to Keith for leading our party in an able way. Also thanks to Sylvan, who gave me a lift that day.