UMGENI VALLEY NATURE RESERVE

Sunday 16 March 2003

 

Weather Beautiful Sunshine but not too hot. Distance about 12km No of hikers 24

 

Members participating were Johan & Annabel Engelbrecht, Terry & Sandy Griffin, Campbell & Lorraine Downie, Martin & Erica Adie, Keith & Margaret Ashton, Bea Wucherfennig, Aris Hofland, Carol Inngs, Lynn Jacoby, Tessa Gunther, Dave Sclanders and Prema & Selven Nyker (Leader).

Visitors (prospective members) were Renee Finegan, Elzeth Longland, Tronel Botha, Libby Deysel, Cyril Dicks and Liz Donnery.

 

The vehicles were parked at the reception centre and after paying our fees and exchanging greetings and introductions, we commenced our hike at 08H45. We walked past the cottages, across the mist belt grasslands and down the scarp forest into the Shelter Falls Gorge. A rustic camp guards the entrance to this gorge. A short walk along and across a boulder-strewn stream took us to the bottom of Shelter Falls. The vertical walls of this little canyon are of volcanic origin, viz., Dolerite underlain by sedimentary rocks. After a few photo shoots and a short rest our group retraced its steps back to the top of the gorge. Then we walked down into the upper reaches of Shelter Falls Stream to view the falls from above. The stream cascades over a dolerite sill for about 30 metres eventually flowing into the Umgeni River about half a kilometre away. A short walk and steep climb took us up to the reserve road. The Shelter Falls area is an ideal spot for birding and for those interested in plants and rocks.

 

Next was to follow the dirt road for a short distance before turning right onto the 4x4 track which took us down into the Umgeni Valley. Walking leisurely against a cool breeze along the Umgeni with our visitors Liz Donnery from Canada and Elzeth Longland and Tronel Botha from PMB provided me with some insight as to what interests some of our young people. They were interested in the grasses and trees along the route. At one stage I could not recall the name of a tree which aroused their curiosity. My apologies.

 

We stopped for breakfast at the Inkonka camp, a cool, shady spot. The shade is provided mainly by the white stinkwoods which attract black collared barbets when in fruit. Incidentally, I cannot recall seeing any birds in the valley during this trip.

 

After another short walk along the river, we stopped for lunch at the confluence of the Mhlangane Stream and the Umgeni River. This is a quiet, shady spot, an ideal place to picnic, to fish or to simply rest on the sandstone ledges. We spent about 45 minutes here resting in the shade of the trees and being refueled before readying ourselves for the ascent to the Indulu car park. A short climb took us to the Indulu Camp; then after a short break we were eager for the steep climb. Many hikers enjoyed this climb and those I passed were not even panting. I would like to commend the group for its general fitness.

 

The Black Eagle Trail along the escarpment is very relaxing with lovely views. Many walked at an easy pace behind me and I had to stop on several occasions to check on their progress. It was great to hear them chatting away merrily, and walking easily. For me, I could not keep pace with Prema and Tronel. I was happy to have Annabel as a companion for a short while before she fell back to join the merry band.

It was getting very cloudy as we made the last short climb to the reserve road and I was relieved we reached the vehicles before the rain.

It was good hike with friendly and cheerful people. Selven Nyker