MIDLANDS HIKING CLUB

 

FROM THE CHAIR

 

Well this is the last newsletter “From the Chair” for the current Club Hiking year.    In August we have the Club AGM when the new hiking year starts again.   Time does fly.   We trust that all our club members will make an effort and join your committee and hike leaders to thank them for the effort that they have put into our club this past year.

For those who have not hiked this winter because of colds , flu , bronchitis , or the weather being too cold , well the good news is that we should by now all be over the “not feeling very well” syndrome, and that the winter cold now really sets in.   September is usually a very cold time of the year, so plan to hike as soon as you have a chance before the cold really sets in. The best part about hiking at this time of the year, is one can experience the most wonderful sunsets and sunrises.   The atmosphere is dirty with the smoke of the winter veld burning, however this gives rise to the most fantastic colours in the evening and early sunrises – pinks, reds, purples, mauves and a hazy blue.   From higher up, the lowlands are almost like dreamlike places, covered in pockets of mist and haze that gives a fairy like landscape.   So, make a plan, get to the berg, get up early and experience an early sunrise.

 

Club Happenings

Club support has been variable, to a day hike being cancelled, and a weekend hike at Garden Castle also having  no takers.   The other hikes have been enjoyed by those who attended, from the day beach hike, to the walk up Sani Pass to overnight at the Highest Pub in Africa, and a slow walk down again next day.

 

I would again remind hikers that whilst on a day or longer hike, the hike leader is in sole charge of the group, and that any decision that he makes be adhered to.   By not doing as the leader requests, the whole party can be put in an uncompromising position, and this is not acceptable.

Further, it is advisable that hikers check the weather forecast for the period of the hike, and bring sufficient clothes and food for the trip, and be fit enough to do the hike.   On two occasions I have not been well and have gone on a hike which I should not have done.   In both cases the hike was not what it should have been due to my state of fitness at the time, and the other members had to worry about getting to the overnight destination in time, and me staying alive.   As I was the leader for one of the trips it was a difficult decision to make – I should have stayed in bed.   So please check with the hike leader before hand if you are not sure of what to take, or the difficulty of that particular hike.

 

Also as the winter continues, water spots dry up, and the carrying of water is essential, fill your waterbottle at every stream that you come to, the rest of the day may be dry. This includes hikes as well.   Also for those who plan overnight hike , an empty 5lt wine vat is an essential part of your kit, you may have to carry water a long way from where you overnight.                  Dave

 

WELCOME

 

Welcome to new member Anne-Lize Rosslee – we hope you enjoy many hiking hours in our company.   We now have 144 paid-up members for 2004-05 year.   We had 133 members in 2003-04 so the club continues to grow in membership numbers but not necessarily in keen participants.   Come on folks get those legs walking!

 

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

 

Members are reminded that the ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING scheduled for Tuesday, 16 August at the Hilton Hotel, commences at 19:30 (as per attached Notice of Meeting).   The meeting will be followed by a Finger Supper which will be subsidized by the Club, while the cost to members will be R20 per head.    In order to facilitate catering arrangements members intending to attend the AGM are requested to advise Irene Dickin on 033 342 3-12 /

072 484 9252 / e-mail Irene@pid.co.za by Wednesday, 10 August 2005.   Your co-operation is much appreciated.   PLEASE MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO ATTEND.

 

ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS

 

The new Club year commences on 1 August 2005 and members are reminded that annual subscriptions at R40 single membership and R60 family membership will then be due.

Subscriptions may be paid at the Annual General Meeting on 16 August or deposited direct into the Club Bank account at Nedbank Hilton Branch, Account No 1519007299 with a copy of the deposit slip including your personal details faxed to Keith Ashton on 033 330 3763.   In terms of the Constitution subscriptions should be paid within three months of the commencement of the new Club year.   Should your payment not be received by the end of October 2005, and your Club not be advised to the contrary, it will be assumed that you no longer wish to be a member of the Club and your name will be removed from the schedule.

 

Somewhere in the e-mail system this write-up by Christeen went astray, but despite the delay I am sure our members will enjoy reading all about it.

 

PADDY’S WALK – BOSTON – ABOUT 12 km

6 July 2003

 

The morning started clear, but very cold, thick crusty frost right up to the house. Thirty-five intrepid hikers gathered at the Boston Country Club at 9.00am, from the Midlands Hiking Club, Mountain Backpackers and local Boston B’Ramblers, everyone trying to find a sunny windfree spot!  We all drove our vehicles to nearby Netherby Farm, which was to be the end point of the days walk, and fitted ourselves into a smaller number of vehicles to drive on up the Dargle road to Boston View Farm, the start.

 

We’d been lulled into feeling warmer as we drove along, on climbing out the cold wind brought winter back, a good incentive for a brisk start along a gradual incline. Three Blesbuck watched us from a vantage point, two Secretary birds flew by and a Rock Kestrel soared up into blue skies looking for a meal.   A wonderful chatter of happy camaraderie filled the quiet farmland.   Our tea spot, a clear beacon on the ridge, beckoning with the lure of hot refreshment.   The climb up was fairly steep through an “Ouhout” Lucosidea sericea scrub.   The two young boys on the hike spotted two shy reedbuck on the slopes below us; the buck quickly disappeared into the scrub.

 

The views of 360 degrees, Dargle; the Karkloof; Hilton; Ncwadi Valley; Bulwer Mountain; the Boston Valley, a patchwork of farmland and to the right the Inhlosane Ridge, were lovely, a just reward.   Unfortunately the air was quite hazy from the firebreak burning during the week and the distant Drakensberg Mountains were a smudge on the horizon.   Sheltering from the chill breeze amongst the rocks we sunned ourselves, gazed, ate and chatted.    Despite the cold weather and burning there were a few brave flowers open, a dainty blue flower, Sutera floribunda, had found a sheltered niche amongst the rocks.   The occasional skink scuttled into sight, their sunning rocks now occupied.

 

Keeping to the high ground we walked through winter brown grass, and on to where a small steam slipped down through a little valley, for our lunch.   Then the long walk down, our party stretched like a multi-coloured snake, leaving a well-flattened trail behind it through the grass!   At the bottom of the hill we encountered a bramble thicket where we needed to cross a river, living up to the Boston B’Ramblers name!  A way was found through it and an easy fording place.   Netherby Farm spread neatly before us; lush green rye grass belying the season, black and white Friesland cows contentedly chewing the cud, scattered over pastures.   Paddy and Sue Carr waited at the farmhouse with tea and coffee for everyone, a wonderful end to a great day. Many thanks to Philip for arranging and ably leading, such an enjoyable outing.

Christeen Grant

 

TREASURE BEACH (MOONLIGHT) WALK

27 November 2004.

 

This was the night that the moon hid under her blanket of cloud.    Tessa very ably drove Ann (a friend) and me to Durban in torrential rain on the afternoon to participate in the beach walk.   Luckily for us the rain eased before we arrived at the Wessa Headquarters in the Bluff where we were joined by the rest of our Midlands group, namely Pat, Bushy, Hamish, Dallas, Mike, Ian, Christine, Elmarie and two friends.

 

A braai fire had been set up for us under cover, so we were able to cook and have our meal without getting wet.   We were joined by a few Durban walkers and our guides Andre and Thandile explained the proceedings for the evening.   We had to drive to Treasure Beach and proceed down about 96 steps onto the beach – quite an eerie sensation with only torchlight to guide us!

 

It continued to drizzle on and off for most of the walk, but this did not dampen the enthusiasm of the group or of our very knowledgeable guides.   It is quite amazing what creatures can be seen in the rock pools at night.   We saw tiny dog fish, beautiful sea-anemones, red and green sponges, ribbon worms, rock lobster, sea slugs (which looked like lumps of rock), sea-urchins, crabs, fairy crabs (that swim).

 

Mike and Bushy faired very well during the walk in spite of Mike having cracked ribs and Bushy having a sore knee.    Back at the car park after the walk Andre discovered that he had locked his keys in his bakkie.   However, Mike quickly came to his rescue and demonstrated his talent of lock picking and in no time at all had the bakkie open.

 

The sensible members of the party had arranged to spend the night in Durban, but Tessa, Ann and I had to drive back to Pmb and Howick.    Murphy’s law – the moon decided to shed her mantle of cloud and we had perfect moonlight to guide us home!!    We eventually got home at 01h00 having stopped at the Ultra City on the way for a coffee.

 

It was a great evening and I highly recommend the walk if it is on the calendar for this year.   A little bit of rain never hurt anyone!!

 

This is what you call “Better late than never”.   At least it’s not a year old yet!              Libby Deysel

 

KARKLOOF MEANDER

10 April 2005

 

Mark had a look of complete disbelief on his face as 31 members both old and new, family and friends descended upon “Chiarella” to join the hike to Karkloof Falls and the braai lunch afterwards.

 

Cold boxes unpacked and stacked for later transport to the picnic area by the family, the intrepid hikers set off up the road on the start of the 10-12 km walk.   Tea break was taken next to the airfield where Pat inadvertently left her hiking stick stuck into the ground next to where she was sitting.   With the miracle of modern technology the younger generation transporting the cold boxes were contacted and stopped en route to retrieve the stick, much to Pat’s obvious relief.   Hiking sticks don’t come cheap!

 

On we went along roads, through trees, up hill and down dale until we reached the first of the picnic spots next to the Falls.   This was already pretty well occupied, Karkloof Falls being a popular area.   We moved on about another kilometer to the second, smaller, site where braai fires were stacked and burning brightly.   Refreshments of all kinds emerged from cold boxes and before long everyone was relaxing on the grass next to the rapidly flowing river.   Some youngsters from another party were having high-jinx in the safer parts of the water.

 

A relaxed crowd was soon fed and watered, some even taking an afternoon nap in the shade of the trees.    In no time at all it seemed we reluctantly had to pack up to be transported back to the farm for the return to our various homes.   What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday, out in the open air, enjoying the company of like-minded friends.   Great – thank you Mark, Mary and family for your organization and transportation.

 

CUMBERLAND NATURE RESERVE

Sunday 8 May,2005

 

If you have never been to the Cumberland Nature Reserve, it is well worth a visit.   It is so close to home and yet you get the feeling of being far from the madding crowd and experience the peace and quiet of the bush.

 

Jack, Ossie and Libby left Howick in brilliant sunshine only to arrive at the entrance to the Reserve in overcast and cool conditions where we met Graham and Hildegard.   Graham had expected another hiker to join us, but having waited until 9.00, we decided to proceed with our walk.

We set up camp for Ossie in the picnic area complete with camp chair and crossword puzzle to keep him occupied for the morning.   However, he had to earn his loafing time by having the braai fire ready for our return!

 

Graham led us on a very nice walk across the top of the escarpment and down to the river.   The river is definitely not a place to swim as there are “Beware of Crocs” signs by the river.    By this time, the clouds had evaporated and it turned out to be a perfect day.    The paths throughout the Reserve are well marked and maintained.   The picnic area is very civilized with toilets in wooden huts – 1st and 2nd class – long drop or flush and with a wash basin outside the huts!!

 

We stopped for tea by the pool at the bottom of the waterfall.   The water was so still that there was the most amazing reflection of the entire height of the cliffs.   One could almost envisage that the cliffs stretched the same distance under water.   After our break we continued upstream for awhile and then climbed up the side of the gorge – a very pretty climb.   This part of the climb was similar to the Dwarfs Dawdle in the Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve.  We stopped on a rock at the top for a short break  - with a wonderful view of the river and then proceeded back to the picnic area where Ossie had dutifully prepared the fire for the braai.

 

After lunch we drove up to the top of the hill where there is accommodation,  presumably for school groups.   The buildings are on a ridge with the most magnificent views either side.   There is also an old farmhouse which, unfortunately, has been left to deteriorate.   It must have been a wonderful house at one time with the verandah all the way round and the very thick walls – such a great pity.

 

Although the turnout for the walk was poor due to the fact that it was Mother’s Day, it would have been an ideal place to take the family for an outing even if they did not want to walk.   It was very inexpensive – just R5.00 in the honesty box!!   Thanks to Graham for a great day.

Libby Deysel

 

WHALE TRAIL TUMBLE

 

We were about to climb down the cliff to Noetsie cottage on the beach.   I was carrying a particularly heavy pack and leader Selven asked me to give him my pack and he would take it down for me.  While passing it down to him my finger caught on one of the straps and the weight of the pack pulled me over.   In a flash I realised I would fall on my head on the rocks.   In a split second reaction Selven caught me and there was I upside down, legs in the air looking at the blue sky, rather like a tortoise on its back, my stick wedged between the rocks.   It took me a few minutes to decide how to get out of such an undignified position.   Other than finding later that my stick had poked me in a most unusual place I was still in one piece.   Thank you Selven.

                                             There was once a Rambler called Irene

                                             Who wanted to be first on the scene

                                             She cart wheeled down the cliff

                                             Selven caught her in a jiff

                                             Thus denying her right to be a large “Fish”.                                                    Irene Morris

 

HIKE GRADES/

RATINGS

1          Very easy

2          Easy

3          Moderate – physical fitness advisable

4          Moderate to severe –  physical fitness necessary

5          Severe – physical fitness essential

 

PRE-HIKE /TRAIL PROTOCOL

As always a gentle reminder in order to assist our hiking club leaders, please adhere to the following procedure when intending to join hikes.

Day Hikes – Please try to inform the relevant leader a week, or at least 4 days, before the hike of your intention to participate.   Week-end Camping/Hiking or over-nighting in Caves – Please try to inform the relevant leader 2 to 3 weeks before departure date of your intention to participate.

Long Week-end Trips & Longer Trails – Please contact the relevant leader as soon as possible after publication of the hike in the Newsletter Hiking Calendar.   The above is to assist the leaders in making or confirming the necessary arrangements, some of which have to be made and paid for by the Club a long time in advance.   The leaders have to put a great deal of effort into hiking arrangements.