MIDLANDS HIKING CLUB

 

FROM THE CHAIR

 

This is the first newsletter of the Clubs New Hiking Year, and time has passed so quickly since the AGM.   The committee has had its first meeting, and you will have noticed a few changes already.   To try to get to know our members better, and for members to get to know the committee and leaders better and to hopefully get to “deliver what the members want from the club”, every 4th social will be partly sponsored by your club funds.   By this the club will sponsor snacks, light sandwiches, and some wine, and have a more social evening than just the normal monthly meet.   We will still have a presentation  for interest and information.

We have also decided to have only one day hike a month, and one week-end hike a month.

Your leaders need support in their efforts to promote outdoor activities for the club.

We urge club members who have digital cameras, and who may have interesting pictures to share them with us.   Also if you know of anyone who may have an interesting topic to share with us, to put us in contact with them.

As has been said before, this is our club, not just the committee and its leaders, lets all build the club.

Since the AGM, a number of  successful events have been held, and I thank those who have supported the club at these venues.

The Mini Circular Traverse went off very well.   We experienced incredible weather changes, from hot to mist to rain to very high winds that at times threatened to blow us off the mountain tops.   However the magnificent views we experienced, and the camaraderie of all concerned, almost makes this a hike to be repeated on an annual event.    I must make mention here of the tenacity  of one of our members, who despite the fear of heights, and under severely testing conditions, with a pounding heart conquered the fearful Chain Ladders – a lesson for all of us   “where there is a will anything can be overcome”.

Other events that went off very well was Phillip Grant’s Nhlosane South Ridge hike.  After a long days hike, a number of us spent a very relaxed evening by the fire (it was cold that evening) at Phillip’s house, with some cold beers and hot soup and rolls, before heading home.   Thanks to all those who stayed, and supplied the food and drinks.

The Mid Illovo day hike with Bushy and Pat was very much enjoyed by those few who attended the day.   As this was a first time hike for the club it would have been nice to have had more folk at the day.

The Mountain Shadows week-end with the Ashton’s was a great success, and enjoyed by everyone who attended.   There was also a visit to the nearby Crane Foundation.   This was also a first time hike for the club.

There have been 2 slide/digital shows at club nights, both were very well attended.   We thank those who took time out to share these trips with the people concerned.

Just aside from the club matters, I have been extremely busy over the past 6 weeks leading or being part of 7 trips to the berg.   From 3 day trips to 2 x 5-day and a 6-day trip.   We have experienced all sorts of weather, one day in particular we experienced severe high temperature, a dramatic change in weather in half an hour to a frightening thunderstorm with heavy rain and very close lightening, hail, high winds and a form of sleet.   On another trip, it changed from sunny, to incredibly thick mist for the rest of the day.   Then in my favorite area – Kamberg – hiking with a German honeymoon couple, we had to use the GPS to get us off the mountain.   We must remember, we are in nature’s hands, and we must go prepared to enjoy any experience that we encounter on route.   I can tell you, that at the end of each hike, those hiking with me said at the time they were incredibly intimidated by the surroundings during that particular experience.   But, at the end, all parties in one way or the other expressed their feelings, and came to a sort of common conclusion – “experiences lead to growth and a better understanding of nature and the environment”.

We all need to grow every day, in some way or another, or we wither and die.   Growing under ‘Mother Nature”, is possibly the nicest way to grow.

 

As I write this report early, I hope that the rest of the club’s outings before our next social will afford us all the time to experience a Natural Growth. 

 

I wish you all good hiking.                                                                                                   Dave

 

NEW MEMBERS

 

We welcome the following new members and wish them many happy hiking hours in our company:  Craig & Sandra Bekker;  Christie Exall;  Brendan McGuirk & family;  Val Spicer; 

Howard Townsend;  Melody Verbaan.

 

HOMORARY LIFE MEMBERSHIP

 

In appreciation of many years of dedicated, loyal and outstanding service to the Club, Warwick & Brenda Keating have been made Honorary Life Members of the Club. 

 

CONGRATULATIONS

 

Congratulations to Activities Co-Ordinator Irene Dickin and Mark Wisdom of their  engagement on 6 November.   We wish them every happiness for their future life together.

 

RENEWAL OF ANNUAL SUBESCRIPTION

 

In terms of the Constitution non-payment of subscriptions for the current year will result in membership of the Club terminating effective the end of October.   At a meeting of your committee it was agreed that renewal would be extended to the end of November 2005 after which regretfully those with outstanding subscriptions will be removed from the memberhisp list.    If it your intention to remain a member of the Club and perhaps this matter has slipped your mind, please give it your urgent attention.   We would like to have you in our midst a while longer.

 

ANNUAL CHRISTMAS PARTY

 

The annual Christmas Party is scheduled for Sunday, 4 December, at Mark Nellist’s farm  “Chiarella” in the Karkloof area.   Time of arrival is 10:30 to 11:00.   In the morning there will be a selection of teams for the fun events scheduled for later in the day and a practice of “war cries”.     Braai fires will be lit ready for a picnic lunch at approximately 12:00.   Members please bring meat, salads, rolls and drinks or whatever is your fancy to have for lunch, plus table, chairs, cutlery and glasses.  As a shield against the sun, and hopefully not the rain, those of our members who have gazebos and/or beach umbrellas these would also be appreciated.   In the afternoon fun events will be organized between the teams selected in the morning.   A further fun event for which each member is requested to bring a small gift of no more than R10 – R15 value will follow.   For afternoon tea each member is requested to bring a small plate of cakes or biscuits to share.   Father Christmas is expected to arrive at about this time.   Prizes will be awarded for the various events and lucky draw prizes will be awarded.    

If you do not know the way to Mark’s home please telephone him on either 082 826 2526 or 033 330 2703, failing him try Mary on 083 700 6199.    We look forward to as many as possible attending this annual event and getting to know their fellow members.   Please confirm your attendance to Mark or Mary by 28 November.

 

FUTURE SOCIAL EVENINGS

 

At a meeting of your committee it was agreed that at every third or so Social Evening snacks such as nuts, chips, cheese, crackers and sandwiches plus white and red wine will be provided.   This all at no cost to you, so come along folks, support your Club, your committee is putting every effort into making your club as user friendly as possible for you, the member.

 

We would also like to bring to the attention of members that some of the Social Evening dates have had to be changed.   These will remain on a Tuesday evening at the Hilton Hotel but not necessarily on the third Tuesday.   Please consult the Fixture List to ensure that you do not arrive on the wrong evening.

 

GWAHUMBE GAME RESERVE

25 September 2005

 

Leader:  Bushy Kirby, Pat Kirby, Libby Deysel, Sally Browne, Allison Hobday, Jeff Matthews, Irene Dickin

A small group of us, maybe due to hot weather and being same weekend as the Mini Traverse, visited Gwahumbe Game Reserve at Mid Illovo.   This is a beautiful private Game Park, well worth a visit.   We had a very pleasant non strenuous hike, led by Bushy and the weather turned out fine for hiking due to some cloud cover.   We saw a variety of animals and birds, many in close proximity including rhino, giraffes, wildebeest, nyala, zebra, Egyptian geese, storks and my highlight which was a hippo giving a huge yawn at the dam. I managed to lose my sunglasses while taking a photo of a giraffe - thanks to Bushy and Libby who helped me search and the others for their patience waiting. Unfortunately they weren’t found but we had fun with the binoculars trying to spot the giraffe who may be wearing them.

We had lunch at a picnic spot next to a river, undercover facilities with benches and table are available if necessary - we preferred to sit out on the chairs provided. We also visited a lovely deck set in the cliff side overlooking the hippo dam - would be ideal for sundowners. The day was ended with refreshments at the bar for most, my penance for having coffee and rusks was to write the article! The owners were very friendly and hospitable - even offered to go look for my glasses for me - but I think we looked enough - let the giraffe have them.   I’d definitely recommend the venue if you like game viewing. Thanks to Bushy for his leadership and everyone for the pleasant company.                                                                                                                                Irene Dickin

MOUNTAIN SHADOWS

Leader:   Keith Ashton;  Margaret Ashton, Ossie & Libby Deysel, Bushy & Pat Kirby, Rory & Faye Balfour, Hildegard Lentz, Tessa Gunther, Tess Anne Osbaldeston, Howard Townsend, Irene Dickin, Mark Wisdom

A very pleasant weekend was enjoyed by all at this lovely venue.   Mountain Shadows is well worth a visit, lovely accommodation and facilities at very reasonable prices.

We arrived on Friday night with two friends, Faye and Rory. The owners were most welcoming, and after settling in we headed for the boma for a braai with the rest of the group. There is an honesty bar available, although most of us had brought our own refreshments. There was a fire lit in the bar and table tennis and pool also available.  We all mainly gathered round the braai, and ate together at long tables provided.

On Saturday most of us set off to climb Mount Lebanon - Hildegard, Ossie and Tessa decided to stay behind and relax. The weather was pleasant, although pretty hot climbing at times.  Rory kept us amused on the way with his Cow mooing impersonations - one took quite a fancy to him and followed for quite a way.   Most of us made it to the beacon, it was a lovely clear day to appreciate the view from the top.   It was interesting for me to eventually see the view that I missed last time I’d been there due to thick mist - just before we spent that memorable new year somewhere on Mount Lebanon.

That night we all had a braai again - it’s a lovely boma for a get together.   As the night went on there was much hilarity at the table - more stories and impersonations from Rory and Hildegard found numerous uses for the stick ornaments like reaching for what looked interesting on other people’s plates.

The next day we visited the Crane Sanctuary which was most interesting.  A young girl gave us a guided tour and she had plenty of interesting facts and amusing stories about the various cranes in their care.   She later showed us around an education centre with a cottage for hire which the club may use next year.

Then it was back to Mountain Shadows for lunch before setting off home after a very enjoyable weekend.   Thanks to Keith for leading the hike and organising the weekend and to everyone for the great company.                                                          Irene & Mark                                                                                                           

 

MINI TRAVERSE

23 – 27 September 2005

 

It was very early in the morning when 11 hopeful hikers set out on a sunny Friday morning to conquer the berg.   From the Sentinel, up the chain ladder and along the Amphitheatre was the route and we were geared for a hard 5 days in tents and with minimal water.   As we all met at Little Switzerland and made our introductions we wondered if we would indeed all make it.   The 5 hikers from Durban Backpackers looked particularly young, fit and strong and we must admit we were a bit intimidated by their athleticism.    But we soldiered forth.

 

From the Sentinel car park we followed Leader Dave on the start of our trek on the windy path up to the chain ladder.  I had been told it was a short walk to the ladder, but after a while was beginning to wonder if there actually was a ladder and that maybe the excitement of climbing a long ladder was just a lure to get me up the mountain.   But yet, there it was and I must admit it was a sight.   Two huge long ladders snaking up the escarpment.   It was so exciting (for some) to be climbing such a mammoth ladder, on the side of a mountain with a 20 kg (and above) backpack.   After carefully making our way up – and with some help from the 2 gentlemen from Durban (thanks Justin and Fred) we all made it and were on our way.   First stop was lunch at the top of Tugela Falls – or as we saw it the Tugela Trickle!   Spectacular views and a clear day made lunch, well, just that little bit more exciting.   Then it was off again until we set up tent.   The next 4 days were spent in absolute awe of the majesty of the Drakensberg.   Dramatic cut backs from the escarpment and deep valleys below was cause for great joy and wonder.   We were able to see little cameos of the mountains that one could only see if one were as high up as we were; the Madonna being worshipped, rat-hole cave and even the donkey (Teresa swears he’s wearing a hat!) were only a few of the treasures that we found.   The weather on the other hand was not so obliging.   We hiked through falling snow, piercing rain and I am not joking when I say gale force winds.   We had to tent over for 2 nights at the same place as it was too windy to carry on and even on our morning walk, without packs, we found it difficult to put one foot in front of the other without fighting the gusts.

 

After 5 days of harsh conditions, yet awesome scenery we made our way back to the “highway” in order to descend the chain ladders.   This proved to be somewhat of a challenge for all involved, as the winds were so strong that many had to stop mid stride on the ladder and wait for gusts to subside.    After coaxing, clinging, crying and carrying we all made it to the bottom and then set off for the cars.   The adventure was by no means over as the steep descent down was fraught with gale force winds that were able to knock Margaret off her feet and caused many a weary hiker to be blown off the path.   Not a very calming thought when sheer drops down the cliff were looming.   As we all hurtled into the cars – forced in by the wind – we were grateful that we had made it, tired and smelly from 5 days in the mountains, in awe of the sights we had just seen, yet glad that Escourt Ultra City and the promise of burgers and coffee was only one and a half hours away!                                                                                                    Moira Filmer

 

 

ANIMALS OF ETOSHA

 

On entering Etosha Game Reserve from Tsumeb through the Namutoni Gate, giraffe, impala and herds of kudu are seen along the drive to the camp.    From the camp heading in a northerly direction towards the Andoni plains the first sighting was of the King of the Beasts relaxing in the shade of a tree obviously sated as he was totally disinterested in the impala and other animals around him, surveying them with majestic disdain.

Out into the open plains teeming with thousands of springbok, herds of blou wildebeest, zebra, gemsbok and ostrich for as far as the eye could see.   A pair of black-backed jackals snuggling together next to the road made no effort to move with the approach of the vehicle, while the shy steenbok danced daintily to a safer distance from where it stopped and surveyed the strangers.   A blou wildebeest corpse was being guarded by a marabou stork, approximately 50 whitebacked vultures all facing in the same direction and black-backed jackals on the perimeter hoping to get a share of the spoils.   We were told they were waiting for the Lappet faced vulture to appear and rip open the carcass as it is the only vulture strong enough to penetrate the hide of a wildebeest.

Out of the scrub on the roadside appeared a serval, so quick it was almost missed.   Ground squirrels sat up appraising the scene and an eland strolled by.

At the waterholes were herds of red hartebeest, kudu and  black-faced impala.   In Namutoni campsite the blackbacked jackals’ eyes glowed from the surrounding bush, hoping to get an opportunity to scavenge something to eat, and daring to scamper through the camp if nobody made any move to chase them.   While at Halali a pair of honey badgers wandered right into the campsite looking for hand-outs, a striped mongoose also paid a visit on the same errand.   Out on the Etosha pan lionesses lay in guard over the corpse of a zebra kill.   By the next afternoon there was no sign that anything had ever been there.

Moringa Waterhole in Halali elephant arrived in great numbers for their evening drink, closely followed by the rhino, blackbacked jackals and spotted hyena.   Teenage elephants took it upon themselves, closely watched by their mothers, to try and terrorise the rhino who regarded the youngster with adult superiority.   Among the spectators the tree squirrels romped inviting the watchers to toss a tasty morsel their way.

 

 

 

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.