With the festivities of 2005 being almost vague memories already, I hope and trust that each and everyone of you had a very enjoyable time with friends and family. I and your committee wish you all a happy and fulfilling 2006, and most important of all GOOD HEALTH and many achieved goals. Remember ACHEIVEMENTS are only Goals that have been set, and done. Hopefully one of your goals this year is to share time with your fellow club members on at least 3 outings during the year.
The club events that have been held in the past few months have been well attended, thanks to all who have supported our leaders, and I am sure that the day was well worth spent. The highlight of our activities was no doubt the Club’s Xmas party at Mark and Mary’s delightful farm house. A very good turnout of members, wonderful weather, and enjoyable interaction with everyone made this an incredible day. Thanks to the helpers Keith and Margaret. In our midst we have some incredibly talented “war cry composers and performers”. Give them ONE word, and 30 minutes of practice, and the most incredible moments are performed. Those who could not come for the day missed out - again. Special mention to Mother Xmas and the incredibly lovely “fairy helper”. Thanks again to Mark and Mary for a wonderful day, well planned and executed.
The new agenda is out with this Newsletter, and it is gratifying to see how many of the events are already booked up. Don’t Snooze or you could loose out on an event of a lifetime. Remember, these trips are incredible value for money. Your leader does all the work, the research, the planning, the advertising, the booking, the paying – once your money has been collected – No Money – No Go, the leading, everything. All you need to do is get fit, and put your name down. Where can you get a better offer than that.?????
We have spoken about the Club Website at the past meetings, and our Incredible Webmaster, Rod Hart has done a huge amount of work on the old site – in the past, and now on our NEW web site. This has taken a huge amount of time and effort.
On March the 7th, at our Social, Rod will be launching the site officially to the club members. However I would urge you to help and support Rod in his task, visit the site from time to time , it is under construction and is growing and growing. Look at it, read it, and if you have constructive suggestions to make, please contact Rod. Back seat drivers, should be “Buckled up, and quiet”. The website has a very easy and catchy name to remember - www.gohiking.co.za
Thanks to Rod and his family for this powerful tool that our club has to offer anyone who may love the outdoors. We ask you to spread the word to your friends and family, and tell them to visit the site. One day you may be on it.
New Members, the club keeps growing , and we welcome the following who have joined since November: Linda Bruss , Kirsten Nieser , Lyn Gissing , Johannes Becker , Henry and Christine Bro, Dick and Wendy Gurney, Rory and Faye Balfour, Chris Dobson, Devlin Nossiter. As we have said in the past we look forward to hiking and sharing the outdoors with you.
Your leaders are there to help you, don’t feel shy to ask anything you may want to know about a hike, or kit or anything. Being better prepared makes the trip more enjoyable.
Club Evenings – we have a variety of events planned for the next few months, so please diarise these, and support us, and the presenters, on these evenings.
Time passes very quickly, this next hiking calendar takes us to the middle of May – where does the time go ???? Book it – do it.
See you at the club, or on a hike. Dave
CHRISTMAS PARTY – 4 December 2005
Our Xmas party at Mark and Mary’s Karkloof farm A delightful setting full of beauty and salad charm
The weather was beautiful if rather hot
We (41) all found (or made) shade just like a shot
Five teams were we (Boat, Camp, Cave, Sock and Tent) and a war cry was our goal
Time was brief and each of us had to play a role
The war cries were entertaining and some hikers let their hair down Our small mature group managed to gain first crown
The judges were kind and had something to say
About “outstanding” characters in each little play
Oh what fun to sleep in a CAVE. Yeah!
To do so you need to be daft or very brave. Yeah!
Your bones aren’t shaped to fit on the ground. Yeah! You spend all night turning and tossing around. Yeah!
Creepy crawlies of all sizes are there by the score. Yeah! If you are not extra careful you’ll be very sore. Yeah!
The sounds of the night will keep you awake. Yeah!
And the cold will make your bones shiver and shake. Yeah!
To sleep in a cave you must be mad. Yeah!
But it’s a wonderful experience most hikers have had. Yeah!
When the braai fires were ready we all crowded around
Besides the delicious aroma lively chatter was the only sound
Orienteering was next on the programme, all over the place
Some of the energetic ones set a running pace
Riding on the foofie slide or swimming in the dam
Made a pleasant cool interval before a nice tea, crumpets, cream and jam
Father Christmas (Pat K) arrived with “his” gentle fairy wife (Bushy)
And numbers were called out amid laughter and friendly strife
Presents of all sorts were bandied around
And the party really got off the ground
Troublesome, boxes of chocolates and wine often exchanged “homes”
But a little lonely purple candle never far did it roam
It was a truly fantastic way to end our year
Our sincere thanks, love and best wishes and to all good cheer
LAUNCH OF THE CLUB’S NEW WEBSITE - MARCH SOCIAL EVENING
www.gohiking.co.za - This is the address for Midlands Hiking Club's new look Website. Current and archived newsletters and fixture lists are published on the site together with photo reports, photo of the month and the new exciting feature of having an index of trail reports.
GOHIKING with MIDLANDS HIKING CLUB!
Congratulations to Activities Organiser Irene Dickin and Mark Wisdom on their marriage on
14 January. We wish you both many years of happiness together. See you on the next hike!
WISHING A SPEEDY RECOVERY
To our members on the “Not so well” list - we wish mountain man Chairman Dave rapid healing of his injured foot tendon as also Iain Talbot and Bushy Kirby, may you all soon be hiking once more in our company.
SWEETWATERS COTTAGE : DRAK GARDENS
5/6 November 2005 Roseanne Dix
Keith and Margaret Ashton; Peter and Christine Connolly; Rob Krogh; Hettie Randall; Tony Moreno; Dan and Rose Dix.
It was indeed a dark and rainy night as we drove up to Keith and Margaret’s beautiful cottage at Drakensberg Gardens on Friday. Being welcomed with a cup of the most delicious gluwein was a wonderful prelude to one of our best hiking week-ends .
Being ..um..”seasoned hikers”… we didn’t allow the rather gloomy weather forecast to dampen our spirits, so bright and early on Saturday morning, we parked our vehicles where the Giants Cup Trail meets the road and set off to climb Bamboo Mountain – our goal being the Dinosaur Footprints, a hike of 8kms with a climb of 550m. The hike up is easy with so many beautiful little surprises around each bend in the path. The mist shrouded the hills as we ascended so we had to use our imagination to conjure up views of Garden Castle and Little Bamboo Mountain. On the way, Keith found traces of the Petrified Forest – a very impressive log turned into stone – I think most of us have walked through this amazing site without realising it .
Having reached our destination of the Footprints, we enjoyed a well earned lunch, but unfortunately couldn’t climb to the top of Bamboo, because by now the mist was rolling in thickly up the valley. Keith took us down a shortcut which was extremely exciting because it felt as though we were treading where no one had trodden before ..(well, that’s how my imagination works!.) The descent was very steep and slippery but the scenery really awesome with enormous rocky outcrops falling away into deep valleys green with tree ferns. Descending that way saved a whole 4kms, which gave us far more time to socialise and enjoy the welcome comforts of “home”.
Sunday dawned cold and very, very wet, but a few brave souls dragged on soggy sox and boots and once again set off – this time a really easy, extremely pretty, walk to Three Pools, where we could indulge the senses with the sight of beautiful little waterfalls and deep dark emerald pools ..... a peace-filled place. Before we could go any further, the rain came pelting down and thunder battered the hills around us as we hot-footed it back, a sudden hail storm swirled around us.
It is a moving experience to be walking through these conditions, as one’s whole focus narrows to oneself and one’s surrounds and makes one conscious of our insignificance in the general scheme of things.
A truly meditative moment – IF one can stop that wee small voice from saying “Hope those hailstones don’t get any bigger”
Thank you Keith and Margaret for a lovely weekend, filled with fun and laughter and thank you for inviting me to write this article.
DAY HIKE TO ROCK ART CAVES, KAMBERG
16 November 2005 Peter Wedge
A party of 8 hikers undertook this quite spectacular hike on Sunday 16 November. Alison Gunning was the leader and we had the following people in the group:
Allison – Leader; Teresa; Kirsten; Fiona; Antoinette; Linda; Bea and Peter Wedge.
This was an unusual hike in that it was Alison’s debut as a leader (she passed with flying colours!) and a first hike with a sole male in the party. Peter feeling a bit daunted with seven ladies – some with recent mini traverse experience under their belts – but hikers are hikers – boys or girls! Linda was the new boy (girl) and clearly is a new potential member.
Peter and Bea arrived at Kamberg Camp – about 11/4 hours from Howick with no-one in sight but the rest of the small party arrived 5 minutes later so we were off by 09h00.
The Kamberg, as the Afrikaans name implies, represents a cocks comb and the mountain is really KZN’s answer to Japan’s Fujiyama!
The hike from a point within 1 km from the Kamberg Camp starts fairly easily and then a degree of climbing begins after about 3 kms. Our objective was one of the Rock Art caves and technically we should have had a guide but there didn’t appear to be any such person readily available so we decided to find the cave ourselves armed with a good ordinance survey map and clear instructions from Dave Sclanders.
After about 5 kms we came across a cottage in total demolition mode – well almost. Remnants of a bathroom remained with an incongruous “bog” still installed. We took a photo of Theresa suitably enthroned which will soon be on the website! Nice one Theresa!
Further up the track we came across Mary Clover’s old family cottage – again in similar disarray, but its amazing how quickly nature reclaims her own.
Presumably KZN wildlife prefer to keep evidence of human habitation for future generations. It doesn’t really look out of place – particularly when it starts to become overgrown and veldt and forest begin to take over.
We stopped for a snack break atop a nice rocky outcrop with good views of the steepening valley contours. We came across the main cave after about 3½ hours. This is big and is quite dramatic with a big overhang and very clear and well-defined Bushman paintings.
We started for home down the slope to the river (Mooi) and halfway down Bea spotted a pair of Cape clawless otters cavorting in one of the pools. This was an incredible bonus for us all. These are quite large animals – possibly 1m in length and very handsome with a white breast and long surprisingly slender tail. We watched them for fully 10 minutes – they were apparently oblivious of us but the closest we could get to them was about 25m. Alison took several digi photos which we all hoped would show some details of these delightful and elusive creatures. (Regretably, these photos were not good!)
The route down the valley seemed quicker than the ascent (why is this?) and we arrived back at the cars just as serious rain began – we had encountered a few spits and spots with about 4 kms to go.
The route to the cave and back we estimated at 15 kms with grade 2 for the valley ascent and descent with a few grade 3 interludes.
A great day with the otter sighting making it memorable for us all. This hike should be considered for an annual event.
WISHING EVERYONE MANY HAPPY HIKING HOURS IN 2006
Sunday 20 November 2005. Jack Long
LEADER: Aris Hofland
Hikers: Libby, Tessa, Joan, Glynnis, Barbara, Sally, Selwyn, Graham and Jack
I was looking forward to this hike as an opportunity to show off the beauty of the area in which we live. Unfortunately, there weren’t many to show it off to and they had all seen it before.
However, it was a happy group that set off from outside the museum to our first stop – a look at the falls from the view site. We then proceeded to the start of the gorge walk. It is wonderful that such a beautiful walk should be so close to the centre of Howick. On reaching that section of the path near the river before it turns sharp right to cross the rustic bridge, we went to a view site on the bank of the river. In my opinion, this affords the most spectacular view of all.
After viewing the falls we returned to the cars and proceeded to the top of Lakeview Road to climb Beacon Hill. By this time it was starting to get very hot and we were relieved to reach the top where we were rewarded with a cool breeze. The view from the top was stupendous. Someone remarked how more so it would have been if the dam had been overflowing. After a longer return walk through the wattle plantation, we drove to Aris’s house. Here we were greeted by a smiling Cina with a wonderful wonderful spread of eats and cool drinks set out on tables in their beautiful garden. After a relaxing chat we walked down to the river.
The river walk is a very beautiful part of Howick and is well maintained by the residents’ conservancy.
After a pleasant picnic lunch on the banks of the river, we returned to the Deysel’s house in Umgeni Road where we enjoyed the generous and much appreciated hospitality of Libby and Ossie.
25-27 November 2005 Hettie Randall
Mary Clover, Mark Nellist, Keith and Margaret Ashton, Hildegaard Lenz, Irene Dicken, Hettie Randall, Grethe Simkiss, Graham Cullinan, Brian Henwood, Bushy and Pat Kirby.
Mary's cottage is highly spoken of and for good reason. It is on the fringe of the most spectacular peaks, one feels within arm’s length of the best! I managed to get a lift from Karkloof with Mary joined by Irene and Hildergaard. Mark followed up later. When we arrived at the cottage early evening, we were met by Margaret and Keith, Grethe and Graham who had travelled up early on Friday morning and already had a 13km hike to the Blue Grotto under the belt and seemed very relaxed with it!
In the morning we were joined by Brian around 08:00 and half an hour later we left the cottage, “to do a round the top hike” which, after such a good night’s sleep, I cheerfully acknowledged sounded good. Ignorance is bliss. We walked from the cottage going southwards on a lower contour track until we could see Champagne Castle Hotel in the valley below us, looking east to west, were "Matterhorn" (1995m) and "Maartens" and further west was "The Sphinx". Flowers, flowers and flowers everywhere, oh what a sight!
At just over 2km from the cottage, we turned right to do the "Hlathikulu Loop" and hiked through several sections of lovely indigenous forest. After the loop we crossed over the Sterkspruit, backtracked on the south side of the river and climbed upwards to join Keartland's Pass. It was terribly hot and humid and sure enough the distant rumble of thunder warned us that the weather forecast of rain was accurate and on its way. The Pass seemed to go on forever, steeper and steeper and then we were climbing in torrential rain with hail until we joined the track above the Sphinx. We reached the contour track at Blind Man’s Corner and took a much needed lunch break under the trees at a picnic spot below Sterkhorn. We were all drenched and I was exhausted! It felt like 20 minutes later and as if my dripped on sandwich was still trying to cross the gap between my mouth and stomach when our leader, flailing her red cape, got us all onto our feet and marched us back up past Blind Man’s Corner northwards along the contour track, below "The Turret" and "Amphletts" to Hhlatikulu Nek.
Taking the right fork north-westwards at this point towards the "V", we then continued in the same direction to the top of the steep Makhulumane Valley (about 7.5 km from Blindman’s Corner). We were moving at what felt like a slow jog, the path now a running river between my feet, was a blur. I had left the lunch stop ahead of Margaret and Hildegaard, purely because that’s how we shot out the bottleneck and after some distance, I stopped to catch my breath. Looking back, I had the blazes scared out of me! Along came Margaret, clad in nought but her costume and a herdsman’s staff, looking like some apparition of the “Keeper of the Hlatikulu Nek track”, striding towards me with a mean look. The adrenalin took me forward and onwards, all I could do was to weakly keep asking Keith how much further, getting a cheerful “only 4kms” – not what I wanted to hear, as reply, as I stumbled after the crazed roadrunner in the red cape ahead.
The storm was now at our back, with lightening cutting across the sky threateningly and the clock obviously not on our side. We finally descended steeply into the Makulumane Valley and through a lovely indigenous forest, past the largest cabbage tree in the world – I have a photo to prove it, then past Makhulumane Rock (pronounced MacLamonie by Keith, who challenged me to climb to the top and have my photo taken – with what strength I asked!) - and finally back to the cottage. It was 18:00 and 23.3kms later. I would never have believed I could do it. It took my legs two days to recover!
Sunday was cloudy and cold, Mary, Mark, Brian, Grethe, Graham, Bushy and Pat (who had arrived on Saturday morning and spent a leisurely day waiting for us (long wait!)), took a slow walk around looking at the adjoining properties while Irene, Margaret and Keith went for a hike up Steilberg doing about 9km, (there’s no stopping some people). Hildegaard and I curled up in the big leather couches, sipping Capuccino and reading magazines, occasionally looking out at the beautiful, cold and windy view.
A really great weekend with very good company, all well out of my league but I’ll get there! Mini Traverse here I come!
Thank you Keith for map points and distances.