MIDLANDS HIKING CLUB

 

CHAIRMAN’S REPORT

 

Chairman Dave S has vanished into the Southern ‘Berg on one of his regular excursions.   Not sure whether he is hunting the Rhino, seeking out Sleeping Beauty with a view to an Engagement or hoping for a glass on OB’s in Hidden Valley’s Sherry Cave.   Whichever it is Dave, enjoy and tell us all about it on your return.

 

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

 

Members are reminded of the ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING scheduled for Tuesday,

15 August 2006 at the Hilton Hotel commencing at 19h00 (see Notice of Meeting and Agenda).   The meeting will be preceded by registration and followed by a Finger Supper which will be subsidised by the Club, while the cost to members will be R20 per head.   In order to facilitate catering members intending to attend the AGM are requested to advise Irene Wisdom on

033 347 0138 or 072 484 9252 or by e-mail on irene@pid.co.za by 10 August latest.   Please also note the Nomination Form attached to the Agenda.   Should you wish to nominate a member to serve on the committee for the forthcoming year please complete and bring along to the AGM.   Thank you for your co-operation.

 

DOINGS OF OUR MEMBERS

 

·          We have two new proud grandparents, Warwick and Brenda are the grandparents to twin sons, Zachary and Joshua, born in the UK.   Daughter, together with twins, will be landing in RSA on 23 July to stay with the Keating’s.   Brenda can’t wait!

·          Keith and Margaret Ashton’s son and daughter-in-law presented them with a handsome grandson, Luke James.   Talk about proud grandparents!   The camera has not stopped clicking.

Congratulations to all.

·          Merle Brett spent a period in hospital, but we hear that she is once more her old self.

·          Warwick Keating experienced a rather nasty cycle accident which resulted in him being hospitalised in intensive care for a period.   He is now making a slow, but steady recovery.   Both he and Brenda are in our thoughts at this time and thank members for their concern.

·          On the Fish River Canyon trail are Alison Gunning, Theresa Whitfield, Chantel Beattie and Fiona Filmer.   We look forward to hearing all about their adventures on their return.

·          Also trailing in Namibia, this time the Naukluft Trail, are Keith and Margaret Ashton, Peter Wedge, Margret Kirsten and Chris Dobson.   Members can anticipate another good narrative from our Peter.

·          Following the Naukluft Trail the Ashtons will be joining up with the Harpers for a trip into the Richtersveld, West Coast and return via Cape Town and the N1.

If everyone gets writing there should be stacks of interesting news items in future Newsletters.

 

HIKING IN MPUMALANGA                                                                                        Peter ‘PEG’ Wedge

31 March – 9 April 2006

 

Two 3-day hikes had been planned originally on the basis of a back to back format – but fortuitously this was not possible so a 3 day luxury break kind courtesy of Mark and Mary Nellists’ time share points at Waterberry Hill near Hazyview turned out to be most welcome and necessary for the more mature members of the group.

 

Ten stalwarts left various venues on Thursday 30 and Friday 31 March to meet up at Ceylon Hut near Sabie, the start of the first hike – Fanie Botha trail – viz;

- Keith and Margaret Ashton)                            Leaving Thursday 30th and overnight at

  Morris and Noel Harper      )                            Badplaas.            

- Dave Gay and Pooven Naidoo       Mountain Back Packers coming from Durban on

                                                                                31st.

- Mark and Mary Nellist                  )    Travelling from Howick in Mark’s Isuzu on 31/03.

  Theresa Whitfield & Peter Wedge)  

 

All at Ceylon Hut by late afternoon.   This is in the Sappi forest plantation and quite close to Bridal Veil Falls.   The hut was well equipped – electricity, hot showers etc.   All enjoying a good evening meal and the last of cold beers for a while!

 

Peter agreeing to take on the serious task of Firemaster again!  Together with the responsibilities of camp scribe.

 

SATURDAY 1 APRIL

 

Relatively short distance to cover – 9 kms but all ready by 08h00.   Steady climb for about 4 kms with great panoramic views of the general area.   Weather fine and warm to cool.   Lone Creek Falls came up after about 5 kms – several taking the steep decline down to the bottom – about 70 m to join the day trippers.

 

A lot of rain had fallen during the previous 6 weeks or so – all river streams and subsequently waterfalls full and quite spectacular.   Further steady climb to our overnight stop at Maritzbos Hut.

 

Several in the party to a fairly deep pool about 2 kms on the trail for the following day.   Peter and Morris joining all individually later on but unable to find the main group – not realising that the pool was so far up the river.

 

Party of Scouts arriving late afternoon.   Cold showers tonight but again a good fire somewhat hijacked by the Scout group!

 

Fire/braai area interesting arrangement – but very smoky in ‘boma’.

 

All retired by 20h00.   Good first day.

 

SUNDAY 2 APRIL

 

Off by 07h30 through fairly dense rain forest criss-crossing the river umpteen times.   Several people changing boots at such a crossing.   Boot people fine up to last crossing and Peter in – boots and all.   No problem – easy to help people across.   Amazing how quickly your footwear dries out with serious walking.

 

800m climbed in total with 4 hours in the forest, fairly difficult terrain all round.

All somewhat relieved to arrive out of the relative gloom into bright sunshine and then gentle descent to our next overnight stop at Stable Hut.   Majority of party diverting to see Blyde waterfall although we also had a good view from the main track.

 

Samuel, our hut custodian was an innovative character providing his own hot water solution! to otherwise cold showers.

Scout troop already ‘in’ and comfortable.   Samuels Labrador puppy ‘Blackie’ generally taking a big shine to Morris and generally irritating Margaret!

Quite a physical day – 13 kms covered.

 

MONDAY 3 APRIL

 

Shortish distance of about 9 km back to Ceylon Hut today – all down hill descending about 700 m.

Again majority of party detouring to Bridal Veil Falls.   All back at Ceylon Hut by 13h00.

 

Now to Hazyview to restock on some supplies.  Incredible crowds – presumably most from Bushbuck Ridge.   Why so many on a Monday though?

 

Waterberry Hill quite close by – kind courtesy of Mark and Mary.   All ensconced in 3 chalets – very well equipped – DSTV the works!!

 

Afternoon swim in new Olympic size pool and then all to a local restaurant ‘Ant and Elephant’ at night.   Very ethnic and run by a rather quirky lady Samantha (or similar) good food and good to relax as a team after our first hike.

‘Late’ evening for us all (particularly Theresa – yawning her socks off!).

 Back at Waterberry by 22h30.

 

TUESDAY 4 APRIL

 

Lie in today for everyone – luxury!   Peter had a prior arrangement to meet one Mike Hood from White River who had an 80 series Land Cruiser S/W for sale.   A must have toy!   Fairish test drive with Keith, Morris, Margaret and Theresa accompanying Peter.  

Decision in principle to buy – assuming finance availability.   Co-incidentally Mary’s sister Sally came over from Nelspruit and knows Mike Hood.  He is a songwriter but of high integrity Sally says.

 

If he sells you a ‘pup‘ we can break his legs!   Fair enough – but good to know that there are people who are fair and honest (admittedly still to be proven!).

 

Most of the party then on an afternoon short trail (about 5 kms) within Waterberrry Hill estate.   The trail was well laid out – most significant trees numbered as in the National Tree Register with Latin and common names.   Some superb views of the local area from a large rock outcrop.

 

Back to the chalets and a well earned swim followed by a communal braai for the whole team at Mark and Mary’s chalet.    Nice relaxing day for us all.

 

WEDNESDAY 5 APRIL

 

This being our final ‘free’ day – we all decided that the Kruger Park beckoned strongly.   An arrangement to meet for lunch at Tshokwane – about 30 mins from Skukuza – we all went our individual ways although all 4 vehicles passing through the Phabeni  gate around 09h00 to be confronted with an English family – too numerous to mention who were giving the very willing reception/booking officer a bit of a hard time.

 

Amazing how people tend to keep ‘schtum’ however in the queue (growing longer by the minute).

 

Into the Reserve and on the Skukuza road with about an hour to our rendezvous with the rest of the clan.   We were particularly fortunate to see a lioness (spotted by Theresa) about 70m off the road walking very slowly in that way we all associate with the King (or Queen) of beasts.

 

We also saw 2 small elephant herds and a loner bathing in the Sabie river.   Throw in white rhino, ground hornbills , kudu and hippo in the river – not bad for 1 hour and without any really serious viewing.   Into Skukuza – this is now quite a bustling small town in its own right – for a 20 minute break and then on to Tshokwane to meet the rest of the group for a lunch break.   Vervet monkeys irritating Margaret!

 

Back home via Kruger gate big maribou stork by river giving us a baleful stare.   A good day all round for everyone.   Back to Waterberry and a communal braai organised by the complex management.    Huge fire – Peter crestfallen! – no way to top this one.   Very pleasant evening and last night at Waterberry Hill.

 

THURSDAY 6 APRIL

 

Today was the start of our 2nd hike – Blyde Riverspoort Trail – but with a very short first day we had plenty of time to get to our first overnight stop from the start of the trail.

 

From Hazyview to Pilgrims Rest with a short stop in the old town.  This still has a lot of charm with most of the shops retaining their Victorian façade.  The Royal Hotel is a landmark with the décor as it was in its heyday around the turn of the century (20th that is).

 

All meeting for coffee and then to Paradise Hut for the start.   This was a total misnomer.  Alcatraz would have been more appropriate.

 

There wasn’t anyone on duty – although some evidence of a caretaker’s presence at the back.   The building was in very poor shape. 

Decision taken by all 4 drivers to take the vehicles to the end of the trail – old Mine    Hut at Bourkes Luck Potholes and hopefully get a taxi back – about 35 kms in total.

 

Whilst the drivers were away – a young German couple arrived and after a brief introduction and search for the start of the trail – not at all clear by any means – they got away by around 14h30.

 

Drivers back shortly afterwards and then on our way.   This was a very short 4 km – actually nearer 5 although the trail blurb said 3!

 

Arrival at our overnight stop – Watervalspruit Hut - we called this C. Max.   It had a look of a prison cell arrangement.   Not too bad inside but toilets grotty and the dorms not really clean.

 

The site itself could be delightful if the grass had been cut.   However not to winge too much.   A guy appeared suddenly with a barrow load full of firewood.   (Presumably the caretaker).   Peter immediately engrossed again.   Whilst majority of party to a waterfall and pool close by.   Noel losing her watch (and finding it again).   Theresa leaving her cellphone at the pool (and retrieving it later).    Murphy thwarted on this occasion!

A pleasant evening meal and fire retiring as usual around 20h00.

 

 

FRIDAY 7 APRIL

 

Relatively long hike today of about 14 kms so off by 07h30.   Some spectacular vistas en route today.   Some climbing but also some nice flat areas to put a spurt on.   Good to be able to stride out a bit for a change.   Lunch by River Treuw (a tributary of the Blyde River).   Some souls braving the water again and then Clearstream Hut (we named this Stalig 17).   Again an unfortunate likeness to a prison street but slightly cleaner although the bog leaked.    Two bats had taken residence in the shower room and took a shine to Theresa (Shrieks from cell No 2!).

 

A superb swimming pool close by on the river – fast flowing but very refreshing, very deep – probably 7 to 8 metres and at least 20m wide.

 

Two attendants and a fair stock of wood but what do these chaps do all day!

 

Some stargazing after the evening meal.   Quite magnificent in these parts with no urban light pollution.

 

SATURDAY 8 APRIL

 

Last day of the hike but longest so off again by 07h30.   Lots of prospecting claims in the area (gold rush c 1900).   You can picture the scene with dozens of camps and miners panning for the yellow stuff.   Presumably some still around if you have the time and inclination.

 

We saw an old miners hut near one of the waterfalls en route.   The rivers had been in full flood earlier in the year with debris at least 3 – 4m above the existing river level which was running quite strongly anyway.

 

Lots of termite mounds around – fast pace through open veldt to Bourkes’ Luck Potholes – hundreds of tourists and then the old Mine Hut with our last overnight stop.

 

All wanting a hot shower but again water supply playing up and ladies bog overflowing.   We managed to get water and a call to the Mpumulanga people in Bourkes Luck resulted in 2 guys coming out to further consolidate our efforts.

Nice accommodation which could have been so much better with a bit of effort by the relevant authorities.

 

Generally, the trail was spectacular marred unfortunately by poor management of the                   facilities.   Could be so much better.   Perhaps a not too polite letter from MHC might be in order!

 

Good fire, alcohol (at last) and a latish night (Theresa coped quite well!) made for a nice convivial end to the trail.

 

SUNDAY 9 APRIL

 

Dave and Pooven off early – around 05h30 – the rest of the party having an earlyish breakfast and all away by 07h30.

 

Keith and Margaret were to spend the next 3 days camping at Ithala Game Reserve in Northern KZN – Morris and Noel considering a visit to their nephew in Nelspruit.   Mark,  Mary, Theresa and Peter back home via Dullstroom and then the N4 skirting Witbank and onto the N3 – back in Howick around 16h00.

 

SUMMARY

 

A great 10 days with some superb scenery and great company.   Most of the party had hiked together before but good to have new people with us in the shape of Dave and Pooven.

 

The 3 day break in between the 2 hikes was a real bonus and afforded a mini break in Kruger and surrounding area.  At the price we paid for the privilege this was a steal.   Many thanks to Mark and Mary for this.

 

Another very well organised 10 days by Keith – this was really a training exercise for his 2nd Grand Traverse about 1 week later – most of us quite happy to have accomplished the 2 trails relatively unscathed.   Thanks to Keith (and Margaret for her unwavering support for all of us) and to all members of the team.   Great company, great experience.   Can’t wait for the next one.

 

P G Wedge


 

 

BUSHMANSNEK HIKE                                                                                        Margret Kirsten

26/17/18 June 2006

 

Leader: Graham Cullinan.   Participants: Keith & Margaret Ashton, Graham Dean, Brian and Richard Henwood, Chris Dobson and Margret Kirsten.

 

Route:  Bushmansnek to Lammegeyer Cave, traverse below the Knuckles to Tarn Cave and back to Bushmansnek.

Being mid winter, we made a very chilly start, with some frost on the grass.   A comfortable pace warmed us up and also the sun gained strength and promised a most perfect day for hiking.

After about 5 - 6km, Chris was not feeling too great.  He had mentioned this at the start, but hoped that it would be nothing, unfortunately it got worse so he decided to go back.

We carried on, but shortly afterwards, we thought that it was wrong to send, a not well person, back on his own.   It was logical that I go back since we had travelled together and were the only ones from Hillcrest.

On our return to Bushmansnek (we had to stop no less than 10 times),  we asked permission to stay in the hiking hut, in the hope that we would be able to go to Tarn Cave the following day.

Meanwhile the remaining 6 made their way up to Lammegeyer Cave, which was windy and cold, whilst we enjoyed the "luxury" of the end of the Giants cup Hiking Trail Hut.

After dinner an early night was called for.    Amazingly enough not a word was spoken from 18h00 till 07h00 the next morning,   I slept through everything whilst Chris was having a troublesome time.

Nevertheless when I woke in the morning, the door was wide open and water for coffee on the stove, what more could a woman want??  Than coffee in bed?

And.......Chris was feeling a lot better and said; "We are going to Tarn Cave"   He  SMS'd  Brian, so the others would know our intentions.

The weather was fairly overcast and an icy wind was blowing.  The going was good and we hoped our 6 fellow members were also making good progress up to the path that lead them to the traverse, just below the Knuckles.  From experience I know it can be quite demanding, as the path is non existent in most places, over and above,  I could see that they would have to traverse some very icy gullies.

Meanwhile we made our way up Bushmans pass, occasionally meeting Basutoes on horseback.

Just below the top of the pass we decided to have our lunch when about 10 horses and only 4-5 basutoes suddenly came over the pass, luckily we had not yet sat down or we would have been bulldozed over by the horses.

Although fairly sheltered from the wind we did not stay for long and continued.  Shortly thereafter Chris started feeling bad again and realized that it might have been the sandwich which was his problem.  Funnily enough, I noticed him smelling the sandwich at lunchtime, anyway, some quick discarding of it, and the crows got the rest.

So  ....  we may not see anymore crows in that area again!!

After further inquiry, it came from P+P,  DON'T buy ready made sandwiches and take them on a hike!

We reached the cave at 14h00 and searched the hills for our fellow hikers, who eventually arrived at 15h00 after a quite demanding day but happy that we had joined them again.

The sandwich story had to be told all over again and was the joke of the rest of the trip.

We had a lovely evening together but, boy oh boy,  what a noisy night.  Snoring from all directions, like a chorus, it went on and on.   I was glad having had a good night’s sleep the previous night!  No one owned up to all this noise?????   Of course!!

The following morning was too beautiful, clear sky and sun and more sun, everyone enjoyed the warmth of the sun and the going mainly downhill.   Lunch was had at Cedric's pool, but.....no sandwiches for Chris, he was begging and received "FRESH" food from all of us, we could not let him starve....

Some less and some more tired bodies reached Bushmansnek, where we said adieus and thanks to all for a wonderful trip.    Special thanks to Graham for his organinsation.