Giants Castle – Langalibalele Pass
25-26 November 2006
Saturday the 25th November saw 8 of us (Keith, Margaret, Allison, Chantel, Jenny, Lisa, Gerad), meeting at Giants Castle gate – a wet , misty and overcast cold morning. We were heading for Bannerman’s hut, where we would overnight , then head along the contour path to Langalibalele ridge , up the pass to the Carbineers Memorial Cross , and back down again to Giants Main camp later on Sunday afternoon. The weather proved to be as bad as promised , mist , wet and cold. So with that in mind , we put our best foot forward and headed straight for Bannerman’s at full speed – no lunch break !!!!!
We arrived at the hut in record time , wet cold and hungry . Wet clothes were changed for dry ones , and the hut soon looked like a laundry with wet clothes hanging from all available hanging space . Lunch was had as soon as we had changed ,then some had an afternoon sleep , others played cards and chatted away the afternoon. All agreed that the hut was a much better bet than a cave or tent in such conditions. Then soon it was time for supper by candlelight.
As the water system in the hut was not working ????!!!! , so the indoor toilet was out of action . Sooner or later some needed to take to the outdoors to talk with nature. Not a very pleasant task in the rain – everything gets wet. Some brave souls geared themselves up , and put on a brave face to go out into the elements. Others held back until there was no more holding back – it rained and rained. Then at the last minute , armed with a shining spade, put on the RED fighting cape and headed out into the dark , wet, rainy night, where the long grass was lying bent with water and cold, and waiting for him to ……..
Sunday morning showed promise of a good day , so we packed , had breakfast and left early for Langie’s Pass. With the heavy rain during the night , some of the little stream we had hardly noticed the day before , had risen considerably , and a helping hand was needed to cross at places. Later our hopes for a good day faded as the mist settled back down onto us , fortunately however , the slight rain was absent , so it made for a cool hike , but with limited visibility .When we reached the waterfall at the base of the pass, the mist was still thick , and one wondered – if we climbed the pass , would we see anything on the top ???
Two of the party decided not to go up to the top, so we left them with our big hiking packs, and armed with lighter day packs with lunch and rain gear we headed up the pass. The mist was thick , the going was easy as one could not see how high you had to climb . Up and up we went , all in a misty grey fog of damp air. Then as we were somewhere near the top , the mist started to thin , and we saw the tops of the mountain glistening in the thin mist above us. Looking back down , a wall of mist hid the valley below . Soon we broke through the mist into a totally different world, blue sky , incredible flowers , and the top of the pass just above us – or something like that. We pushed on , and on getting to the summit we looked back across a white sea of cloud that covered the whole land for as far as one could see , and on the right , the “Giant” of Giants Castle lying on a white mist of cloud.
We soon were at the cairn of the Carbineers Memorial, for my hiking companions this was the first time they had been to this place. A battle site that happened 30 October 1973 – known as the Langalibalele Rebellion that took place at the top of this pass , now called Langalibalele Pass. Lunch was had here , a good look at the site and scenery was enjoyed , with the incredible view of a vast sea of white cloud below . It was time to start the long trek down the mountain to meet up with the others of our party at the waterfall , pick up our backpacks , and keep on dropping down the mountain ridges until we reached Giants camp below , a drop of some 1200 meters and some 12 kilometers away.
To the hikers from the Midlands Hiking Club , well done to you all , and thanks for a good week end ( for more info about the Midlands Hiking Club – based in Howick , KZN , visit www.gohiking.co.za ) As a gentle reminder make sure that your footwear is suitable for the conditions , and your feet