Another Amazing Ashton Adventure...
A recci to Fun Cave from Sweetwaters Cottage - 28-29 June 2010.........rose dix
If Id known what was in store for these old legs, I would have stayed in my flat, lying in bed and watching the sunrise....
What an adventure we had...
Keith, Margaret, Max and I set off on a beautifully warm winter morning to find FUN CAVE and up to about 10ks it certainly was FUN - Breathtaking scenery, warm sunshine, sparkling river....
Our Keith had twisted his ankle the previous night, but that didnt stop him forging ahead - GPS in hand - to co-ordinate the co-ordinates so that we could loll around in the cave and admire the sunset....well thats how it is supposed to work out isnt it?
It didnt ...
The last few Ks took hours to negotiate - multiple river crossings - thick bamboo and scrub bushes blocking the badly defined paths. By now I was thinking "I CANT DO THIS -I CANT DO THIS -I CANT DO THIS". About 2 km before Fun & Verkyker Caves we actually walked through Mzimkhulu Cave which is right on the upper reaches of the Mzimkhulu River (there was evidence of Dagga smugglers previous presence in this cave).
At last we saw Keiths jubilantly famous THUMBS UP and managed the last vertical clamber up to VERKYKER CAVE. At this point, there was rebellion in the ranks (Margaret and I) and we flatly refused to go across the river to FUN CAVE. However we needed water, so Max & Keith went down to the river with their 5 litre water bags & whilst down there fully checked out Fun Cave - Keith took his usual photos & confirmed that Verkyker Cave was more sheltered with a much greater overhang, so we had made the correct decision about which cave to sleep in. (But Verkyker is only really suitable for 4 people - Fun cave can sleep up to 12 at a push).
As soon as we had laid out our sleeping bags, dark descended and we were soon tucked up, sipping our lethal brews and agreeing with Keiths "THIS IS THE LIFE:"..
. not for long....
...at 9pm a gale force wind hit us, sending Keiths glasses and headlamp flying into the bushes along with everything else that was not battened down. Max was leaping around in the dark trying to salvage our food and stoves. After a very long exhausting night, the sound of Keiths pre-dawn alarm was warmly welcomed. Packing up was indeed an interesting experience as the wind kept tugging at everything we tried to stuff in our backpacks. The descent from the cave was slow and cautious as the wind was still howling - we hadnt been able to attend to our usual ablutions for fear of being knocked over, so a rather grubby group made our way back to Keith & Margaret's Cottage. Keith recorded the distance from the cottage to Fun & Verkyker Caves as 14.3 km.
With the immortal words of Dave S ringing in my ears ('Any fool can be cold in the Berg') I splurged on Down Jacket and Thermal Inner which gave me a toasty night ..... - both items are now for sale as that was MY LAST CAVE..
What a fabulous weekend - Johns writeup of the weekend at Keiths Cottage is attached. Thank you Keith and Margaret for your wonderful hospitality.
Keiths illustrative photos follow - again, our grateful thanks to Rod for our super website.
27. Margaret, Max & Rose ready to backpack from cottage to Fun Cave
28. To Fun Cave - Margaret waits for Max & Rose to catch up.
29. Time for lunch en-route to Fun Cave
30. Climb after lunch - Margaret with her Amarula in hand
31. Fantastic pool en-route - now about 10km from cottage
32. Max & Rose still climbing
33. Rough terrain in upper reaches of the Mzimkhulu river
34. Admiring the indigenous forest - upper reaches of Mzimkhhulu river
35. Lovely indigenous forest
36. Close-up of indigenous forest
37. Still making our way up.
38. Margaret & Rose getting thirsty
39. Fantastic rock formations en-route to Fun Cave
40. Beating our way through thick bush
41. How about this route in a summer thunderstorm - don't try!
42. Margaret, Rose & Max wondering if I am still going to the river
43. Rough but beautiful route
44. Still climbing but Margaret has time for more Amarula
45. How far now was the question
46. Still rugged scenery en-route to Fun Cave
47. Rose thinking - what am I doing here
48. Are we nearly there?
49. Margaret anticipating that the cave must be close now
50. Beautiful pool & waterfall close to Fun & Verkyker Caves
51. Final climb to Verkyer Cave with Fun Cave opposite
52. View inside Fun Cave
53. View of Verkyker Cave from Fun Cave
54. Sleeping spot in Fun Cave
55. Dining spot in Fun Cave
56. Getting ready for bed in Verkyker Cave
57. Margaret & Rose tucked in their sleeping bags whilst Max prepares his spot
58. Margaret making her way back from Verkyker Cave
59. Besides the howling gale, it is freezing so lets get going
60. Last view of Fun Cave as we make our way back
61. Early morning fantastic scenery as we return
62. Max & Rose take-in some of that howling air
63. Still rugged scenery
64. Early morning sunshine as Rose & Max enter the shade
65. Beautiful water features as we enter the ravine
66. Along the river bed as we approach Mzimkhulu Cave on returning
67. Mzimkhulu Cave - now only about 12 km back to the cottage