Midlands Hiking Club
26 – 27 February 2011
Pictures and story by Dave Sclanders
A group of 10 hikers from MHC & MBP clubs met at Kamberg to hike to Sinclair’s Cave. This was to be an exploration hike as I was looking for a new route to get to the cave. Exploration hikes can be hard as one does not know where one is going to walk, or what the terrain may hold. However, I had done a brief recce some time ago, and knew roughly where to head for.
Not far from the Kamberg office we came across 2 magnificent eland on the side of the hill. They were totally unconcerned about our presence so close to them. We were following old Game Tracksthat climbed and traversed steadily up the side of the mountain. We stopped for our first rest at the base of a very steep rocky hill.
Following old eland tracks through tall and tuscotty grass, where the tracks appeared and disappeared made going rather difficult on the ankles and feet.. the scenery was great as it was the first time the hikers had been this way . Eventually we could see the stream on which I had planned to have lunch cutting through the valley far below.
Lunch was a bit rushed as it looked as if the weather was heading for rain. However , there was time to sit by the stream for a while and contemplate the mornings hike.
After lunch we started at a higher pace to get to the cave as soon as possible. Down in the valley, the unmistakable shape of Kamberg Hill came into view. It was from the naming of this hill that the area got its name. . After a steep pull, we regrouped to catch our breath, and get the party together again and have a last look back along the way we had come, before picking up the pace to our cave. Cresting the last climb, heavy storm clouds built up around us, however the cave was not far away, so we were not too phased by the weather build up.
The cave has a fairly large area that can get wet under severe rain conditions, and this part of the berg had had rain for the preceding 4 nights. However, I had thought this might be the case, so a number of hikers had brought tents with them , and on seeing the damp sleeping areas, decided to put up their tents. So while the ladies who were to sleep in the dry area of the cave sorted their lives out, the tenters put up their tents.
The weather seemed to clear up, so a few of us decided to explore the area. Around, and behind the one ridge is a wind and weather sandstone carving of a Roman Legionnaires head. I have often wondered what he was “looking” for out here in “nowhere land” . Then we saw it, down below him was his one “Veldskoen” ( Bush shoe). I have been here many times, but with today’s light, and where we stood, it was the first time that I had seen the shoe. One day I must tell him where his shoe is.
Nature does have a way of making images appear and disappear depending on the light and angle of refraction.
Then it was “up the hill” to see as far as you could. – From Giants Castle , down to Hodgson’s peaks – a long way of beautiful mountain scenery.
Back at the cave, supper was being prepared , luckily water was “nearly on tap”
Early next morning I went up the hill, however the sunrise was a bit drab, the high point in the berg known as The Tent at Lotheni was visible from my position. The tenters were still warm in their tents , and the early signs of Autumn shades was visible in the grasslands beyond the tents.
Some of the tenters moved their damp tents to higher ground into the sunshine to try to get the tents to dry out a bit.
An early morning person welcomes the new day with some yoga exercises.
Down in the valley, Kamberg Hill still rested on great white cloud pillows.
Then it was to set our backpacks and head for the cars. The morning was bright and clear, and the views of the Drakensberg were great. I tried to find a new route back, however, due to the nature of the valleys and hiils, this was not possible , but we did find a new valley that would ultimately lead us to the main path. It was steep going in places, and again we relied on game tracks to get us along the way.
One of the highlights of the week end was a close sighting of a porcupine across the valley from us. These animals abound in the berg but are nocturnal , so one does not get to see them often. The porcupine ran under a rock before I could get a picture. An exciting sighting never the less.
Sparkling streams, pools and waterfalls abound at this time of the year. This waterfall seemed to “give us a STAR” for finding a great new hiking route into this part of the berg.
Good weather, an exciting new route, and a relatively easy hike made this a week end to remember.
For another view of this area , see www.bergfree.co.za, click on NEWSLETTERS, and click on Newsletter 36 - Snowy Kamberg