MHC - Cobham
Tenting week end
uKhahlamba Drakensberg
Southern Drakensberg
27 - 28 September 2014

Report and photos courtesy of Dave Sclanders
[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULL SIZE]



MHC leader Brian Henderson organized a week end of hiking from the Cobham campsite near Himeville in the southern berg. We were all to meet at the campsite to be ready to hike at 08h30. Some had opted to book in at the Polelea hut – for hot showers and more comfort. Others opted to tenting , with cold showers and less comfort. The YR weather forecast was for a not so dry week end, with showers from midday Saturday through to Sunday.

Anyway 21 hikers , some new, some old , and some very old. Met happily at Cobham, and just after the appointed time, we left, Brian in the lead, and the rest tagging along. The first point of interest was the crossing of the Polela River, just below the camp. This crossing was a high level , hang bridge, but now was under reconstruction, with no bridge and maybe some hanging if one tried to cross along a few high level wires.. We crossed easily via rocks over the shallow river. Let’s hope the bridge is fixed by the time the rains settle in and make turn this stream into a raging river.



Pic 2 – 3 crossing the stream
Pic 4 The new hang bridge under construction.

Out route was to walk to Ingenwa Pools via the Giants Cup Trail, have lunch and a swim at the pools, and come home. The walking pace was pleasant, with plenty of stops to check the view, have a sandwich, and loiter on. The weather was not that clear, with a haze hiding the distant features, and a grey cloud mass coming in from the South.



Pic 5 – 7 the start of the walk is easy going, nice pool and waterfall, with a gentle climb up to the rock formation where the path does a short steep ascent through the Sandstone rocks.
Pic 8 – 13 The climb trough the rocks, brought us through a protected grove of natural vegetation, and then a short steep pull onto the top of the rock barrier.
Pic 8 – 10 start of the rock climb
Pic 11 – 12 Through the protected tree grove
Pic 13 1rst tea break , looking down from the top of the rock climb

The weather forecast had suggested that the rain would start at 11h00, at 10h50 there was a rumble of thunder , and a few drops of rain , and that was that. Later at a high point the group came together again , and we could see the new tarred road that runs from Himeville, past the Sani Pass hotel and onwards to the Sani border post.



Pic 14 - First drops of rain , then clear
Pic 15 Sani Pass road in the lower distance

The path now started to drop quite steeply, before the last fast steep drop down into the valley , where lunch and a swim were to happen. On the way the first Watsonia’s showed a splash of orange colour amongst the rocks.



Pic 16 – 17 Giants Cup and Sani Pass in the far background
Pic 18 Watsonias showing a splash of orange amongst the brown grass.

The group went down to have lunch and swim , however I felt that the climb might be a bit much for me at this time, so stayed on the top of the drop, and waited with 2 friendly faces until the valley group returned.

Once we all met up again , we had hardly started the homeward treck when the drizzle started, and the mist came down and curled around us, cutting our visibility to a few meters.



Pics 19 - 22 Misty, wet homeward trek.

Back at the camp, the group split up – each to their own accommodation, each hoping for a hot shower as by now the cold temperature and dampness had started to creep into wet clothes and tired bones. The brief was to warm up , and meet at the hut for a braai at 18h00.

Well, some had warm showers, some lucky ones had hot showers, and the rest, the vast majority had to do with cold showers. The drizzle increased in intensity, and the temperature dropped some more. So the braai was well attended until the meat was cooked, the party split, some joined in with those who had booked into the hut , rest crept off to their tents



Pics 23 – 26 Love to braai in the rain !!!!!

It drizzled on and off all night, and morning came with a cold, wet, misty, rather miserable day. It was decided as the mist was so view barring that the old baboon head on the nearby hill could just be noticed , that it would make more sense to call it a week end, and go home early.



Pic 27 Old Baboon Head

A walk around the camp site gave some insight to some of our members camping styles



Pic 28 Posh
Pic 29 - Quite Posh
Pic 30 – 31 Not so posh , !!!!

(Pic 32 - 33) Then the “Not so posh” owner took umbrage at me , and wanted to attack me with her “STRAP”. Fortunately a very active bystander managed to hold her back !!! . So much for the temperaments of the “Not so Posh”

All in all a very enjoyable week end ???? half week end ?????? Thanks to Brian for organizing it.

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As we now move into the hot and wet months, it becomes important to constantly watch the weather forecasts. There are a number of sites that give quite good 7 day forecasts. Use them for guidance when planning your hike. Always have the right gear, especially if camping out, summer can still produce very cold patches , and with wet, can cause major hiking problems – even for a day walk. It is very important to be flexible with your planned route, and very necessary to have a plan B, or alternate route.

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I have 4 basic points for my hiking philosophy

1. All get back safely
2. All get back as friends
3. Enjoy the experience
4. Do the planned hike.

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