8 - 9 November 2014
Report & photos courtesy of Dave Sclanders
[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]
Pic - 2 Leaving the hutted camp site , no views of The Monk today
Pic 3-9 - Winding up Van Heyningen s Pass
Pic 10 From the buttress at the top of the pass, looking down onto the campsite far below.
After a short rest at the top, we decided to push on to the cave, the weather had cleared a bit, but we were still expecting rain to catch bus while we were still walking. As we climbed higher, the weather cleared, and coming down the path towards us was another party that had spent Friday evening in the cave. As they say, the world is a small place, their leader, recognized our leader s Yorkshire accent, and pinned the accent down to the village of Preston, both came from the same town. Quite remarkable.
Pic 11 From the buttress at the top of the pass, looking down onto the campsite far below
On reaching the Wonder Valley Cave, we dropped our packs, grabbed our larger 5lt water containers and went down to the river to fetch water. From the cave it is a long steep, slippery path down to the water. Coming up, with the 5kg of water in the hand is quite a proposition. The views from the top of the path, down to the lower waterfall where water is collected, and one can enjoy a real cool skinny dip, to the top of the cliff where another waterfall drops into the valley are great.
Pic 12 Wonder Valley Cave Sandstone cliffs
Pics 13-16 the valley and the water point , and dipping pool.
Pics 17-19 - The higher waterfall on the top of the valley
There is another cave , high up in the cliff face to the left of the higher waterfall, however, it would sleep only a few people, it would be quite a challenge to get up there with a heavy backpack, but the views from the cave down the valley are lovely.
Pic - 20 The upper cave
Pic 21 View from the cave down the valley
On the way back to the our cave, we passed a lily type plant, whose leaves were in the shape of a wide funnel/cup, and water from the recent rains had filled the cups with liquid.
Pic 22- Water in the plant leave cups.
Back at the cave it was time to sort out cave priorities, a good cup of tea, and a great time for mountain stories. The high berg to our west was still covered with mist, but later the high peaks of Champagne, Monk s and Cathkin started to break through, sharp , mysterious , and mystical.
Pics 23-25 Cave life.
Pic 26 The high escarpment in the west.
During the night, the sky cleared, and a full moon shone brightly into the cave. The brightness of the moon flooded all start visibility out. At 02h00, I had to check the weather, and some clouds were floating around the moon, at one stage all sorts of images were made by the clouds around the clouds. Then a bit later, the sky was clear of all but the moon.
Pic - 27 Could that be Rudolf with a shiny nose ???
Pic 28 - Just the moon.!!!!!!
At sunrise 05h00, the early rays of the sun touched the now very clear mountain peaks, and the massive was bathed in an orange glow, which soon turned lighter and lighter to the normal blue/green of the berg. A most spectacular sight, and worth all the effort to get there to witness it.
Pic - 29-33 Berg colours from early till later.
After such an early rise, it was natural that breakfast would be early, and naturally we would pack early, and start our homeward trek earlier than normal. This did offer us the opportunity to do a bit of a deviation from the normal way home, and climb a nearby hill, where one can see the length of the berg, from the Devil s Tooth at the Amphitheatre in the north, all the way to Giant s Castle in the Central berg. Quite a sight, and one that only a handful of people see as other hikers do not always go the extra climb to see this sight.
Pics 34-38 An unforgettable early morning at Injisuthi
Pic 39 - Walking on a bed of white and pink flowers.
Pic 40 - Devil s Tooth far away at the Amphitheatre
Pic 41 Giant s Castle massive, where the Drakensberg turns to the south.
From the ridge we dropped down onto the Shada Ridge Path, and headed back towards the pass. From this side of the ridge, one looks down into the great valley of the Delmhlwazini river, then on the other side, up the mighty Injisuthi Valley . A rest stop for an early snack at the top of Shada Ridge, before we started down the pass, was welcomed. Down below us the hutted camp site was clearly visible.
Pic 42 looking up the Injisuthi Valley to Centenary hut area.
Pic 43 Early tea break
Pic 44 Injisuthi Camp site
Then it was the long trundle back home. A slippery path on wet rocks enforced a go carefully attitude. Refreshing cold water was again enjoyed from the clear stream. As we dropped lower the high sandstone cliff towers that support the high areas stood there stark and precipitous. Near the bottom of the valley, we looked up for the last time on to the high berg above, and realized how lucky we had been with the weather. Then just before the camp, one walks through an old pine forest that was cut down years ago, and the wet , decaying bark of the olds pine trees made very pretty patterns on the tree trunks.
Pics - 45-46 refreshment time .
Pic 47 High Sandstone Cliffs
Pic 48 high above stands a great mountain range
Pic 49 pine colours
The flowers were starting to come out, and over the burnt areas masses of growing plants were pushing through the wet soil.
Pics 50 59 - Flower time !!!