WONDER VALLEY CAVE WEEKEND - 18-19 MARCH 2017 - LEADER KEITH ASHTON


Report and photos courtesy of Keith Ashton

[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]



We have done this hike many times but it is always rewarding to do it again, especially with beautiful weather, even though a bit hot for backpacking. Its always a popular venue, so even with several cancellations for various genuine reasons, our group of 9 met at Injasuti early on Saturday morning. Our participants were Tish Bryson, Shane Shane O'Brian, Daryll Jacobs, Andy & Marlise Pepperell, Steve & Lynda Verreynne, Margaret & Keith Ashton.

After the formalities we were on our way, first crossing the Del mhlwazini River en-route upwards towards Van Heyningen's Pass with stunning views of Champagne Castle, Monks Cowl & Cathkin Peak in the distance. After a couple of kilometres we reached the bottom of Van Heyningen's pass for some welcome shade, following which we climbed up the snaking route through the lovely indigenous forest, getting hotter & hotter as we climbed but soon we were able to cool-off during our stream crossings. Eventually we reached the top of the pass where we stopped for a rest & lunch. From this point it is only about 100 metres to a view point above this escarpment, looking down into the valley below & onto Injasuti camp.


1. Crossing the bridge over the Del mhlwazini River
2. On our way up towards Van Heyningen's Pass
3. First rest as we climb Van Heyningen's Pass
4. Spot the head as we continue up the pass
5. Marlise, Andy & Margaret still climbing through thick vegetation
6. Margaret nearing the top of Van Heyningen's Pass
7. Daryll & Andy admiring the view from Van Heyningen's Promontory cairn
8. Looking down from the top of the pass
9. From the left, Champagne Castle, Monks Cowl, Cathkin Peak, Sterkhorn, Turret & Amphletts

After lunch there was more climbing to do, but soon as a reward, magnificent views were enjoyed of Champagne Castle, Monks Cowl, Cathkin Peak, Sterkhorn (Mount Memory), Turret & Amphletts. The scenic route then levelled out & before long we started our descent towards Wonder Valley Cave, eventually reaching the cave for a short rest & to sort out our sleeping spots.

After a rest we were enticed to descend to the magnificent pool & waterfall for a nice swim to cool-off - In any case this is the spot where we fill our water bottles, hydration bladders or ex-wine bags from box-wine to last us for the rest of the day, through the night & the following morning. After a lovely swim some of us did a bit of exploring up the valley beyond the pool to another waterfall & then climbed higher to make our way back to another cave which I call Wonder Valley Cave Annexe, as there is room for at least 6 people to sleep in it if desired. Then it was back down to the pool to collect our water bottles before our steep climb back up to Wonder Valley Cave where we prepared our sleeping spots for the night, then it was socialising time & drinks before supper.


10. After the climbing we now descend towards Wonder Valley
11. Just past & far below the cave is this beautiful pool
12. The tiny hiker descending to the pool
13. Lynda, Margaret & Steve cooling off in the pool
14. Lynda & Steve as we explore the area about a km from the cave
15. The lovely waterfall about a km from the cave
16. Steve & Shane climbing down from another cave in the area
17. Back at the pool Shane, Tish, Daryll & Steve


18. Settling down in Wonder Valley Cave
19. Margaret relaxing with a cup of coffee
20. This is the life in a cave say Marlise, Andy & Daryll
21. Lynda, Steve, Tish & Shane looking very happy in the cave
22. The view of Champagne Castle, Monks Cowl & Cathkin Peak from the cave
23. Another view from the cave as the sun starts to set

Sleep time is early in caves with the prospect of a good long rest during the night, but what a delight the following morning when the sun starts to rise & beautiful views appear. This Sunday morning was no exception with the beautiful early morning view of Champagne Castle, Monks Cowl, Cathkin Peak & Sterkhorn directly from our sleeping spots in the cave, encouraging us to start making breakfast.

After breakfast we soon packed up & started the day with a climb out of Wonder Valley with glorious views all around. We retraced our route for part of the return but deviated along an escarpment with interesting rock formations & excellent views down to the valleys below. After a brief rest stop to take in more of the magnificent scenery we returned down Van Heyningen's Pass to Injasuti Camp & the attached photos illustrate the very enjoyable weekend better than words.

Thanks to all our participants for sharing another precious weekend.

Keith


24. A delicate spiders web on our way back on Sun morn.
25. On our way back to camp on Sun morn.
26. Descending not far from Shada Ridge
27. Stunning views as we take an escarpment route back
28. Marlise in a precarious position as Steve looks on
29. Looking down on Injasuti Camp far below


30. Carrying on a bit off the beaten track just before Sun lunch spot
31. Making our way down towards Van Heyningen's Pass
32. Still stunning views
33. Looking down towards the pass - see the minute figures just above the pass
34. Nearing the end of our hike close to camp

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