Highmoor Nature Reserve, Central uKhahlamba Drakensberg
7 - 8 March 2020
Report and photos by Dave Sclanders, additional photos courtesy of Kostya Zloschastiev
[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]
Anyway, taking a chance on the weather this night hike was planned for 7 March. The response was fantastic, but at the end numbers were down due to many problems. The hikers arrived during Saturday , and we spent a great day putting up tents, chatting and generally relaxing, the weather forecast was good. Supper at 17h00, and by 17h45 we started to gather for the start of the hike. The moon was up, but a bit feint , but grew bolder and bolder as the night darkened
Walking on into the darkness, the sunset was all one could wish for. The Giant was resting his head on a pillow of soft fluffy white cloud, with a dramatic sunset behind him.
The moon got brighter and brighter, but with my camera on full telephoto trying to get a steady picture without a tripod was not on, too much shake,
Reaching our destination, where we would sit out in the moonlight mountain, away from one another to contemplate "whatever in silence and isolation" was another great experience for all present. Later he tripped back to the camp for hot coffee, some to a hot shower, and into cool sleeping bags for most. The night was cold, very cold, and some were not warm enough, so the night was long. (Just a tip, if you are camping and your car is going to be parked right next to you, throw in some extra warmth, no one is carrying it )
Sunday was a brilliant morning, and many were up bright and Early to just get out of their cold sleeping positions. One of our eagle eyed party was very lucky to spot a Drakensberg Dwarf Chameleon on the grass next to ablutions, it was soon put in the safety of a nearby tree. These are rare little animals, and one must wonder where it came from , and where was it going.?
Pick 12 –Look hard!!
After breakfast we set off to retrace our steps of the previous night. Highmoor by its very name says that it is high, and between Highmoor and its neighbor's there are huge valleys and great scenery. From the top of the Giants Castle massive way bac k to the Lowlands pointing to the coast.
Still on our way to the West, and out of the green rolling hills and vleis of Highmoor, a dark animal moved swiftly in the grass lands heading the way we were going. Binoculared hikers were astonished to see that it was a BLACK WILDEBEEST , where it came from is unknown. (I have hiked many years at Highmoor and not seen this species here before) . It ran around us to our left, and disappeared over the rise, not to be seen again. We had experienced a double bonus this week end, really wonderful.
On reaching our designated spot, time was taken to sit and admire the view, and have some refreshment. By now the temperature was up, and the day was getting very uncomfortable.
Pic 19 - Brollies make shade, smart hiker, another smart hiker also put his brolly up later.
Pics 20 , 21, 22. Valley and mountain views
My plan was now to head for Aasvoelskranz for lunch as a number of our group had been there before. The route was into "nowhere land", round behind the old radio tower, walking across a steep slope towards the cave. That was a bad decision, the temperature rose, the slope took its toll on the hikers, and worst of all it slowed our time management down, not a good move at all.
Aasvoelskranz is set in a very steep valley, and as long as I can remember the path has been steep and difficult in places, but since my last visit some years ago a new path has been constructed , but the bottom is still very treacherous. One must wonder for how long this popular cave will continue to be visited by overnight hikers.
A group of tired hikers eventually climbed out of the valley and made their weary way back to the cars to break camp and head home. Saturday night had been a great adventure, Sunday a great test of endurance. Passing the last waterfall on the way home, the beauty of the moment was probably lost on a number of us.
To the hikers, to one and all of , congratulations on getting home on Sunday afternoon. Mountain weather is always challenging, freeze at night, burn during the day.
Winter is coming, if you are out in nature, go prepared, have warm back up clothes in the car, and maybe a spare chocolate or 2. The grass is drying off, make sure NO fires are lit in open spaces.
Nature is all we have to keep our planet in balance, keep our natural areas clean.
AGAIN A PLEA TO ALL BERG HIKERS - PLEASE FILL IN THE MOUNTAIN WALKING REGISTER PROPERLY AND ACCURATELY,AND GET THE EMERGENCY NUMBER OF THE OFFICE FROM WHICH YOU LEAVE. "IT IS IN YOUR BEST INTEREST AT ALL TIMES".
Don't see it as a nuisance, see it as your insurance in a time of emergency
ADDITIONAL PHOTOS COURTESY OF KOSTYA ZLOSCHASTIEV