Saturday 26th May

There were perhaps too many other events on this weekend and perhaps this hike was scheduled too soon after the Vergezient hike two weekends before. The result was that we were a very select party of 6, comprising Margaret & Keith Ashton, Preema and Seymour Nyker, and Lorraine and myself. We were welcomed by our very friendly hosts, Zetta-Marie and Chris Theunissen who accompanied us for the first 20 minutes to point out the best way to go. The accommodation is excellent with electric light, hot water, flush toilets, comfortable beds, and a kitchen, a sitting room, a sheltered braai area and even a library.

Unfortunately as far as the Silo trail goes it will have to be third time lucky for the Club, because again we failed to do it. The story was that we elected to do an alternative and longer trail on the Saturday. It is a bit longer (6 hours) and takes us down into the Tugela valley and through a neighbouring game farm. It turned out to be a very pleasant hike, although the climb back up was fairly severe. We were not very lucky with the game but we saw a herd of 20 wildebeest twice, so that makes 40 wildebeest, and some zebra, including an all-white albino zebra. He looked as though he had forgotten to put on his pajamas.

Selwyn proved to be a font of knowledge about the bush, and he introduced us to the flame thorn (Acacia ataxacantha) which has bright red seed pods, the scented thorn (Acacia nilotica), and the buffalo thorn which has evil backward-curving thorns. When the seed pod is broken off the scented thorn and squeezed a pleasantly scented aromatic oil comes out. We saw a magnificent tree aloe (Aloe bainesii) in full bloom with pink flowers. Some of the Euphorbia were also flowering with bright red blooms.

Lorraine chose to visit the ladies toilet in the evening while we were sitting round the fire, and came back rather precipitately because she had met a spider the size of a desert plate (20 cm) Keith dealt with the problem. It may have been a rain spider (Genus Palystes) which are recorded as growing to this size, but Lorraine did not stay around long enough to be certain.

So we go off to bed after a most interesting day and when we woke up it was misty and raining! We had already decided not to hike because the views are the best part of the hike, and when we spoke to Chris he told us not to try because parts of the trail would be dangerously slippery.

The Theunissens said that the hike is not booked ahead much, and they would welcome quite small parties, say four or five. Their phone number is 033 4171878


Campbell Downie