The AGM has come and gone, the new committee has been sworn in.   The first committee meeting, the Spring Party/Dinner and at the last social the Backpackers 2004 Grand Traverse CD  presentation was done, and now it is nearly Xmas.   Where does the time go ????


From the club we would like to thank the Crossways Hotel for hosting numerous meetings that we held there in the past.

We thank the outgoing committee for all their input to our last “Hiking Year”, and for keeping the club “flag” flying – or should that be the Club “Mountain”.

We thank also the Hilton Hotel, for allowing us to have our meetings there, and I would urge all our members to support the Hilton by having a drink there when we have our meetings.   The Hilton did us proud for our Spring Party, and we must thank Mary Clover for organizing the event.

This sort of evening may be something we could hold again in the not too distant future.

Thanks to Rod Hart for keeping our web site going.   He is a very busy lad, but still finds time for us.


As you all know, we have gone back to our monthly socials.   I hope this will give us all a chance to be active within the club.   The Committee members are asked not to forget to wear their name tags for all meetings – these tags do not mean that we do not know our names,  we feel that new members will hopefully find it easier to recognize members of the committee, and feel more at home within the club.


We have had a number of new members join and bid welcome to Cath Avery, Dennis Claydon, Annette Des Clayes, Jeanette Whittaker and Rosella Williamson.   To those who have joined our ranks we wish them many happy hikes, and those who have left us, we wish you well and thank you for having shared with us in the wide open spaces.


In the latter part of September three members of the club, Keith Ashton, Phillip Grant and I hiked the Mini Traverse with the Mountain Backpackers.  The 5-day hike started at The Sentinel and 75 kilometers later we came down to the Cathedral Peak Hotel via Organ Pipes Pass, and Camel Pass.   A wonderful experience.   Keith took many, many, many photos, and we will show them one evening at the club.   Watch the newsletters, and make a plan to be there.   This is a very beautiful part of the berg, wild, woolly and rugged.   Our thanks go to Warwick Keating for driving us to Witsieshoek and fetching us from Cathedral Peak at the end.


I have heard a number of people remark that our club appears to be a very strong club, and a busy club.

The club belongs to all of us, WE ARE ALL “THE CLUB”.

No club can be made up of a few people, and then be strong.   The club needs the support of everyone to keep strong.

For us all to take part in the club’s activities 

For us all to encourage new members

For us all to encourage one another to do day hikes or week-end hikes

And for more members to volunteer to become leaders, for day hikes or week-end hikes


Without members – there is no club

Without leaders – there is no club




Happy Hiking                                                                                                                                                                                                         



PS, should anyone be interested in, or deciding to buy any hiking equipment, talk to your leaders.   These people have a wealth of knowledge gained from experience over a long time.   Many of the sales people you will meet in any outdoor/shoe shop or whatever, are merely sales people, probably done very little hiking themselves - yet they must sell to you.  You have to wear what you buy – they don’t.   Get good advice from our professionals, then go and harass the sales people from a position of strength.




Members are reminded that annual subscriptions at R40 single and R60 per family for the year 1 August 2004 to 31 July 2005 are now overdue.   For those of our members who have perhaps omitted to include this small amount in their budgets, the Club has extended the final payment date to 30 November 2004 after which it will be necessary to remove all unpaid members’ names from our membership list.   Payments may be made either by cheque and mailed to our Treasurer, Ossie Deysel or by direct deposit into the Club’s Bank Account at Nedbank Hilton Branch, Account No 1519007299 with a copy of the deposit slip, including your personal details, faxed to 033 330 3763.




The annual Christmas Party is scheduled for Saturday, 4 December, at Mark Nellist’s farm  “Chiarella” in the Karkloof area.   Time of arrival is 10:30 to 11:00.  There will then be a selection of teams for the boat races and a practice of “war cries”.   Braai fires will be lit ready for a picnic lunch at approximately 12:00.   Members please bring meat, salads, rolls and drinks or whatever is your fancy to have for lunch, plus table, chairs, cutlery and glasses.  In the afternoon the boat races will be organized between the teams selected in the morning.   For those participating in the boat races it is suggested that they bring bathing costumes.   All team members will be required to wear life jackets, so if you cannot swim, you will be kept afloat.   Following the boat races it is planned to have afternoon tea and cakes and a fun event for which each member is requested to bring a small gift of no more than R10 – R15 value plus a small plate of cakes or biscuits to share.   As a shield against the sun, and hopefully not the rain, those of our members who have gazebos and/or beach umbrellas these would be appreciated.   If you do not know the way to Mark’s home please telephone him on either   082 826 2526 or  033 330 2703, failing him try Mary on 083 700 6199.




The Club has received a number of enquires from members interested in acquiring the CD of the “2004 Grand Traverse”.   These are available from Lawence Bates of Mountain Backpackers at a cost of R50 cash with order.   All funds raised from the sale of this CD go to charity.   Speak to either Dave Sclanders or Keith Ashton.


Also available is the CD by Paul Hone “ uKhahlamba I Hear your Drums” at a cost of R90 cash with order.   Interested members should speak to Dave Sclanders.




Thirty-two members, family and friends arrived in the Hampton Room, Hilton Hotel, to welcome Spring.   The theme for the evening was “The 60’s” and we had some most interesting outfits to add to the sparkle of the gathering.   Ossie and Libby Deysel in their hippy flower children get-ups, complete with Peace signs, flowers in the hair, mini-skirts and wigs left many of us wondering who they were!   Margaret Ashton arrived in a splendid hat decorated with fragrant Jasmine, while Mary Clover added authenticity to the gathering in her short full skirt, wide belt and flattie shoes.


A tasty buffet was provided by the Hotel and at R45 per head was excellent value for money.   Having replenished the inner man/woman the music got into full swing and soon the whole room was rocking to the tunes of the 60’s.   Cool Cat Anton with his Doll Penny gave a spirited display of jive at its best – all that was missing on Anton was the comb in the sock and the packet of Lucky Strike tucked into his sleeve.   Go man, go!


Altogether a most enjoyable evening and as some were heard to remark, perhaps we should make it an annual affair.   How about a “20’s evening” or a formal affair complete with dress suits and long gowns, a Winter Wonderland evening or perhaps a Van der Merwe Party.   The ideas are endless.  Members let us have your thoughts on this!




This month we feature a well-known camp/caravan site frequented by many, and that is the Karoo National Park outside Beaufort West.    Although in the Karoo the campsite itself is lush and green with private shady areas or more open sites.   The choice is yours.   Ablutions facilities are excellent with hot baths and showers, basins, mirrors and toilets.   There is also a laundry for the use of visitors and a kitchen complete with 4 sinks for washing dishes and 4 electric 2-plate stove-tops.   The sites are sited around the ablution blocks and kitchen so nothing is too far away.   Good quality chalets are available but normally one has to book well in advance for one of these as they are very popular with the traveling public.   In the main block apart from the office there is a restaurant, conference centre and a small supply store.   A map provided on arrival shows game viewing drives, a short hiking trail and bird hide.   

Entrance into the Park has to be paid which at present is R30 and a camp site R85 per night.   An excellent pensioner discount applies during mid-week.



24/26 September 2004


Friday morning dawned an unsure day with small puffy and often glum looking clouds, chugging passed us as we drove up the scenic Oliviershoek Pass to Vergezient.   Jenny, Trish and I, following Keith's map, argued the road after taking the Retief Pass turnoff and carried on past the turning to Base Camp until we finally ran out of road and were faced with a very narrow gateway across a cattle grid.  There were cattlegrids clearly marked on the map so we agreed that we were on the right road and needed to carry on through the gateway.  With the decision made and unsure of how much further before we arrived at camp, we made a hurried pitstop, made all the more hurried when we realised we were being watched!  We scrambled back into the car, knickers not quite as neat as they were a while ago, when we realised the 'person' watching us was the 'kaalvoet vrou’, a monument to a Voortrekker woman who, the story tells us, vowed that she would rather cross the mountains barefoot than live under British rule.   We reached a circular, thatched roofed building, built into the side of the kopje with huge glass sliding doors opening out onto a terrace, giving a spectacular all round view of the valley far below, mountains in every direction and the old Retief Pass road winding its way down the kloof.    Stunning!  Is this where we staying we asked, noticing that we were the only signs of life.  No, we were at Dumbe guesthouse and trespassing on someone's farm!


We eventually found our way to ZondernTwyfel Barnhouse which was exactly that - a barnhouse.  An awesome structure with a woodburning stove in the middle and a chimney going straight up the centre of the building acting as a radiator to all the rooms (partitions affording privacy but not insulated as we found out over our stay, we chose a bedroom directly above the ablutions and the smells and sounds kept us out of our bedroom until fall down time!)  The one end of the wide colonial verandah was comfortably furnished with deep coaches in front of an enormous hearth and enclosed with glass windows where we could see the tablecloth on the magnificent central and northern berg directly in front of us, slowly building up and rolling off the edges.   The other end of the verandah offered another huge fireplace where Keith and Ossie cooked our evening meals.


By lunchtime, everyone had arrived and settled in and a party led by Keith set off for Razor's Edge.  A lookout point that should have opened the world to us, we unfortunately ran into light rain just before reaching the top.  We donned raingear and peered out over the enormous valley below us.  We arrived back wet and cold but with high spirits which were lifted all the more when we were greeted by lit fires and boiling kettles.  The most striking memory I will nurture of this weekend was the music supplied by Brian and Libby.  It was all 'my era' and wow, it had me foot tapping with nostalgic memories, Irish coffee in hand. 


Saturday dawned with a little sunshine to cheer us along.  Keith led us off into the unknown for a day of hiking none of us will forget.   It was a day where we experienced wet, cold, hot, dry, valley, hill and gully until our limbs ached and cried out for the end!  (Am I speaking for myself here?  I don't think so!)  What kept us going was the views and the stories.  Graham had worked on the Sterkfontein Dam and he has made a contribution to this article with some of the history of the massive pipeline we passed which I found very interesting.


"For some considerable time it had been clear that the water supplies to the Witwatersrand would have to be supplemented by the importation of water from another catchment.   Eventually the Dept of Water Affairs agreed and the Rand Water Board, who had the expertise, was commissioned to do the engineering design work.


I was involved in the design of the pumping and water metering equipment that was to transfer water from the Tugela catchment to the Vaal area, for treatment and use in and around Johannesburg.   The scheme involved a small barrage high on the Tugela at a site called Driel.   Pumps at this site transferred water to a series of canals that ended at the Jagersrust Forebay, from where the water was pumped 500 metres up to the level of the Free State.   We looked down onto Jagersrust from one of our hikes, and we drove along the old canals that carried this water to Sterkfontein as we approached our hiking accommodation by car.


From these canals it arrived in the Sterkfontein Dam from where it gravitated to the Vaal system.


This scheme was, unfortunately, in operation for only a short time when the Dept of Water Affairs came to an agreement with Escom for Escom to engineer a much bigger scheme to do the same water transfer to Gauteng but, in addition, to be a pumped storage scheme as well.   This scheme pumps water from the Tugela up to Sterkfontein, but can also release water back through the same machinery to the Tugela.   When this happens, the pumps run in reverse and become generators, generating electricity back into the national power grid.   Escom uses this facility when it is short of power at peak times, such as suppertime on a cold evening.


The implementation of this much larger scheme has rendered the original water transfer scheme redundant and the pumping equipment has been suitably modified and used elsewhere.


Both schemes are visible from the various hiking trails at Vergezient."    by Graham Ward


The water canals linking the Driekloof and Sterkfontein dams were flanked by bright green hues of lush crops and it was while walking through a section of protea trees that we noticed strange growth formations on some branches, almost as if the plant had 'erupted' at a point and all the ensuing growth had then died off.  I brought a branch back and have been told by the fundis that this has probably resulted from crop spraying.  Very likely, as these plants were growing on a mountain side directly above the cultivated lands being fed by the water canals.  Terrible, terrible, terrible.


We stopped at the New Beginngings cave for lunch, with Bushman art above us, a tree and creeper clad ravine below us and an Ibis watching us uneasily from her perch.  Feeling fed and fresh we started off on the path back.  We passed by monastery ruins and marvelled at the stonemason's craft of yesteryear.  Derelict villages, homes once warm with lives passing through the now gaping doorways.  What tales could be told.  The bush thickened and we found ourselves walking along a stream bed, this certainly was not the first, in fact we were now quite proficient in bouldering but we could not have anticipated what 'Goom Goolly' was going to lead us to as Keith cheerfully called out this landmark.  We climbed up, down, over what seemed like a never ending rockslide through Crooks Corner, Tree Bend, Porcupine Tunnels (get down there girl!), Abseil Krantz (which did offer a pre-season promise of grandeur from Vergezient Falls) up, up, up Vergezient Kloof and finally home.


After a warm supper, with howling winds around us, Libby and Tess took to the floor and before I knew it I was dancing the night away.  What wonderful people!


Sunday, - uhm, windy, man was it windy, and snow! the mountains were covered, yes the sun was making a weak attempt and the wind had swept away the clouds opening the world outside to magnificent views that had been hiding behind cloud and drizzle, but, go hiking?  After yesterday?  Jenny had to do some sweet talking to get me to follow, for which I was later most grateful when walking up to Heldersig and along Dragon's Spine we were all quite speechless at the stunning beauty around us.  We hiked up to iTshilimpisi where we sat in the sunshine having an early lunch.  It was at this point that Keith told me that he was returning to the berg the next day to take part in the mini traverse!  I then realised! - we had all been in training for the mini traverse!


Thanks to the 22 other people who were my company over these three days.  It was a wonderful, fun, knackering weekend!  Thanks especially to Keith for getting me fit in three days!

Hettie Randall



3 October 2004


There is very definitely a need for day hikes such as was lead by Graham Cullinan in the Cumberland Nature Reserve, evidenced by the fact that there were 20 Midlands Hiking Club members with him.   The walk began at a most civilised time, (shortly after 9:00) at a beautiful green and shaded picnic area in the reserve.  Graham lead us to what appeared to be the edge of the world.    Here were rewarded with a spectacular view of the river far below and two Fish Eagles circling above giving their typical cry of Africa, then over and steeply down through a crack in the rock face to a path which ran at the bottom of the face which lined the Umgeni River gorge.   This definitely got the adrenaline flowing.   We continued on this path, climbing over rocks and roots, ducking under foliage and ferns, until we descended steeply further into the valley to reach the bottom of the falls, and a wonderfully refreshing pool in which three hikers, one fully clothed except for boots, lead the way with a swim.  The stillness of the place and the water caused the most magnificent reflections of the surrounding cliffs in the pool that I didn’t actually see the pool at first, despite its size. This was our half way place and was an ideal spot for ‘tea’.   The walk continued along the river and out into a broadened flat section of the valley, before we climbed up and out of the gorge to return to the picnic area which we reached at about 12:00.   There is no doubt that the cold beers and promise of a braai and social time together had some influence in getting people back relatively quickly as it was a steamingly hot day!  I couldn’t stay for the braai but left everyone feeling, despite having thoroughly enjoyed the hike into what was new territory for me, that I was going to be missing out on what made the outing as popular as it no doubt was – the chance for club members just to be together, in beautiful surroundings, satisfied after the exertions of the morning’s walk.   Graham had produced two bags of charcoal and soon those remaining had settled down to enjoy beer (or wine or their particular tipple), braai and comradie.  Thank you Graham for the organisation and leadership.

(Cumberland Nature Reserve: entry a mere R5 per person (honesty box), amazing and clean ablutions facilities – about 20km in total from the centre of town, along the Table Mountain Road)

Allison Gunning




The next meeting of the Committee/Leaders is scheduled for Tuesday, 11 January 2005, at 19:00 at the Hilton Hotel.   Apologies to Keith if you are unable to attend.