ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – 16 AUGUST 2005



Member numbers have grown again from last hiking/financial year. We have welcomed all new members to the club during the year, and we trust that they may have enriched themselves in some way from being a member of this club. However over the year we have experienced a decline in the numbers of members taking an active part in the walking and hiking activities organized by your club leaders. 


Past years Club Activities : Week end and longer hikes

The Vergezient long week end in the Oliviers Hoek Pass area was well attended and enjoyed by all as it was “luxury accommodation and treatment”

Mark and Mary’s Lyndhurst cottage proved a popular week-end away in “nowhere land”.   Keith and Margaret Ashton’s Drakensberg Garden cottage week-ends (many) proved popular, however due to the host’s incredible spirit and hunger for hiking, the week-ends were never a very restful time as there was always “hiking to do”.

There was a combined hiking and camping week end at Cobham, we had a large group who hiked up to Gxalingenwa cave for the night, and a smaller group who camped at Cobham and did day walks from the camp site.

The trip to Marble Baths Cave had a small group who spent the night in the cave.

The Kamberg/Stillerust cottage week end at the very comfortable KZN Wildlife cottage, with day walks went well.

The Lower Injesuti Cave trip, took a longer way home than planned, however all managed very well.

Highmoor New Year Cave Party was a huge success, the mist came down late in the afternoon, but all hikers were back safe in the cave by then.

Camping/boating weekend at Wagon drift was a different and enjoyable experience.

The 5-day Giants Cup trail was well supported, although rain dampened the first 2 days, the hike was enjoyed by a large group, including the barefoot and blister brigade.

Probably one of the most scenic week-end trips was the one to Tarn Cave, wonderful scenery and an incredible sunrise.

The Sani Pass history hike, and overnight at the top of Sani Pass as well as the climb up   to the North Hodgsons Peak, was an interesting week-end.   The weather was a bit against us on the Sunday.

Then there was the Ballito Bay beach camping week-end – a different week-end again.

Giants Castle – Centenary Hut Exploration trip went well, even if it did mean climbing through the hut windows to get in and out of the hut.   Not so convenient to go to the toilet at night.

The Cathedral Peak hiking/camping week-end turned into an epic hike for the hikers due to unforeseen circumstances.   Unfortunately there were no campers for that week end.


The Day Hikes

There have been a great variety of day hikes planned, some were very well attended, and others were a non-event as they had to be cancelled due to little or no interest.

Visits were planned to:

Cumberland Nature Reserve, Umgeni Valley, Kamberg, Bulwer Mountain, Durban – treasure Beach Moonlight walk, Boston area, Kamberg swimming day, Ferncliff Nature Reserve, Swartkop, Hilton College, Bisley Nature Reserve, Karkloof  Falls – probably the largest turnout of all day hikes,  Umhlanga Beach hike ,


Cancelled events

Events cancelled were the cycle ride at Mondi, day hike in Mondi, Demagdenberg forest hut week end day hike to Cypress Cave, week end tenting hike to Kamberg and the Christmas in July party.

Xmas Party

A truly memorable day was held at Mark and Mary’s home for the Xmas party.   What with eating, drinking, swimming, foofy sliding, twisting of arms, legs, shoulders as well as a very delightful Father and Mother Xmas, it really was a day to remember.   Special thanks to those who did all the organisation and hard work, as well as to all those who attended the day.   Well done.


Social Evenings

Attendance has been a bit up and down.   However we have had some very memorable slide shows and presentations, from Dragonflies to across the berg epics – Backpackers Grand Traverse, too many week-end away pics, the mini traverse, as well as the some privately organised trips.   Here a big thank you to Brian Henwood for making his electronic equipment available to the club to show these pictures.   Without this equipment, we would not have been in a position to see and enjoy so many wonderful places.   Thanks to all the staff at Bush & Bundu for coming to our meeting and presenting a range of modern hiking equipment.

Social evenings for the sake of meeting others have not been that well accepted.

Some cause of concern to me is the lack of people coming through to either lead hikes, or to suggest new places to hike.   We need some new people to start coming through to start to learn some of the easier hikes, as well as some of the berg hikes to become future leaders.   It would be a shame to close the club due to huge membership, but no leaders.   So don’t be shy, we have to start somewhere

(I am going on – sorry…but I must).


Highlights and achievements

September 2004 – Keith Ashton, Philip Grant, myself joined the Mountain Backpackers on their Grande Travers  - qualification hike – the Mini Traverse  from the Sentinel to Organ Pipes Pass, a 5 day incredibly scenic  hike .


Congratulations to Keith Ashton and Philip Grant.

Mountain Backpackers 2005 Grand Traverse which has just been completed by Keith Ashton and Philip Grant.   The Grand Traverse starts at the Sentinel at Royal Natal -, 13 days and 220 kilometers later it ends at Bushmans Nek border post.   The challenge was a tough one, with some unfriendly weather experienced at times.  However I will leave them to tell the story, and show pictures once the CD from Backpackers is available.

KEITH Ashton HAS OFFICIALLY BEEN CROWNED “THE OLDEST MEMBER OF THE MOUNTAIN BACKPACKERS CLUB” and possibly the world, to have completed this “little hiking trip”

Congratulations also to Chantel Beatie, Irene Dickin, Allison Gunning and Teressa Whitfield, Moira Filmer, from our club, who were part of the Grand Traverse re-supply team.   They braved the long walk and climb from Giants Castle camp to Bannermans Hut, then up Bannermans Pass then to the summit of the berg to carry re-supply food for the main Traverse Party.   Believe me, a very arduous day for any hike, especially as one has to carry your own tent as well as your food.   If it was not for club members who volunteer to re- supply the Grand Traverse Team, they would have a near impossible task to do this hike.

Well done to all these club members.                                                                                                             Dave Sclanders



The annual Christmas Party is scheduled for Sunday, 4 December, at Mark Nellist’s farm  “Chiarella” in the Karkloof area.   Time of arrival is 10:30 to 11:00 and members are requested to bring a picnic lunch (braai fires will be provided), tables, chairs, cutlery and glasses, a small gift of no more than R15 in value and, if they have one, a gazebo for shelter from the sun and hopefully not the rain.   Full details of this event will be published in the November Newsletter.   In the meantime note the date in your diaries – 4 DECEMBER.



Annual subscriptions were due on 1 August 2005, thanks to all the members who paid promptly.     If you have not renewed your subs yet would you please do so asap.   Should you not intend remaining a member of the Club please advise the secretary by post (Keith Ashton, 27 Riley  Crescent, Howick 3290) or by phone/fax  033 330 3763 or by  e-mail keimarg@mweb.co.za.   Your co-operation is much appreciated.


In terms of the club constitution - Clause 3.3 Termination of membership shall occur : 3.3.1 three (3) months after the date on which the membership fee was due and unpaid. i.e. Membership will lapse if the subs are not paid by end of October.




It was with regret that your Club accepted the resignation of long-standing members Warwick and Brenda Keating.   Brenda has been experiencing an ongoing problem with her back and as a result has had to give up hiking any distance.   Warwick’s expertise and knowledge of the Drakensberg will be greatly missed as will the nursing ability of Brenda to attend to our blisters, cuts and bruises along the track.   We wish them both every blessing and much happiness in any new adventures they may undertake.



4-6 June 2005


The Dolphin Coast Holiday Resort was the destination of MHC members off to enjoy a camping week-end at Ballito of surfing, beach walking, dophin spotting and good company.   The check-in at reception was friendly and efficient.


With three vehicles arriving almost simultaneously and after some wandering around we located our camp sites and were busy erecting tents and unpacking vehicles when a maid appeared loaded with a tray of tea to refresh us after our journey.   A most considerate touch on the part of the Camp site owners and much appreciated by us.   Altogether thirteen members and family arrived for the week-end, including Hettie with grand-daughter Jessica of three on her first ever camping expedition and Grethe’s 5-year old grand-daughter Ashley.   The children proved to be great company for each other.


The camp sites are situated mostly on fairly level grassy areas under trees to provide shade for the hotter part of the day.   Morning and afternoon tea and cookies are laid on as part of the service in the recreational area where there is a swimming pool, trampoline, TV and other facilities for the entertainment of children and grown-ups alike.   The tennis enthusiasts spent afternoon tea time watching the ladies’ final of the French Open.  


Power points at the camp sites provide electricity while clean ablution blocks strategically placed around the area ensure that one never needs to wander too far to find hot baths/showers and toilet facilities


Our members are becoming very sophisticated campers, Keith and Margaret bringing along an electric kettle and toaster, while Graham manufactured an ingenious fold-away table complete with plug point on the side to hold an electric two-plate hot plate for cooking.   Nonetheless we did have braais in the evenings with everyone gathering around the fire for companionable chat.   Despite being right on the coast it became quite chilly as the evenings wore on with beanies being much in evidence.


Across the road from the camp site is a small shopping centre with a supermarket, a small restaurant and other shops for those wishing to browse or eat out.  Higher up to the rear is a more upmarket eatery for those with more expensive palates.   Should one wish to travel further afield a Pick n Pay is located only a few kilometers away.


The beach walks were lovely, if a trifle breezy on the first day, when some of us really battled against the wind hanging on to prevent it from blowing us off the rocks.   Sticks were very evident and much needed.   The following days dawned bright, beautiful and windless.   Beach walks and sea swimming were the order of the days while the youngsters enjoyed sand-castle building and doing all the things children love to do on the beach.


Some members packed up on the Sunday afternoon needing to get back for work, while those on the pensioner list were able to stay until Monday afternoon and enjoy another day by the sea.


A great place for a relaxing and enjoyable week-end.



Sunday 8 May,2005


If you have never been to the Cumberland Nature Reserve, it is well worth a visit.   It is so close to home and yet you get the feeling of being far from the madding crowd and experience the peace and quiet of the bush.


Jack, Ossie and Libby left Howick in brilliant sunshine only to arrive at the entrance to the Reserve in overcast and cool conditions where we met Graham and Hildegard.   Graham had expected another hiker to join us, but having waited until 09h00, we decided to proceed with our walk.


We set up camp for Ossie in the picnic area complete with camp chair and crossword puzzle to keep him occupied for the morning.   However, he had to earn his loafing time by having the braai fire ready for our return!


Graham led us on a very nice walk across the top of the escarpment and down to the river.   The river is definitely not a place to swim as there are “Beware of Crocs” signs.    By this time, the clouds had evaporated and it turned out to be a perfect day.    The paths throughout the Reserve are well marked and maintained.   The picnic area is very civilized with toilets in wooden huts – 1st and 2nd class – long drop or flush and with a wash basin outside the huts!!


We stopped for tea by the pool at the bottom of the waterfall.   The water was so still that there was the most amazing reflection of the entire height of the cliffs.   One could almost envisage that the cliffs stretched the same distance under water.   After our break we continued upstream for awhile and then climbed up the side of the gorge – a very pretty climb.   This part of the climb was similar to the Dwarfs Dawdle in the Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve.  We stopped on a rock at the top for a short break  -

with a wonderful view of the river and then proceeded back to the picnic area where Ossie had dutifully prepared the fire for the braai.


After lunch we drove up to the top of the hill where there is accommodation,  presumably for school groups.   The buildings are on a ridge with the most magnificent views either side.   There is also an old farmhouse which, unfortunately, has been left to deteriorate.   It must have been a wonderful house at one time with the verandah all the way round and the very thick walls – such a great pity.


Although the turnout for the walk was poor due to the fact that it was Mother’s Day, it would have been an ideal place to take the family for an outing even if they did not want to walk.   It was very inexpensive – just R5,00 in the honesty box!!   Thanks to Graham for a great day.               Libby Deysel.                                                                                                                    





The next meeting of the Committee/Leaders will be held on Tuesday, 8 November, at 19h00.   Please make every effort to attend.   Apologies to Keith –  Telephone/Fax 033 330 3763 or e-mail: keimarg@mweb.co.za.