18/20 May 2007
Leader: Keith Ashton
Margaret… Warwick...Dave S...Pat & Bushy...Joan and Andrew...Pam (Oz)...Gerhard, Alice & Martie…Max…Christie…Jenny…Rose & Dan
Highmoor – The Moor of Constant Surprises, especially under the inspired leadership of Keith, who always discovers new places, new views, new waterfalls. What a privilege to hike with Keith.
Friday: 10k hike :
A few of us had arrived early, so went for an afternoon walk, via the recently demolished “Lookout” to Aasvoels Krans Cave. A warmup for the hikes to come.
Keith led 17 eager hikers in the direction of Mt Erskine where he told us of ruins on the mountain side. An easy walk, mostly off path with glorious weather, with the added bonus of two groups of magnificent eland who watched our approach with luminous eyes and velvety ears pricked in our direction before melting back into their own dun coloured landscape.
We didn’t quite make the ruins, but the rivers, gulleys and a beautiful waterfall en route made the hike unusual and spectacular. We reached a lookout point overlooking Kamberg and stopped there for lunch – marvelling at the views way down in the valley and picking out landmarks (Marys old cottage and Roman Baths)
Kamberg looked rather forlorn and deserted –if they lowered their cottage prices, it might encourage more visitors.
Here we were treated to the sight of a Cape Vulture who slowly flew past giving us a perfect view of his back and tail
Sat evening: we gathered around a huge fire, some people braaing and others warming their own variations of supper (lentils!) .
Time spent chatting about the day and enjoying our favourite tipple, some making new friends, others renewing old friendships…..that’s what makes hiking such an integral part of our lives.
The wind strengthened quite frighteningly during the night and most of us were kept awake by strong gusts buffeting our tents, threatening to blow us away – well, that’s what ones imagination says in the early cold hours!
Despite a rather disturbed night, we were up early (as usual!) and after a few fortifying coffees, struck camp and were packed and ready to hike by 9.
The wind was very strong as we set off at a good pace towards the Plaque which stands solid and lonely under Giant…After a brief stop to read the faded legend, we set off down the valley to Ka-Dedakushe Falls – a breathtaking sight, as, on approaching the gulley, the spray from the waterfall misted over us enticing us down for a better look. We stood right on the edge of the falls- savouring the beauty of a rainbow ribboning in the wind-tossed spray- taking photos of this magnificent hidden place. The wind was too strong to have lunch on the edge, so we retired to a sheltered dip to carbo-load before the long pull back to the Beacon. By this time the wind was battering us as we repeatedly staggered off the path into the long
What if you just spread your arms out wide…would you fly? So it felt, but we didn’t tempt fate .
On the way home, on an easy path winding slowly through the shallow valleys, we saw a huge veld fire coming from behind our campsite. Had we forgotten to turn off the gas stove?. Keith told us sad stories of rangers being burnt to death and Daves advice about carrying matches, certainly nagged at us as we watched – in awe – as the enormous clouds of white smoke, tinged with the redness of flames, roared over the hillside.
What a relief to get back and find our vehicles were safe –
Keith, thank you so much for yet another spectacular weekend which will remain with us for a long time as we return to our daily lives. How privileged we are to be able to experience our beautiful country with such a friendly and welcoming group of hikers. As Jenny and I agreed, “the hiking bug bites deep”