“Lower Dwarfs Dawdle Trail”
Umgeni Valley – Howick
Sunday 13 April 2008

Pics & accompanying comment by Rod Hart
(Selecting & clicking on a pic will open it to a larger size)

Selven Nyker ably led the combined group of about 15 MHC and Backpacker hikers through Umgeni Valley's Lower Dwarfs Dawdle Trail, and the Confluence Trail. A great hike all round which showed why the Umgeni Valley Hikes have become popular on the MHC calendar.

The trail starts on the top of the plateau where my first pic was of "animals" to show if nothing else that we were in a reserve. The second pic shows a "tree" (most likely a Wild Fig) perched on a rocky outcrop, a point to note is that we would be lunching at the rivers edge seen far far down below.

We scrambled down a natural pass from the escarpment, don't be fooled by the stairs and handrails they are best described as "rustic and wet" we then contoured just below the cliff face which provided the opportunity to view quite an array of things of interest (namely the purple centered plants, natural columns appearing to hold up the cliff, fungi and more rustic bridge things)

After the climb down and then up we had apparently looped rather cleverly around and ended up where we started (Selven knows his stuff!) and there all the Lower Dwarfs sat and rested. Until rallyed by Selvyn to set off on the second leg of our Trail which was to take us down on the Confluence Trail.

First stop was a viewpoint/lookout with a water pipe ladder which Margaret later pointed out was held to the rockface by a single wire looped around a rawlbolt - well it held for all of us, though personally I found that going down took more faith than coming up. In my pics I have tried to portray the sense of danger this involved, rather than provide postcard pics of the view from the top (which I, in any case, omitted to take)

Next stop was our lunch stop (which should be obvious from the first pic below). Selven spotted an interesting spider nest on the ceiling of the overhang we were under. Third pic shows the serene and scenic pool in the Umgeni river where we lunched.

One of the inevitabilities of hiking (and life) is that what goes up must come down or in this case what went down must hike back up, on the way back we passed a group of 4 Coral trees which are said to mark the gravesite of one of the African Chiefs. Pic of a spider along the way which was quite unfazed by the attention it was getting - not quite the type of creature you would wish to share a confined space with.

Another rest at one of the basic campsites before the last grueling uphill effort. Thanks Selven, MHC and Backpacker hikers for a great day!