Moonlight Night Hike to Bannerman Hut (Giant's Castle). Saturday 6th-7th June 2009
Led by Dave Sclanders
Report by Rod Hart, Photos by Dave Sclanders

Well I have taken the liberty of snitching some pics from Dave to give a more balanced view of the Night Hike to Bannerman Hut in the Giants Castle area.

For me the opportunity to do a Moonlight hike was not to be missed and though there were several factors that I did not take into account - mainly that it has been several years since I hiked with a full backpack and other fitness and nutrition related factors. But what an opportunity it is to be able to hike into the mountains with an experienced guide and competant companions.

As one walks along the trail dimly lit by the shadowy moon shining though cloud cover I was appreciative of how well Dave, our leader, knew the track, giving us advance warning of how the track would become rutted and we would rather walk alongside, or as we came to a gully Dave would advise how we would cross, where the path would level out and where it would be steep (it seemed mainly steep to me).

Personal thanks from me to Dave and the rest of my companions who were held up while I rested (frequently) and who gave me the encouragement and assistance to carry on - the professionalism of the Midlands Hiking Club leadership is truly inspiring.

We met at the Giants Castle picnic area on Saturday afternoon, kitted up in warm hiking gear - essential for a night hike at this time of year - and set off for Bannerman Hut. We had set off in the fading daylight because, seeing the clouds already formed, it was obvious that although there was to be a full moon it was likely to be well shielded by cloud. Whilst this hindered us in terms of visability the cloud cover did aid us through keeping the temperature reasonable by trapping the warm air.

In the darkness you come upon Bannerman Hut quite suddenly with it's roof visable in the near distance - however quite a climb up the last 100m or so to the hut! Inside the warmth and shelter of the hut, hot beverages and other liquids to warm one's innards, and life starts to look quite livable again. After a good night's sleep and a look around the view stretching out in from of the hut and looking back at Giants Castle providing a backdrop to the hut, one gets a real appreciation for the efforts that people have gone to provide such an amazing facility. I note Dave does his part for keeping this venue in condition by hiking up with a broom and sweeping the place out before and after - one senses he has taken ownership of this part of the Berg...

After Sunday morning breakfast a group photo against the magnificent mountain backdrop then we are off homewards. After some distance the party split with one group heading directly back to base, whist the others, keen to explore, headed off in the direction of Marshal Eagle stream - I was in the directly back to base group, and on the way back we came across a night adder in the path - warning indeed that snakes don't disappear during the cold months.

While the group of Rob, Chantel, Moira and myself had lunch back at the picnic base spot the other exploring group lunched alongside a cold clear stream, but as happens so frequently in the Berg, the weather turned and really ominous clouds brewing overhead, sent them packing back to base which interrupted the afternoon nap I had planned while waiting for their return.