31 DEC 2009 - 1 JAN 2010

Leader: Keith Ashton
Report by: Christie Exall

Once in a "Blue Moon" something really enjoyable happens. Seeing that this particular "Blue Moon" which falls on New Year's Eve only happens every 19 years!

For Keith-on-crutches & Margaret, Rose, Max, Dave, dynamite-Margaret, blonde-Margret & myself this was extremely special & we spent New Year's Eve & New Year's Day in Aasvoelkrans Cave in the Highmoor Nature Reserve near Kamberg.

On Thursday morning, the 31st December we set off to the cave in mild, overcast weather...perfect for hiking.

Aasvoelkrans Cave is huge & well protected from the elements. The walk to the cave is easy and about 5km from the Highnoor office. The descent down to the cave is rather steep & rocky. A most invitng pool and waterfall awaits the weary hiker, albeit a bit difficult to get to .....for some! It is a "double decker" cave with a good approach to the top cave, where the person who wants an easier approach to the river & a cool-off must do a bit of bundu bashing just outside this top cave.

Dave Scanders opted to sleep "upstairs". Rose and I envied him this solitude & view.

Later in the afternoon a super four-some arrived to join us. Consisting of two really beautiful couples. Us oldies gelled straight away with Joel, Riaan, Adrian & Lois.

We were all impatient to celebrate & Margret popped the cork of her bottle of champagne and shared with our group well before 8 o'clock! while the four-some shared theirs.

Our cave was festively adorned with lots of faery candles, which gave the cave a festive look. Later during the night we were treated to nature's spectacular display of thunder & lightning. How lucky can you get!

Friday saw us ready to hike at 7.30. We took an up-and-over route to Caracal Cave. We stopped at the crest of the path and took a roundabout route back to our cave, via the Boma near the trout dam, where we had lunch. Here we said our "Good Byes" to Dave & our young friends, Joel, Riaan, Adrian and Lois.

Here I must show my admiration for Keith's endurance on crutches!!

Our hikes to and from the caves rewarded us with an abundance of wild flowers........Helichcrysums, Lobelia, Hypoxis, Sopubia cana, Monopsis decipiens, Scilla nervosa, Aristea woodii, Dierama, Satyrium, Scabiosa and many more.

Walking with Rose is always a pleasure....to observe her laughter and her joie de vie! I always come home having learnt a new wild flower name or two.

My admiration for Margaret Robberts is enormous! What a bundle of dynamite! Such a caring person!

I simply have to mention Max for his helpfulness.......especially keeping the supply of water flowing!!

We so appreciate Nature and not one of us missed the frenzy of celebrating New Year elsewhere.

It was my priviledge to spend the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year with Keith, Margaret, Dave, Max, Rose, Margaret R, Margret K, Joel, Dawn, Riaan and Lois.

Following pics courtesy of Rose Dix:

Our eager group off to have some fun

New Years Eve..A strange mix of Beverages.We stayed up til 7.30 !

What better place to be on the first day of the New Year
The first-time-cavers wondering what was in store

5 Chicks and a Giant

'The Brother' having his moment of silence

It all came out, so why wont it all go back in?

Negotiating THAT path yet again

Keith The Bionic Man - what an example to us all.
Thank you, Keith and Margaret for a wonderful New Year

Moraeas lining our homeward path