Sunday, 7th February 2010

Report & photos courtesy of: Libby Deysel

Mike Kirby (Ramblers Club) very kindly offered to drive Carolee and myself to Richmond to meet up with Bushy and Pat and the rest of the hikers, namely Mike and Dallas (coincidence having two Mike Kirby's on the hike!!), Bronwen, Dale and Bruce.

As we were approaching Highover down the windy, windy dirt road and saw the cliffs looming high above the river, Mike said that that was where we were going. I said that as long as we climbed the ridge on the side and did not have to scale the face of the cliffs, it would be ok. As it turned out that was exactly the place we were going to climb, but not the ridge on the side or the cliffs.

Fortunately, for us, apart from a shortish climb up a path in the sun, we then entered a lovely indigenous forest and most of the climbing was in the shade. The path was very well maintained, and in the steep places steps had been cut into the soil (although for the shorties like me, we had to take a few giant strides). We stopped for elevenses half way up and I spotted a very strange looking chongololo (millipede??) not long and thin, but fat and short. I have taken a photo and hope to have it identified. We also saw plenty of very pretty butterflies and neatly woven spiders webs.

Before entering the forest, Bushy led us on a slight detour to see a massive rock which had (how many years ago, is anyone�s guess) broken away from the cliff above and had come to rest on a widish ledge above the river. There was a cave underneath the rock and some bats had taken occupation. We could see the cliff face above where the rock had broken away, but the rock itself was well hidden in a small forest.

I think the climb was about 4.5 (total for the day 10 km) and about 1100m and as it was a very hot day, we did take things slowly with plenty of stops for water and viewing. There were frequent questions "are we near the top?" to which came the rely "just around the corner". It was one of those corners !! However, when we eventually did reach the top we came out onto grassland with stunning views of the river and camp below and looked across at the ridge the other side of the valley where we had hiked another time with Bushy. We could also see Pat and Dallas walking down by the camp. They had decided, because of the heat, that staying down in the valley was a better option.

We found a shady spot for lunch and a long rest. We then proceeded with the descent to the cars and decided to climb over a fence rather than walk a bit further to the gate. We walked down the road and the heat reflecting back in our faces off the road was unbelievable. I normally love the heat, but this was something else and I had to keep telling myself to put one foot in front of the other and dodge from one side of the road to the other to find a tiny bit of shade for a fleeting moment. Most of us eventually ended up sitting in the river to cool off. Bushy and Pat also had a good supply of iced water which was our saving grace.

Bushy has another hike planned in the same area and if you have never been there, I recommend that you join him. It is so beautiful there. Many thanks to Busy and Pat for a wonderful day. Mike had two very quiet passengers in his car on the way back to Howick I was certainly nodding off to sleep every now and again!!