5 – 6 June 2010

MHC to Gxalingenwa Cave
Southern Berg
SA Hikers

The Southern berg has many overnight caves for hikers to spend the night in . One of the most protected, and one of the deepest caves is Gxalingenwa cave in the Cobham area. This is a cave above the 2000 meter level, high up in a Sandstone band, with a small stream running through it . The situation of the cave does not give views of the valley below, or of the sunrise unless one does a good walk to a more open view site. However , it does have a big rock just out of the cave, where on a good evening one can enjoy real open air sundowners, share stories of the day, and sip the night in. It was to this cave that Keith led a group of 9 hikers from MHC and MBP for the week end. One hiker had come down from JHB to do the hike !!!

Keith had decided that we would hike in the opposite direction to the normal, we would go via the Giants Cup trail, to Ingenwa Pools, then hike up to the cave after lunch, and come back via Pinnacle Rock and Emerald Stream on Sunday. We had checked with Ezemvelo about veld fires, and told that a large part of the area we would walk through had been burnt by a runaway fire a week ago, but there was no danger at the moment.

We set off at a good pace – as the way around to Ingenwa is longer than the way up Emerald stream to the cave, and also Keith wanted to have lunch at Ingenwa Pools. However, we soon saw that one of the party was not that fit, and could not keep up with the pace. This caused a real challenge as it was apparent that we would not make Ingenwa Pools for lunch, and as time went on , we would have to have a short lunch break in order to get to the cave before dark. After lunch there was a good climb out of the Lower Valley up to the ridge where the cave was set. The steep climb took a bit of time, and we eventually got into the cave just before dark.

Gxalingenwa cave is a large deep cave, with water nearby, and a large flat rock in the cave that acts as a cooking/dining/talking table. By 19h30 some slow , deep snoring was heard coming from one or two sleeping bags. The evening and night were pleasantly warm for this time of the year.

Sunday woke with a weak sunrise, but turned out to be a great warm hiking day. It is down hill all the way to the cars. One of my favourite places in the berg is at Pinnacle Rock. This huge rock points high to the sky from a large grassy plain, but to me it has a very special peacefull feeling about it. Walking down the stream was a bit prickley as the path goes through the valley floor which is thick with sharp spined porcupine grass. Lunch was near a rocky out crop , then a hop and a skip across a rather low Pholela river.

The last stages of any hike, is that you just want to get the hike over with, so it is head down, and foot forward as fast as you can at that time of the hike and day. However whenever you hike at Cobham, it is always worth it to look back as you near the camp. The Giant’s Cup, or Hodgson’s Peaks are always an amazing site, whether at sunrise or sunset. Just there to the right, is the cutting where the Sani Pass road snakes it way up the escarpment into Lesotho.

We were Blessed with great weather over this week end, warm to hot days, cool night. I cannot stress enough, personal fitness is essential for a back packing week end. Even a relatively short hike weekend can become a mammoth task for the whole group when one person is unfit. It is also likely to put that person off hiking for life.

Thanks to those hiking companions who were able to lend a hand over the week end.