Midlands Hiking Club
Wonder Valley Cave
Central Berg
15 – 16 January 2011

Pictures and story by Dave Sclanders

A happy and excited group of hikers under the leadership of trusty, crutchy Keith met at the Injesuthi Main Office at 08h30 in the morning. Excitement and a little nervous apprehension from a few of the members as this was to be their first cave overnight hike. Ages of our group ranged from about 12 to about 70 , its not to early to start, and not too old to stop – this is the life. The morning was cool and a bit overcast, great weather for hiking. Due to the time of year all the streams were running, so re-hydrating would not be a problem. However, positives can quite often be cancelled by negatives – in this case we had 2 streams to cross, and a helping hand would always be welcomed.

Rounding a corner half way up the pass is a huge boulder that seems to be held in place by a very insignificant little rock

A rest was taken at the top of Van Heyningen’s Pass where great views of great Injesuthi Valley, and camp site from which we had started our hike were enjoyed.

On arriving at the cave, sleeping places were organized, lunch was had, then it was down, down , down to the lovely pool in the river to refurbish water bags for the evening, and refresh tired bodies. Then back to the cave for tea, and for one – a suck of “Medicinal Extract – to ward off the dreaded lurgie” from a most unusual Medicinal Extract Carrier and Dispersal Unit . Ag Shame !!!!

Then our younger hikers offered massages to some of our older hikers. What a way to relieve stress

That evening we watched a dark and cloudy sunset going down behind the well known high berg massifs of Champagne Castle / Monk’s Cowl / Cathkin Peak. Early the next morning – very early those up and about witnessed a most amazing sunrise on the same mountains. Those who missed the early show, were later still able to get a very clear picture of the same mountains, but now dressed in green

A little later another stop to admire the view on the way back to the cars.

This magic morning proved to be one of those days were one could see forever . Margaret , Max and I broke away from the group, and climbed up a longer hill – just to see – you know. Well it was unbelievable – this specific point must be one of a very few vantage points from which one can see the whole Central berg – to the tip of the Northern berg - from Giants Castle mountain to the Devil’s Tooth at the Amphitheatre a distance of “130 Crow flying” kilometers. One must understand that the berg bends a bit from Cathkin Peak , and so hides Giant’s Castle from the top of the Northern Berg. One can see Cathkin from the Amphitheatre – a distance of 85 kilometers , but the bend in the mountain does not allow one to see further. So we had a very privileged viewing of more than half of the Drakensberg escarpment range from one point

A short time later large storms clouds started to back up along the foothills of the Cathkin range, and rise high up into the sky - time to head home ?

At this time of the year one expects to see some of the magnificent flowers of the berg. If you are lucky , a very colourful bird may sit long enough for a quick photo shot

It looked like there were some people who were very happy to get back to the car park after a week end of brilliant weather and incredible scenery. Thanks to Keith for his able leadership, guidance and patience