By Lettie Oosthuizen

Our group comprising of Keith Ashton (leader) his wife Magaret, Peter, Carolee, Melody, Veronica, Val, Penny, Malcolm, Tony and myself, set off from the Highmoor office on Saturday morning and headed off into the hills. The weather was perfect. Sunny with blue skies and wispy white clouds. Dark blue mountains in the distance, green hills and wheat coloured fields surrounding us. There was an air of excitement amongst us. For me it was my first overnight hike carrying a “fully” laden backpack.

The walk to the cave was relatively easy. We crossed crystal clear streams and saw a number of waterfalls and many, many beautiful flowers, and grasses in varying hues of blues, greens and browns.

On approaching the cave I noticed that it was quite a steep descent and silently had a little nervous breakdown. However as with all else in life I took it one step at a time and once or twice on my behind, and before I realised it, I was at the entrance of the cave.

My eyes were wide with awe at the size of the cave with its’ massive solid rock roof and then of course the magnificent waterfall with an almost illuminious shine, cascading into a cool green pool. There and then I knew that I would not be leaving there before I had had the experience of taking a dip in the cool water and felt the tumbling waterfall on my back.

After lunch, whilst some of the group members elected to rest, Keith took the rest of us across the pool and up the hill on the opposite side to explore the magnificent countryside. We took many photographs. I of course could not resist having a photo taken of me behind some rocks and Keith doing his usual signature pose. (Our famous one legged leader on crutches, only at MHC)

Later in the afternoon we headed back to the cave, and on arriving at the pool, it was boots off for Margaret, Penny and myself and into the icy cold water. What an adrenalin rush! I sat on a natural rock ledge below the waterfall with the pelting water giving me a perfect head and neck massage. Tony eventually plucked up the courage and joined us in the water.

The evening was very relaxed with everyone making hot drinks, preparing supper, making beds and sharing experiences with one another. I was still on such a high that I did very little sleeping that night. Much to the dismay of one of my fellow hikers who had to listen to my chatter. To add injury to insult I had also made my bed on a slight slope, resulting in me, together with my mattress and sleeping bag, constantly sliding down against this poor fellow hiker.

The next morning we woke up to mist and rain. Keith suggested that we stick around until the mist had lifted before attempting the steep ascent up from the cave. This of course gave me the opportunity to take a last swim in the pool. If I thought that the previous day’s swim was amazing, this early morning dip super ceded all expectations. This time no one joined me.

Once the mist had lifted, Keith got us all together for a last photo session and head count (luckily my fellow hiker survived the night and had not ended up at the bottom of the river), where after we proceeded with our climb up from the cave. I had a few more nervous breakdowns as I wasn’t so sure that I’d be able to carry my heavy backpack up the steep hill. However with some encouraging words from Peter and Tony, I eventually surfaced at the top without any drama. We then set off for back across the rolling hills and fields of grass bejewelled by the mist. All in all an amazing weekend in the company of awesome people in a magnificent setting.