MHC Day Hike up Nhlazane. Dargle
Led by Carolee Thompson.
Natal Midlands.
Sunday 11th November 2012.


Report By Annie Waterhouse. Photos Carolee and Annie

After weeks and weeks of poor weather there was a good turnout of 13 hikers (Neville, Jeff, Linda, Chris, Kevin, Sven, Gill, Carolee, Penny, Charles, Katie, Beccie and Annie) who met at Piggly Wiggly and went onto Mount Park to start the hike. An enthusiastic young worker assured us that the path had been mown and we would easily find it…well the mown path led to the grave yard….was this a sign of things to come? There was no obvious path although a small sign did say ‘The Pass’. After much bundu bashing the party did reach the first summit where we were welcomed with a pleasant breeze and a ‘tea break’. We were accompanied by three dogs, Sundae (nice long legs but sporting a thick Labbie coat, George, who thought that climbing a mountain was not quite enough entertainment and demanded stick throwing and retrieving as part of his effort and Scampi who had very, very short legs and had to be carried parts of the way).

There was more height to be conquered so onwards and upwards we went. Aaahh, once we got to the top discovered we had to descend a step cliff and then regain the height before we could reach our goal. Sundae found a deep cold stream and appeared to believe that this was quite as far as she wanted to go.

Penny (having got to the summit ages before the stragglers) pointed out Satori Farm, where the club has hiked on two previous occasions this year and also a strongly flowing and beautiful waterfall. Sadly the stragglers hardly gave it a glance, so pleased were they to get to the top and rest!!!

With lunches unwrapped a quiet descended with the two small dogs doing what small dogs do, checking out the area (sensible Sundae resting in the shade!!).

Suddenly the sky darkened and THREE yes THREE Lammergeier (Bearded Vulture) (Gypaetus barbatus)*, whooshed up on a thermal. One was very interested in Scampi, the little dachshund, who surely could be mistaken for a nice fat Dassie. The Lammergeier circled a couple of times before realising that this, after all was not going to be lunch. But how lucky were we to get such a close up view of this magnificent Drakensberg creature of the sky.

*This bird is 94–125 cm long with a wingspan of 2.31–2.83 m. It weighs 4.5–7.8 kg. It is essentially unmistakable from other vultures or indeed other birds in flight due to its long, narrow wings, and long, wedge-shaped tail.

The steep descent that strained Achilles tendons was rewarded with cold beers and cool drinks on the green lawns of the Everglades Hotel. With his very clever GPS, Chris was able to show the route’s ups and downs of the 11.3 kms distance and our total ascent of 403ms.

Thanks to Carolee for organising and leading the hike and to all who came and shared the day and made it so special.

P.S If anyone is interested in geocaching, go to where a very informative introduction is given. Further queries can be directed to Annie (Geek!) Waterhouse.