Giant’s Castle Hut
“Tenting week End”
uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park
26 – 27 January 2013

Report & Photos courtesy of Dave Sclanders

Giant’s Hut - Mark 2 was rebuilt in 1966, after the first hut known as Bill’s Barn was built 10 years earlier, but was blown away by a mighty gust of wind .Giant’s hut and Bannerman’s hut formed a very popular 2 night , 3 day hiking circuit for many years . then some years ago – Giants Hut was burnt down, and this effectively closed off this part of the berg to hikers. A great tragedy as this part of the berg , from Giant’s Hut to Bannerman’s hut , and indeed to Centenary Hut has some of the most amazing views of any hiking trail in South Africa. Now, hikers must carry tents to enjoy this incredible place – so , few people visit here - such a shame as this Giant’s Mountain deserves better than this .

6 of us left Giant’s Camp on an overcast morning, with our tents, and headed up Giants Ridge to the contour path. A punishing, steady climb of about 600m. The views along the ridge – the whole walk is up along the spine of Giant’s Ridge gives on incredible views of the huge valleys of this area, and on a clear day the huge massive rock fortress of Giant’s Castle and right round to Corner Pass and beyond . Such views, such majesty , such identifiable solitude, builds the very soul of one’s inner self.

On reaching the hut, decisions had to be made as to the best place to tent, and as the weather sort of showed signs of rain – which we expected – we put up tents, made tea and had lunch, then went to fetch water from a nearby stream. Back at the tents, a flower patrol was sent out to check on mother nature – what a feast of colour, beauty, delicateness and incredible beauty was found amongst the long grass. A sight for any beauty lovers eyes. Supper was had in the “old dining room . Fresh air was compulsory – the as the mist rolled in , it was time to wrap into a comfortable , warm sleeping bag , and sleep the night away.

Sunrises are “always” spectacular in the berg . If you sleep late you loose - some lost this vital moment in the birth of a new day .After breakfast , we packed up , and in great weather, headed on our long down hill hike home. Arriving safe at the camp , lunch was had, showers taken , and we headed home. On the way home, Kevin and I were unexpectedly “attacked and violated” by a most incredible hail storm that came out of nowhere. Back home, a beautiful sunset summed up our week end.

Pics - 2 - Giants Castle entry gate
Pic - 3 - Giant’s Ridge is long and , hard , views superb – up down and round about
Pic - 4- The path cuts through the saddle in the far horizon
Pic - 5 - first water source after a long pull up the ridge

Once we arrived at the burnt out hut , our first priority was to get the tents up

Pic - 6 - This looks like a fair spot
Pic - 7 - No room in here for tents
Pic - 8 - How does this go again ?????
Pic - 9 - O.K – no pegs left behind, all looks good – the tarn is just down the hill
Pic – 10 - Time for lunch

Down to the river with water bags to collect water for the eving , and if you liked , a great place to swim – especially on a hot day.

Pic – 11 - Don’t dive into the pool , you won’t get out
Pic - 12 – Filling water bottles
Pic – 13 - “He went that way !!”
Pic – 14 - Time for a “cool snooze”

Back at the tents, another cup of tea, then off on the flower patrol

Pic – 15 – A warm, and ready tenting area, with great views
Pic - 16 - Pic 22 “The flower show”
Pic – 23 – Time to contemplate an amazing place
Pic – 24 - Pool reflections

Back at the hut it was time to get supper together

Pic – 25 - “Water on Tap”
Pic – 26 – Lounge and kitchen – open air plan
Pic – 27 – Washing up time
Pic – 28 – Sleep well.

Despite some drizzle during the night, the morning broke clear and beautiful

Pic – 29 – Sun just kissing Giants Peak – best part of the day
Pic – 30 – If you snooze , you loose – shadows already on the mountain
Pic – 31 – Mountain Top reflection
Pic – 32 – Beautiful morning colours
Pic – 33 - Monk’s Cowl , Champagne and Cathkin Mountains far away in the Blue haze

A leisurely breakfast was enjoyed , then wet tents packed, and we were ready for the great scenery that awaited us on our way down Oribi ridge.

Pic - 34 – All packed up – “leave no trace” should be the motto – unfortunately some hikers still see fit to hide their waste papers under poles and nearby stone - FOR GOODNESS SAKE _ CARRY YOUR RUBBISH OUT – YOU BROUGHT IT UP !!!!!
Pic – 35 – ready to go – one last look at the Giant – then Cheers !!
Pic - 36 – The Tarn – beautiful and tranquil.
Pic – 37 – The “Giant’s Head , high above , but not far away ?????????

The path gets a bit lost in places , which could cause some consternation in poor weather, so take care , and take time to enjoy the sights

Pic - 38 - Looking towards Corner Pass
Pic – 39 – The Old Vulture Feeding platform
Pic - 40 - Down , down , down
Pic – 41 – A Grey Rhebuck looks up at us from the valley below.

Back at the cars , lunch was enjoyed, a shower taken , and we headed home. Without warning , a most violent hail storm attacked us, and caused several bumps to the body of the vehicle. To be caught out in the open mountain in such a storm would be a most terrible situation.

Pic - 42 - Hail on the ground
Pic – 43 – Hail in the lands
Pic – 44 - A great sunset back home after a wonderful , sight filled week end.

This hike should be done by more people , tenting offers one great opportunities to experience some out of the way , incredible places.

My thanks to my hiking companions , trust you enjoyed the week end as much as I did.