Ntsikeni Nature Reserve, 1-3 March 2013

Report and photos courtesy of Veronica Henwood

Pat & Bushy, Mike & Dallas, Casper & Liz, Brian & Veronica, Dave, Sandy, Libby, Cheryl, Carolee and Christie

Email from Bushy reads,  Bring lots of warm clothes, cold weather expected. Meet at Creighton Station at 3 , bit difficult to grasp the  cold weather part as Pmb and the midlands have been having temps of 35 and up! But, in went the hiking gear, lots of fleece and thermal tops and beanies.

We all met at Creighton at 3 and because it was so freezing in Creighton, the hugs and hellos were short and quick. All wondering whether we had packed enough warm clothes. The 5 cars set off to tackle the 60 km to the Nature Reserve, once through the gate it would only be about 6 km to the cottage. A sign stuck on the fence at the entrance to the reserve caught our eye:  when wet, do not drive on the road . Little did we know that the area had a massive rainstorm the previous night and that the road had turned into a nightmare, made up of lots of mud, potholes that were filled with water and mud and lots of boulders all over the place! We soon found that out! With Bushy pulling out bakkies that ended up in the mud and dongas, Mike and Casper concentrating in following the right track, Dave and Brian pushing and shoving and building up washed away roads, cars driving sideways and slipping and sliding all over, mist and darkness approaching, we finely arrived at the Lodge, 6km and over 2 hours later! Cars covered in mud and all of us as well. The 5 drivers all passed their 4x4ing test with flying (mud) colours.

At the lodge we were welcomed by a smiling Dalu, caretaker, guide, cook and Jack of all trades. After settling in our rooms we all met again in the lounge where Dalu had made a huge fire. Enjoying a well-deserved drink and supper, plans were made for the hike on Saturday, to be lead by Bushy with the help of Dalu. Ten o clock was lights out and we all went to bed, hoping that there would be no further rain during the night as it would be impossible to get the vehicles out on Sunday.

Saturday we woke up to the most magnificent views and& & ..sunshine! After an early breakfast Bushy, Dalu, Brian, Dave, Libby, Carolee, Cheryl, Christie and Sandy set off to climb Ntsikeni Peak and the escarpment, planning to be back at 3ish.Pat, Dallas, Liz, Veronica, Mike and Casper stayed back at the Lodge. Sunshine, tea and cake was the order of the day, what we call: relaxing. Every so often we would spot the hikers doing what they do best: hiking. Just in time for afternoon tea and cake the hikers arrived back, having had a wonderful time looking at the scenery, birds and flowers. Supper was a braai, wonderful salads and a huge variety of yummie puddings, lots of laughs and a few drinks. Walks for the Sunday were arranged and 10 was lights out again. Sunday we woke up to even bluer skies and after breakfast the  Saturday group set off again, lead by Bushy. The  tea-totallers from Saturday set off on a walk through the vlei and forest, with Pat leading from the front. Both groups arrived back for early lunch and packing up started. After saying our fond goodbyes to Dalu we were ready to tackle the 6km back to the gate. So much easier and quicker when the road is dry!

Bushy and Pat, thank you so much for a weekend full of 4x4ing, hiking, eating and laughing and spending time with friends.