MHC & MBP Clubs
Exploration Hike
Simon’s Cave
Giant’s Castle
Central Drakensberg
21 - 22 September 2013

Report & Photos courtesy of Dave Sclanders

When Giant’s Castle Game Reserve was first proclaimed in the early 1900’s, The first Officers and Field Rangers lived in caves in the mountains until permanent housing was constructed. One of the field rangers – Simon lived in a very isolated cave for quite some time until he was moved to base camp area. His “cave” was forgotten about as it was so “out of the way”. Various hikers have tried over the years to find this cave, without too much success, as it is not marked on any map. I was fortunate in that many years ago I was given some directions by a field ranger as in which area to look in. With all the steep valleys and cutbacks, and hidden rocky areas, it was like going to look for a needle in a haystack. Some years ago, we did go to look for the cave, also on a wet and cold week end, and some of the party did find the cave, I had injured my ankle badly and could not go down to see the cave myself. Now the time was again ready to go back and find this cave.

The weather forecast showed a “wet and miserable Saturday, with a better Sunday”. We met at Giant’s Castle in very horrible weather conditions, but decided to push on anyway. Everything was wet, the heavy mist was hanging low to the ground so visibility was very limited, not the visibility that you want when looking for a needle in a haystack. We could not see any familiar landmarks, and walked blind for most of the morning.

Pic 3 Nice weather for ?????????
Pic 4 Where are the rest of the party ??
Pic 5 Some are happy, some are not

There is always some beauty in every day that we live in, and in dryness of the berg winter, a misty hazy day, the vegetation all wet, somehow the beauty of browns and flecks of white of heath and misty valleys were quite spectacular – despite the wet and the cold, and that gnawing question – where are we ?

Pic 6 , 7, 8 Beauty of a wet , misty, winter landscape

We found our old camping site, dropped our packs , some had a quick wet sandwich, and we set off to find the cave. From the previous visit years ago, we knew that maybe 2 people could sleep in the cave, as the roof had collapsed into the cave a long time ago. Keith and Margaret were determined to sleep in the cave, and as such had not brought their tent with them. NO PRESSURE to find this cave in these terrible conditions. We eventually reached the cave, had a short rest, and left the two cavers to sort their lives out , find sleeping places amongst the jumbled rocks in the cave, and find water.

Pic 9, 10 11

We headed back to our dropped backpacks and tents and put up the tents in wet rainy, very cold miserable conditions. By the time the job was done and we crept into our “havens” every stitch of clothing was wet, and we were really freezing cold. 16h30 Hours we were all in our sleeping bags until 07h00 the next morning.

Pic 12, 13, 14, 15 Home is were you are warm and dry !!!!!

The “cavers” were to meet us at 08h30, so judging the time to get dressed into cold wet clothes from the previous day was tricky and horrible. Needless to say – it was still raining . Timings were good, and by the time Keith and Margaret arrived , we were just about ready to roll.

Pic 16 , 17 Breaking camp in the mist and rain.

We took a shorter route back to the cars, and fortunately the rain stopped, the mist lifted to some degree and by mid morning, we were hiking happily along.

Pics 18 – 24 On the way back, some more happy than others.

Pic 25 Giants Castle Camp in the valley

As we always say, go, prepared don’t try to outguess nature, it will be a bad experience. And while this week end does not read to be much fun, it does give one something you cannot buy anywhere, or learn from anyone else – that is “EXPERIENCE” it also builds great friendships.