31 DEC 2014 - 2 JAN 2015

Report and photos by Keith Ashton

[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]

This was the 10th time Margaret & I have celebrated New Year in this cave & this time we were joined by Sarah-Lynn & sister Amy-Lee, Alistair & Cathy, Carolee & Becky, Hettie & Margret Kirsten & Margaret Robberts - a few staying one night & but most staying 2 nights.

We set off in mist & rain after donning our gear but were in very good spirits as it is only about 5 km to the cave & we were all looking forward to our celebrations from a spectacular spot & we were able to carry extra goodies to help us celebrate, inc good food, even Christmas cake & lovely sweets & chocolate, beer, sparkling & other types of wine, sherry, brandy & liqueurs just to name a few - I weighed my pack at 19.5 kg which nearly included the kitchen sink.

Soon we crossed our first fast flowing stream but no problem over the small timber bridge, then a short climb before passing Kamloops Dam. After the Dam (overflowing well) it was more uphill until we descended to the next fast flowing stream (same stream producing the large waterfall at the cave) - we were able to cross carefully in the mist & rain over the boulders without having to remove our boots.

Then it was onwards below the old look-out tower position (now demolished) towards the cave. The steep stony & slippery track down to the bottom cave had to be negotiated carefully - this caused a bit of stress to Cathy (especially in these conditions) as she does not have a head for heights, but with a bit of help she bravely made it to the cave.We were all wet on arrival in the cave but soon took our wet gear off & made ourselves very comfortable - then soon it was lunch time - however after lunch the weather was still very misty & raining so relaxation, socialising & playing games was the order of the day before our evening celebrations which culminated with a rousing rendition of "Auld Lang Syne".

On New Years Day we were up very early & after breakfast with a few of our party getting packed up & ready for home, we all set off back up the steep track from the cave to re-trace our steps to the stream crossing & here we bid farewell to four of our group with the rest of us continuing off the beaten track towards Caracal Cave, the intention then being to have lunch there then drop down to the valley & return via Fulton Rock & the very steep climb back, followed by a route directly past the old look-out tower spot & back to Aasvoelkrans - this we did starting in mist but with the weather clearing after about an hour.

The photographs herewith illustrate our time in the caves & our explorations. The third day we returned to Highmoor Office in glorious sunshine.

Thanks to all who participated in our hike & celebratrations & for your comradeship.

1. Geared -up to set off in the rain
2. Crossing the first stream by small bridge
3. About half way, crossing second stream - still in mist & rain
4. Group assembles in mist after second stream
5. Slippery descent to cave
6. Margaret & sisters Sarah & Amy comfy in the cave
7. Its still thick mist & rain outside so Allistair says let's have a beer
8. While the weathers bad lets play scrabble in the cave - note champagne etc ready for later
9. Carolee reflecting before we celebrate New Year
10.Cave with en-suite waterfall & pool
11. Off the beaten track route from Aasvoelkrans to Caracal Cave
12. Sarah photographing sister Amy still en-route to Caracal Cave
13. One of the many wild flowers -Vellozia viscosa
14. Colourful insect en-route
15. Lunch in Caracal Cave - 6 lovely ladies + Keith behind camera
16. Still in Caracal Cave
17. Descending from Caracal Cave - now en-route to Fulton Rock
18. Small section of Rock Art on Fulton Rock
19. Another small section of Rock Art on Fulton Rock
20. Very steep climb out of the valley from Fulton's
21. Margret photographs sisters Sarah & Amy after hard climb
22. Still climbing after the valley near Fulton Rock
23. View down to Aasvoelkrans Cave
24. Closer view of Aasvoelkrans - slept in lower cave
25. Note the two figures to the right of upper & lower cave
26. Margret K - still celebrating on 2nd night