UMGENI VALLEY HIKE with Keith and Margaret Ashton

Report by Rose Dix with photos courtesy of Keith Ashton

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

To a non-hiker, the word “HIKE” probably features in popularity along with “Diet”and “Sars””…but to this small band of outdoor-junkies, it is the elixir of life. The morning euphoria of greeting old friends – of lacing up trusty boots – of listening to ones leader detailing the new hike – this indeed is the stuff of which (hikers) lives are made.

Keith, our fabulous Midlands Club leader, took a varied group on a spectacular hike through Umgeni Valley, Howick. The soft colours of late winter; the early morning chill in the blue air; the few early brave spring flowers; indeed, so much to be grateful for.

Keith led us to varying view points with fascinating commentary on the salient points of how water gets from the bottom of the impressive Howick Falls into the thirsty taps above. He is an excellent leader who imparts his vast knowledge of his surroundings to our eager ears.

We hiked on well maintained paths to the still functioning Indulo Camp where we stopped for a brunch break – catching up with old friends and exchanging stories of our latest adventures (hiking, of course).

Then it was heading back along an easy track, adjacent to the river – a magic walk filled with bird song, golden grasses and soft afternoon light – the treasures that we city-dwellers rarely experience.

The final slog up through a winter carpet of rustling,colourful leaves, with huge old stones forming an easy stairway to the top where we finished our lovely hike with sightings of wildebeest, blesbok and some friendly zebras.

A truly magnificent winter hike with 32 interesting people from all 4 clubs…14 of us from Durban Ramblers, who think nothing of travelling 200ks to hike 15 – what better way to spend a Sunday.

Thank you so much Keith and Margaret and Midlands Hiking Club.

1. Setting off on our way to Shelter Falls
2. Dropping steeply down to Shelter Falls
3. At the top of Shelter Falls - please don't jump - water too shallow
4. Two wildebeest enjoying the walk in front of us
5. Looking down into the valley & the Umgeni River
6. Everyone nice & warm after a short climb
7. Starting our descent towards Indulu Camp
8. Part of our large group enjoying lunch at Indulu Camp
9. Carolee having a bonding chat with her son Tremayne

10. Hi down there from the top of Sunrise Rock
11. Maricia with her 4 sons on top of Sunrise Rock
12. Descending the Sunrise Rock ladder
13. Last man down except for photographer
14. Peg-leg Harry seems to have grown a third leg - as Rose & Jenny are amused
15. Legs now getting a bit tired after a steep climb out of the Valley
16. That was a good hike as we get closer to where we started
17. A Fish Eagle checks that we all got back safely
18.Tristan - Youngest member of the Bezuidenhout family of 4 - rides the Rhino