8 March 2016

MHC  Cold Wet Tenting Week End
Highmoor Nature Reserve
Central Drakensberg
27-28 February 2016

Report and photos by Dave Sclanders

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

The Midlands Hiking Club week end was booked as a tenting week end, where tents would be pitched at the very quiet and secluded Highmoor Campsite , where 2 days of hiking to different areas would be done. Day hikers were also invited to attend either of the days.

Very few hikers showed interest in the Saturday hike, but a few more were keen on the Sunday hike. So the 3 of us who were keen to tent decided to go up on Friday afternoon, sort our tents out at leisure, and also not have to get up so early on Saturday morning to travel to Highmoor for an early hike start.

On the way up, the weather showed signs of changing to rain, so we speeded up our vehicle, went straight to the camp site and erected our tents as quick as we could. No sooner had we finished erecting the gazebo, then the rain and mist attacked us. It was agood time now to have tea and rusks.

After tea, the rain cleared and we had good views down the valley, and later we were treated to a brilliant sunset. Whilst we were having supper the rain stared again, and it was early to bed, with the rain and drizzle throughout the night.

Early Sunday morning, I was out of my tent straight into a miserable pea soup misty , drizzly , viewless space . I needed to confirm with the one hiker who was coming to hike with us, as to whether he was on his way or not. He was on his way, but said he was having trouble with the thick mist in the Kamberg Valley. He duly arrived , and as a potential new hiker, was sort of warmly welcomed to the club , and Highmoor. He put his head out of his vehicle window, said hello, then said he had not brought a rain coat, and he was going home. So that was quick and easy.

WE had breakfast , then went back to our tents with hot mugs of coffee , and waited to see if the weather would clear, as we did have hikers coming on Sunday. By 11hoo it was still pea soup and drizzling, so we decided to pack up and come home. Packing wet tents is never nice.

We arrived at the office at 11h45 to book out, and met a group from another hiking club who were going to Caracal Cave, in the mist. The leader was not sure if they would find water at the cave or not, so were prepared to carry water from the river just a few hundred meters away from the cars, all the way to the cave. We tried to explain to them, where they could possibly find water nearer the cave, but as they did not know the area to well, and if the mist hung on , finding water could have been a trick.

The mist at the office was still thick at 12h00.

On arriving home, I phoned the so the person leading the Sunday hikers, and informed her that we were home, and the Sunday hike was off.

Once again, hikers are reminded to make sure that they pack kit for any eventuality when going to the berg. Mother nature is very unpredictable at the best of times. Hiking in thick mist to a new area, is also not always the best idea. Stay on recognized paths, and if you do get lost, don t blunder around looking for a way out. Sit and wait for the weather to clear.