Nhlasane Hike, Sun 23 May 2016
Leader: Brian Henwood. Report and photos by Penny Purchase

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

Group photo at Mount Park

A cheerful group of 13 seasoned hikers met at Piggly Wiggly eagerly anticipating our hike up Nhlasane, “the woman’s breast” with steep sides! Brian sorted out cars and transport and we drove through the beautiful Dargle Valley to Mount Park. Here we parked the cars and assembled for the climb.

It was a beautiful autumn day, just the best weather for hiking. We found the sign for the hike but we didn’t often find the trail! We didn’t take the direct route up but went at an angle across large tufts of grass always climbing higher. It was tough going with no path to follow. Brian pointed out the route upwards then it was head down as we negotiated the rough terrain and steep gradient. Brian remained surprisingly cheerful throughout. This was most admirable, considering the sometimes sarcastic, yet amusing comments coming from his most accommodating troop! He allowed plenty of rest stops, which made the climb manageable. It was also strategic, as it prevented a mutiny! Martin Gardiner was a true mountain goat, sorry, mountain man, scrambling over rocks and scaling rocky outcrops off the route, at speed. His family had farmed in the area so he was quite at home, as a mountain goat.

2. Snack stop with a great view over the Midlands
3. Steep slope for our snack stop
4. Morag admiring these tough little russet flowers growing out of the rock
5. Close up
6. Pink everlastings

We all reached the top of Nhlasane safely and our leader survived the mocking from his followers. We had wonderful panoramic views across the beautiful KZN Midlands. The lengthy lunch break and beautiful environment calmed our rebellious spirits and allowed our bodies to recover. Then, Leader Brian bravely addressed his troops on the two options for the downward hike – short, steep route or long, roundabout one. No vote was taken as there was a unanimous outcry – “the short, straight route down please!”

7. We made it! Group at the beacon on top
8. 5 hikers enjoying lunch at the top
9. Another 5 relaxing over lunch

With lots of good humour, we all started the descent. It was steep and rocky. Brian found a trophy, a long dried branch, which was carefully carried down, Penny a smaller one which tucked into her backpack. We all refused any suggestions by our leader, of possible quicker detours. We were soon at the cars at Mount Park. Neville and Carolee opted for beers at Everglades Hotel, the rest headed for Piggly Wiggly for refreshment. Some re-fuelled with pizzas, others with Frankie floats. It was a great hike – crisp autumn weather, a super group of good humoured hikers, and lots of teasing aimed at a leader who only occasionally lost his way! I’d certainly recommend the Nhlasane hike, especially with Brian Henwood.

10. Brian with his driftwood trophy ... and a Carolee lookalike gremlin peeping through.
11. Downward trip with great views of the Midlands hills and dams
12. Down down and homeward bound
13. Looking up - did we really get there? We did eventually find the path!
14. Nhlasane - the woman's breast up close and personal
15. Penny gazing up with driftwood souvenior in backpack
16. Brian and Chris hitting the road