Date: Sunday 14 August 2016
Leaders: Carolee Thompson, Dave Sclanders
Report: Penny Purchase
Photos: Penny Purchase and Carolee Thompson

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

15 hikers gathered at Piggly Wiggly on Sun 14 Aug, some young, new faces and some old faces. The new ones were twin sisters, Pippa and Jo and Heather. The other hikers were Carolee, Dave, Neville, Inge, Linda, Phillip, Craig, Margaret, Eric, Darryl and her daughter, Amy, and Penny. Carolee did the organising and we set off in 4 vehicles for Satori. The owners of Satori kindly let us park below their house.

Before we set off, Dave Sclanders delivered some crisp words of advice to the newcomers about tie-ing their laces tight. He advised us to keep together and not to form a strung out line, as had happened before when we did the hike from Satori. When Carolee asked for a volunteer to be a sweeper, a forest of hands shot up - mainly from those not feeling too frisky that morning, some doubting their fitness for the steep ascent and others just wanting a slower pace! Penny, Phillip and Craig did the job with Dave sometimes falling back to check on slower ones. Besides Carolee and Dave leading, we had 3 other cheerful guides – 3 lovely black Labradors from Satori!

A barbed wire fence and a river crossing were the first obstacles – everyone continued with their private parts intact despite some close shaves and nobody got wet as the river was so low. There was no direct path up Nhlosane from this angle. Dave decided on the route and we obediently followed, secure in the knowledge that Dave’s vast berg experience, would save us, whatever happens. The ground was very dry, covered in low bushes, with a only few trees along the streams. The weather was kind to hikers, sunny and cloudy with a little wind to cool things to 20 degrees. Winter time gives us great hiking weather in the Midlands!

It was tough going, always climbing, but the pace was slow and camaraderie high. Several snack stops helped the slower ones to catch their breath. Suddenly, we were on top. The beacon however was not a pretty sight, being festooned by raggedy old underpants and torn socks – the Michaelhouse boys had left their trophies! The 360 degree view across the Midlands farmlands and dams was spectacular, although a bit hazy. Looking towards the berg on the far horizon, we could clearly see the thick layer of snow that formed a white blanket over the Lesotho mountains. Photographs of the “Virgin Nhlosane Summiters”, Pippa and Jo, were taken, under the beacon. The rest of us were veterans. We enjoyed our lunch on top and rested our weary legs. Neville shared his water with our Labrador friends.

No 2 Down to the river, loosening up the legs
No 3 River crossing, easy when there's a drought on
No 3a (Carolee's pic) River crossing , carefully does it
No 4 Another crossing over a stream on a stone bridge
No 5 Dave pointing the way to Eric and Linda
No 6 "Now we know the route- we trust Dave!- we're ready to go"
No 7 On the top, Carolee, Darryl, Amy and Margaret
No 8 the 2 virgin Nhlasane summiters, Jo and Pippa
No 8a (Carolee's pic) Eric and Linda relaxed and gazing at the rich Midlands farmlands and dams from the top
No 9 View across Midlands farmlands to the berg

Then the descent, Dave leading us more or less the same route as we came up, except near the end where we skirted around some wattles. Harder on the knees as it was constant downhill. Linda and Heather were battling a bit so Dr Neville came to their rescue by offering them Re-Hydrate, a powder mixed with a cup of water. This revived them for the final leg. The different river crossing was a pleasant experience across big flat rock stepping stones. We all survived the barbed wire fence traverse again, despite some playful shudders of the wire!

We stopped for photographs at the Satori entrance with its birds-in-flight paintings. We did NOT feel like birds in flight, however, when we did the tough little climb up the dirt road to the cars. Photographs of the “Happy but Haggard Group” were taken before we bade farewell to our 3 black canine friends and to each other. Back at Piggly Wiggly, some of the group stopped to re-fuel with pizzas, beers, and drinks. Thanks to Carolee and Dave , and the pleasant group of hikers, for another lovely winter day hike in the beautiful Natal Midlands.

Nhlosane Hike in Numbers:
15 happy hikers, all making it to the top
7.5 kms covered
534 m elevation climbed
1948m altitude of Nhlosane beacon
5 hours hiking
09h00 we left Satori
14h20 we arrived back at Satori

No 10 Watch it across the wire, Carolee. That man in blue is full of tricks!
No 11 Dave makes the traverse across the wire with all parts intact
No 12 nature has a way of surviving even in a drought
No 13 Yellow gazanias surviving the harsh winter
No 14 2 hiking birds, Heather and Inge, amongst the birds!
No 15 Tired but still smiling! The entire group summited Nhlasane, the mountain behind us
No 16a Satori homestead