Report and photos: Penny Purchase

18 hikers gathered at GROUND coffee shop just off Hilton Ave on a sunny winter day in July. Those doing the Whale Trail in September, were encouraged to come to get to know each other but not many were able to make it. However it was great to have 5 non members of MHC join us and get to know the seasoned hikers. Those who came were Rob and Nelly Melis,Loga Chetty, Denna Marriemuthu, Margaret Usher, Margaret Kirsten, Julia Preece, Debbi Wilkinson, Cathy and Alistair Nixon, Debbie and Sven Jager and Penny Purchase with new- comers Jan de Riele, Su Hesse, Kiely Hatchett, Hannie van Devente and Helen Parry.

I planned a zig zag route through the Mondi forests, following the cycle tracks that I use. Most of the paths were broad forest roads with some single track. After going through the tunnel under the highway, Loga told us that Alistair and Sven had returned to the car park at GROUND as Alistair remembered that he hadn’t locked his car …. and as a newly-wed, he dutifully returned to ensure the safety of his wife’s possessions and to escape her gentle wrath! As the leader, I decided not to split the group as they would not have found us in the forest. So we had a half hour wait in the warmth of the sun, an early snack stop. We were entertained by Hannie, a nutrition scientist, who explained to us why Tim Noake’s banting diet is relevant, not expensive and that it works.

There was a fairly steep hill through the young eucalyps, which led us to a broad road and to our snack stop. Here we overlooked John Fowler’s farm across a dam and to irrigated land and cattle grazing. The haze prevented us from seeing the berg although Nhlazane was seen. After a 20 min break we set out, past a housing development in progress called Castle View.

We crossed over the Hilton College Rd, past Callaho stud farm and up an exposed dirt track. We turned right into the forest again and came up to the Hilton College Rd which we crossed and re-gathered just before Grace College. The weather was really warm and not the predicted 17 degrees but more like 22 degrees.9 of the group, led by Sven, returned to the coffee shop along the road, as they had had enough of a hike. It was hot! We had all covered 9 kms to this point. The rest carried on down past Grace College and through the welcome shade of the trees and enjoyed weaving through the single track. Through the tunnel again and up into the forest, up Hayfields Rd and to most welcome coffee and cold drinks at GROUND.The time was about 12.30. The “stayers” had covered 13 kms! Debbie, in the return group, was especially delighted to have managed 10 kms and it gave her optimism for the Whale Trail.

It was an enjoyable, quite easy Sunday morning hike with the weather much warmer than expected. We hope those who were new, will be motivated to join us again.