THE AMBERS DAY HIKE - 2 DEC 2018 (Amber Valley, Amber Ridge, Amber Lakes and Amber Lee - 15ks)

Report courtesy of Rose Dix, photos and comments by Keith Ashton

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

LEADERS - Keith and Margaret Ashton. Other participants :- Linda Payne; Peter Wedge; Sharyn Ragbir; Carolee Thompson; Vasha Thakur; Andy and Marlise Pepperell, Trevor Gaymans; Roseanne Dix

There are some people who think that driving 230 km to hike for 15 km is a very strange undertaking. However, if you are a Midlands (Durban South) member, you yawn your way up from Durban without a second thought. A long drive though misty rain proved, as always, how worthwhile it is to hike "The Ambers" with Keith. A truly superb hike - The Ambers showing off with verdant spring colours.... The newly budded Brunsvigias replacing the recent Boophones. ...The soft pinks of Dias Cotinifolio (pompom trees) adding their splendour to the shaved lawns...

Keith's hikes are always so well planned as we hiked through pristine grassland, surprising 5 baby warthogs , and a doe-eyed Reedbuck whose tiny inquisitive daughter peeped at us from under her Mamas protective belly. We skirted a wetland, nosy with weavers and bishops and two complacent woolly-necked storks who watched us from afar. Bird hides have been built and Bird Books are available to those who wish to tick off their lists in peace. These are the delights offered in this suburban wilderness.

And so from Amber Valley, through to the neighbouring Amber Ridge, where large tracks of land are reserved for wild indigenous growth and not for housing. Having clambered up all the very steep, long hills which Keith could find, we came to an idyllic lunch spot - straight out of a Constable painting. We relaxed and made new friends and chatted to the accompaniment of a gently rippling stream. And everything so GREEN!

Having completed the circuit of 11 ks, we were scheduled to visit Amber Lee - possibly adding another 5ks of puffing up hills and so when the pedestrian gate was locked against us due to power being off all day in Howick (would normally have been opened by Margaret's Ambers Electronic Card), we all tried to look crestfallen, but surreptitiously quickened our pace as we headed back for tea, coffee and Margaret's delicious Parkin plus almond and chocolate cookies. No mean feat to provide refreshments for 14 tired people when one hasn't had electricity all day, but in true "Camper Style" , tea was indeed served, piping hot and oh so welcome. And how lovely to catch up with some old friends - Christie Exall , Dave Sclanders, and Noel Harper looking radiant and strong.

However, the euphoria fades on that "Highway to Hell" and once again I question my sanity of not buying at The Ambers - but - will be back for the next hike of course.

Yet another, Absolutely, Awe-inspiring, Amazing, Ashton-Affair (!!) Thank you so much., Keith and Margaret.

Rose Dix

1. Our group ready to go - Andy doing a Keith one leg pose
2. A male and some female Nyala in the distance
3. Nearly at the top of another hill
4. Peter looking happy as Sharyn looks on
5. Peter making sure his feet are still there as others take a rest

6. Another short break at Keith and Margaret's donated bench - as Rose and Christie cavort
7. Warthog piglets having a good feed
8. A reedbuck mum warning her baby hidden in the grass
9. Baby reedbuck now happy under its mums belly
10. A few of the more than 80 blesbok in Amber Valley

11. Not indigenous but still colourful - self seeded
12. Approaching Amber Ridge Main Gate area
13. Peter training for his forthcoming hike in Ethiopia
14. Enjoying our scenic lunch spot - Peter still training
15. Andy and Marlise enjoying their rest

16. Margaret, Sharyn and Vasha enjoying a rest and lunch
17. Peter still training for Ethiopia
18. A red bishop coming into breeding plumage
19. Brunsvigia just starting to flower in various Ambers areas
20. Enjoying tea, coffee and cakes - a nice way to finish a hike