MHC - 3 Falls Hike, Highmoor Nature Reserve, Central Drakensberg, EKZN Wildlife
10 March 2019

Report and photos by Dave Sclanders

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

Weather to go, or not to go, that was the question, and it was still the question 3 weeks later. Again the weather forecast was for a wet week end and as we were again going to tent for the week end, the question was as hard as before to answer. On Friday evening it was decided that those who wanted to take the chance would meet at Highmoor at 08h00 on Sunday morning. So now it was a guessing game as to how many would make it, as 2 of us would go up on Saturday morning regardless of the weather.

On arriving at Highmoor, the weather did not look good, so we managed to find a unused building, and organized to sleep there and not tent. After lunch, with clouds dark clouds above, we went to recce the 2nd falls that I had planned to visit on Sunday. The falls were not as high as expected, the valleys were green and inviting, but over at the Giant, heavy clouds had settled over and covered the Giant. Back at the hut a good cup of tea roused us enough to go for a wander to look down into the Kamberg Valley which now looked clear of rain. Hopes soared for tomorrow.

At about 19hoo, a terrific thunder clap shook the hut, and the rains came, torrential sheets of water, dramatic thunder and lightning, and the electricity went off. We wondered how many would arrive on Sundayas cell phone comms seemed to vanish.

Well by 06h00 the sky was clear, if a little overcast, but great for hiking. By 08h30 we had a good group of hardy hikers who had taken the risk and driven up to Highmoor .During the night we had had 44 mm of rain, and according to the hikers the road was badly damaged with plenty of rocks and trees on the road

We headed off to the first waterfall and valley, and what a sight. The water was gushing in a great white sheet filling the river bed and producing a wonderful spectacle . Further down the valley an outcrop of high sandstone rocks made a spectacular site up and down the valley.

We now headed south to waterfall 2 on my list, but as we climbed out of the valley and were able to see the Giant across the rolling veld and vleis of Highmoor, I decided to rather go to waterfall 3 as it was closer than waterfall 2. Looking down the valley towards waterfall 2 - we had recced there yesterday, the 44 mm of rain during the night had grown our little waterfall into a spectacular sheet of water thundering into the valley below. (Pic 10 - Saturday afternoon, Pic 11 - Sunday morning)

A tea break was had here, wonderfull views, and a great place in the middle of nowhere to sit and relax. One of our younger members decided to go down into the valley and get up close with the waterfall ( pic14)

The weather looked like it was holding, waterfall 2 was a good 3 kilometers away across the vleis or at least 4 by road, "so we decided to see what was on the other side of the hill", and if it looked worse we would turn around and flee home !!!.

This area is very flat, few ridges and a lot of wet sticky vlei grass land, with the odd visible stream to cross. Nevertheless, worth a good walk across pathless grassland. Well, they say, those who work hard get lucky, after an hour of tramping, across the valley, on a slight rise a number of large light brown animals could be seen moving. We had already encountered numerous Blesbok, and baboon, our hopes were high that it might be Eland, and the best of all they were walking in our direction. Sure enough, our keener younger eyes confirmed that there were about 30 eland across the valley. How exciting was that. I had not see so many Eland on Highmoor for a very long time , Smiles, and happy faces all round.

We crossed the moor went up and over the ridge where we could look down into the Impofaan Valley and across towards the crest of Lotheni , and up the valley towards Giants Castle massive. Here we stopped for lunch. The weather all around was building, so a decision was made to give waterfall 2 a miss, although it was only a kilometer away, it would have put us back in time to get out and home dry

Again , on the way home, we decided to take the shorter more direct route and join the road later. The rain clouds were building, it was getting darker, and the ground underfoot seemed to be getting wetter. Yet there was no rush as everyone was enjoying this great walk in the wilderness of Highmoor. Once we joined the road, the pace was picked up, but there is always a twist. Just up the road, a young Cobra was heading somewhere - maybe to find some higher ground , and so was not interested in us. The last hill was climbed, and we dropped down to th cars, tired, elated and relaxed after a good day in the berg.

By 14h50, the day visitors had hardly left the camp, when the heavens opened up again, and by 19h00 we had had another 30 mm of rain.

Any day in mother nature is an exciting day, if you get home safe. Remember, watch the weather forecast for the area you are in. It may be wrong, but it gives one clues as to what to look out for. Watch the sky, watch the clouds, take heed of what they are telling you. Sometimes rash decisions in the face of warnings Can make you cry.
April and May are some of the best months to be in the berg, cooler, not too wet, green, plenty of water, and days are still relatively long. Enjoy the next 2 Months.