6 March 2016
Report and photos by Dave Sclanders. Hike leader Katy Hart
[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]
We set off from the start point at the arranged hour, but already the sun was warning us of a hot day ahead. The first part was through a relatively cool wooded area, and quite flat. Then , it all changed – out of the trees, and straight into a long steep climb that went on and on and up and up seemingly straight up into the burning sun. The party started to stretch out, the fitter keeping their pace, the back markers changed down to 4x4 gear and speed. Meanwhile the leaders had time to take a break half way up the hill, and enjoy the views of the now drought affected Midmar dam in the valley below.
Once everyone had caught up, caught their breath and had a drink of water, it was onwards and upwards again. High on the horizon was a small black object – a lonesome tree on the highest point of our horizon. That was the lunch spot. The sun was now really shooting the mercury up the thermometer tube, with no shade , hiking was not pleasant at all. No one was looking at the view around, just head down, and keep climbing. . A very useful, but seldom carried or used piece of equipment is an umbrella. As one would know, our local people use them extensively for sun shade as well as rain protection.
Eventually the tree was reached, a really small tree growing amongst a pile of rocks. Not much shelter, and not much sitting space. However as the old saying goes “the early bird catches the shade”, the “dragglers”, had “lunch in the sun”, not much fun. So lunch was a fairly quick affair, but not giving the back markers much time to rejuvenate themselves. A last look at the dam, and Katy set off to climb another hill, which was the turning point of the day.
However, a change of plan was needed here, so she led us along the hill to the lower neck, where we joined a farm road, and followed that for a distance until it turned in the wrong direction. It was then back to small lost paths in the veld, through some pretty horrible scrublands, until we eventually met the farm road at the bottom of the valley. By now the group was quite stretched, the stronger ones headed for the farm café stall, and the back markers wishing the day was over. With the straight forward anxiety to get home quickly, there was no looking around, however, there were a few brave flowers giving a splash of clour in the otherwise drying hillsides.
When everyone had arrived back at the cars, it was time for some to head for home, and for others to sit and enjoy a good cup of coffee and scones at the farm café.
Thanks to Katy for organizing and leading the hike. It was just unfortunate that the sun chose that day to show off some of his strength.
To the first timers on the hike. Don’t give up, enjoy Mother Nature, it is where you will be your best.
Once again, hikers are reminded to make sure that they pack kit for any eventuality when going to the berg. Mother nature is very unpredictable at the best of times. Hiking in thick mist to a new area, is also not always the best idea. Stay on recognized paths, and if you do get lost, don’t blunder around looking for a way out. Sit and wait for the weather to clear.