Highmoor Nature Reserve
25 – 26 February 2017
Report and photos by Dave Sclanders.
[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]
(Unfortunately – I did not notice that my camera setting had changed when I put it back into the bag , so pictures 3 – 8 are fuzzy). Nevertheless, the scenery was magnificent for as far as one could see. A little later as we explored around the old cattle kraal, a huge build up of menacing, and warning bad weather clouds appeared over the Giant ( who had been pointing????) ( For those who do not know, there is an old African legend that says – “If you point at the Giant, expect bad weather”. As the lack of drinking water is a problem at Caracal Cave, we stopped on our way to the cave to take on extra water for the rest of the day and for Sunday. The view of valley below the cave was right up to Centenary Hut – if you knew where to look!!.
After lunch we went North along an old forgotten path to see where the cave was that we were to try and get to the next morning. This cave was an unknown cave that I had seen 2 years ago, and had planned to come back one day and an check it out. We soon saw it, down the valley and across the river. It was decided to go down the valley to the river and see if the cave could be accessed from our side of the valley. However, on getting down towards the river, it was apparent that the river valley was very deep and steep, and that some mountaineering with ropes would be needed to get into the cave from the river bed, or from the top of the ridge above the cave. So, that was that, Sunday was suddenly over.
Some decided to head back to the cave, and some decided to carry on along the ridge for a while. On the way back, we saw that the Giant, and the whole escarpment was now under a threatening rain storm, and as it started to drizzle, the wandering group arrived back at the cave, just in time .
Well, the rain came, the mist came, the temperature dropped, and to to long later, we were all in our sleeping bags listening to Margaret rendering her version of that old story of “Albert and the Lion”.
Next morning we woke to a very heavy misty and wet world. We enjoyed a slow breakfast, and packed up slowly hoping that the mist might start to clear. But nothing changed so it was decided to head for the cars, and get a early start home for lunch.
It is not much fun hiking in thick mist, the most important point is to stay on the path, and not look for short cuts along the way, and keep your group close together.
Pictures 4 and 19 taken from the same place on Saturday and Sunday.
As we had hiked out to the cave on a slightly different route on Saturday morning, some of the first time hikers felt a bit lost once we joined the path where we had not walk yesterday. However, the old cairn on the way put a few minds at rest.
The noise of the river that we had crossed on the old footbridge was loud in the gloom of the mist, and once on the bridge, the view upstream , that had been so pretty yesterday, was now a totally different setting.
Compare pictures 2 and 22.
Back at the cars, wet clothes were swopped for dry, soggy boots and hiking gear put into plastic bags and stuffed into the car trunks, and we were on our way home.
ALWAYS GO PREPARED FOR THE UNEXPECTED