Report and photos by Keith Ashton
[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]
As this is always a popular hike we had 24 participants including Cecil who is Manager of Production at Everdon Estates & the rest of our group included, Margie, Sue, Peter Comrie, Neville, Chris, Carolee, Sharyn, Linda, Eric, Julia, Cheryl, Rhona, Astrid, Daryll, Amy, Christa, Fanie, Vladimir, Heather, Sean, Peter Wedge, Margaret & Keith.
The hike started from the dam uphill along a farm track before more climbing up a lovely grass slope where we soon saw loads of warthogs. We had a large happy group & the weather was perfect (but a bit hazy) for our easy pace without too much early heavy breathing which allowed the participants to chat & get to know each other. After more climbing, bodies were warming up quickly & it was time to strip off during a break & to admire the beautiful scenery all around us. Cecil knows virtually every nook & cranny of this very large avocado plantation & cattle grazing area & it was easy for him to point out all the hills, mountains & places of interest surrounding this lovely venue.
After about 8 km we had a break for drinks & snacks at a lovely rock on the escarpment looking down into the Karkloof River Valley far below with magnificent but hazy views of Karkloof Falls in the distance as well as a panoramic view towards Albert Falls Dam.
After the break was a serious uphill with plenty of heavy breathing & not much chatter, but then it was steeply down with good views of Karkloof Spa - this is a marvellous reserve with luxury accommodation & all you would expect (and more) including indoor & outdoor swimming pools, Jacuzzis, wet rooms with sprays from every angle & dry rooms with sauna - game drives are included & several Thai Masseuses are there to pamper & rejuvenate you - Pity is, very few can afford this luxury.
En-route we saw many warthogs & had several "near misses" as they dashed out of their holes - Some advice when walking near a warthog burrow, walk behind it & not in front - if the warthog is frightened as you pass, it could dash out & easily accidentally severely cut or break your legs.
Then it was downhill again & through some lovely indigenous bush which included bush tunnels, a bit like an obstacle course. We eventually reached the promontory looking down to where the Karkloof River joins the Umgeni River as it makes its way towards Albert Falls Dam. Next we made our way to Cecil's lovely rustic but comfortable home made "Shack" where we enjoyed a relaxed lunch in beautiful surroundings - Karkloof Falls could just be seen through the haze from the shack veranda.
After a good break & lunch we continued on our way back to the start of the hike at the dam, passing a herd of cattle & several zebra. For information we did 14 km & climbed over 430 metres.
Many thanks to Cecil for giving up his precious time to lead this outstanding hike & to all our participants for your company & friendship.
1. Our large group taking a break after our first hill
2. Our second rest point to relax & enjoy the lovely scenery
3. Another part of our group resting & chatting under a tree
4. Sections of timber allowing to air-dry to reduce oven drying time
5. Peaceful scene in the distance - top of the hill our destination later
6. Its getting hotter as we descend towards our snack spot
7. Arriving at our scenic snack & rest spot
8. Cecil, Julia & Margaret getting ready for snacks
9. Still enjoying the lovely views down below
10. More of our group spread out enjoying snacks
11. A close-up of Margie, Astrid,Chris & Peter W - with Neville, Peter C, Heather & Sue in background
12. After snacks its a steep climb & a fence to negotiate
13. Still a queue to get under the fence as Vladimir rises to the occasion
14. Still more coming
15. Some are more elegant than others
16. Once the steep hill is climbed its down the other side
17. Making good progress down the hill
18 . Linda still looking very happy
19. Margaret emerges from the bush obstacle course
20. Strung out but on our way again
21. Cecil's famous secluded Shack
22. A closer view of Cecil's Shack - please don't ask what goes on there
23. Getting closer to the Shack for lunch time
24. Amy & Neville getting through our last fence with Cecil's assistance
25. What a view from the veranda of Cecil's Shack - Karkloof Falls in the distance
26. Chris & Carolee enjoying lunch
27. Heather looking very happy after a good lunch
28. On our way again after a good lunch stop
29. Albert Falls Dam in the hazy distance
30. Another rest stop with Vladimir training for his next hard hike
31. Sharyn not to be outdone also gets some serious training in
32. On our way back to our vehicles
33. A peaceful dam near the start & finish of our hike.
34. Back at our vehicles after a great hike