Hike leader Dusty Shaw

Photos: Various photographers

Weather: Clear

Hikers: 6

Total Accent: 523m

Length: 12km

Severity: 3

We all met up at the designated point on the P550, we then took a slow and dusty drive up to the Douglas Smith cottage and got ready for an exciting venture onto the Blinkwater mountain reserve. 
The reserve is run and maintained by a joint partnership with Ezemvelo KZN wildlife, SAPPI and Mondi
After a brief introduction and history lesson we decided to do the hike in reverse instead of the usual way up through the London plain trees alley.
 Melanie took on her role as sweep and we were off.
The trail had recently been cleaned but Mother Nature is very quick to reclaim what it had lost and some places the grass was starting to hide the path, never the less we ventured on. 
The old kraal was our first point of interest and the amazing stone walls that had been constructed without any mortar still amazed the group as to the workmanship involved.
We walked down the plantation road under the eucalyptus trees till we broke off onto the old rail track and crossed our first of many streams having to bend under an old tree that had fallen over the path many years ago and little bit further on we came across this wood fungus.
Making our way further into the indigenous area we came another stream crossing, being careful not to slip on any wobbly rocks
The climb through the indigenous area initially was gentle then we started to make our way upwards towards the rock faces.
Our first view of the rock faces was the Arch and hidden river that one could hear rumbling under foot.
A little bit further on one comes across this amazing wall of strangler vines clawing their way upwards through the rock to cling onto the trees above.
Another 100m we then broke free of the indigenous forest and we started the final accent through the zig zags and the shoulder high thatch grass, luckily the path was clear enough not to wonder off in the wrong direction.
Once at the top we found a good rock to sit on while we sorted our lunch out and admired the amazing view under clear skies
Once we all had rested had our fill we were ready for the final leg across the grassland and far ahead we could just make out Albert falls. Tracer belts had been burned in readiness for the main panel burns that Ezemvelo do every second year so as not to encourage erosion from over burning.
With the sun on our backs and a lovely cool north westerly wind blowing from the front made a very comfortable hike back to Douglas Smith Cottage through the London Plain trees.

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