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We arrived on the farm Sitruspoort (20 km outside Swellendam) on Friday afternoon and set up camp below the towering Langeberg.

The group: Ed Shuttleworth, farm dog (she hiked with us the whole day and limped along on Sunday!), Tony Bowen, Greg Devine, Evie Bowen, Jacolise Joubert, Cheryl Devine, Maretha Alant and Clive Louw.

Saturday morning we hiked along a jeep track and eventually along a footpath into the mountains. The distance we covered to a disused hut in the mountains was 10.22 km with an elevation gain of 573m. On the way back – 294 m and distance 10.22 km. Thanks to Ed for the stats.

Ed, Clive and Jacolise bundu bashed the last 500 m to the very overgrown hut. The rest had lunch next to a stream before hiking back.

The hike took about 8 hours and 30 mins. We ended the day with a swim in the dam.

Evie demonstrates a novel way of getting through a wired farm gate

The weather was perfect and the views magnificent. Some pictures to give an idea of the hike.

Pristine fynbos and flowering proteas

On Sunday we hiked to cell phone towers on the farm.

Out: 2.72 km . Lowest point 200 m, highest 437 m.
Back: 3.36 km (with a bundu bash along the river).

A very relaxing weekend in the mountains! Thanks to all who joined.

Karin van Niekerk – meet leader

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We had a more than expected attendance as follows i.e. Members: Wolf Schneider, Erich and Margrit Brack, Toni and Evie Bowen, Werner Frei, Saartjie van der Merwe, Fred van Berkel, Clive and Sandy Louw, Sanet van Meersbergen, Marianne and Peter Halbsgut, Dave Barnes, Maretha Alant and me plus guests Christa Joubert and Ruth Powel. 18 Hikers, a record for this hike!

The weather was perfect, what more do you want. We parked our vehicles and started from the Nature’s Valley Rest Camp at 09h00. We walked across the Groot River bridge and proceeded along the lagoon towards Kalander Hut. From here we climbed Pig’s Head for our morning coffee/tea break and continued through beautiful fynbos along the start of the Tsitsikamma hike until we reached Kovie settlement. Here we turned east towards the coast on an easy track for about 20 minutes. The track then suddenly ends and becomes an initially densely overgrown path going down, but then followed by an easy track down for 30 minutes. We then found the densely overgrown track leading towards the coast which we reached around lunchtime i.e. 13h30.

Fortunately none of us suffered any injuries on our way towards the coast. The scenery there is impressive and so beautiful and subsequently we had our lunch on the high cliffs above Helpmekaarsmond with great views along the rugged coast to the east.

After lunch we proceeded to Nature’s Valley with magnificent views of the coastline for the following 5 km.

We had to get across the Groot River, which presented no problem at all. Thereafter we proceeded back to  Nature’s Valley Rest camp where our vehicles were parked.

Total distance, estimated from GPS is 19 km and we reached our destination around 16h30.

A very satisfactory hike with friends, with sufficient exercise to feel that lovely after-hike feeling.

Hans van Ameyde – meer leader

The Baviaanskloof is one of those special areas in the South African landscape: remote, scenic, diverse, fascinating – and we will never discover all of its’ secrets. We were priviledged to visit this valley for four days and enjoy good weather. Only 9 days before our arrival the Baviaanskloof River became a raging torrent and caused considerable flood damage to farms, property and the main road. It also flooded our campsite at Bo-Kloof and the owners had just enough time to get it dry enough and suitable for use. The area had some good rains during the past few months and the valley was as green as it can be.

We were 19 people attending the meet: Derek & Jacomi Odendaal, Tony & Evie Bowen, Peter & Susan Pyke, Fred & Nicky van Berkel, Greg Devine, Clive Louw, Karin van Niekerk, Ed & James Kay-Shuttleworth, Werner & Cheryl Frei, Irmela Kohlsdorf, Sanet van Meersbergen, Saartjie van der Merwe. Guest: Linette Swart.

After arriving on the Wednesday afternoon and settling into the camp site, we enjoyed a sociable and “fulfilling” evening around the campfire. On Thursday we exercised our human right to walk in the mountains by exploring two nearby kloofs. Waterkloof is one of the most spectacular ravines in the valley, with towering rock faces, amazing large trees growing on the cool and shaded floor and a long and narrow fissure through the ancient rock.

Boesmanskloof is a wider ravine and less remarkable, but also worthwhile to explore. After that, we visited an overhang with very interesting rock art. We were all pleased that the hike ended at the BaviJaans Padstal, where cold drinks and eat ice-cream could be enjoyed, sitting in the shade. On our way home, a few of us also bought some of the delicious honey produced by the bees of our hosts, the Bezuidenhouts.

On Friday we drove some distance further east into the valley to get to the higher parts of the Baviaanskloof Mountains. We followed a rough jeep track from near Doringkloof and hiked up almost 800 m to a communication tower at 1242 m asl. A nice variety of fynbos plants and great vistas of the Baviaanskloof and Kouga Mountains made it a worthwhile hike. A few of our group members also explored the close-by Klipspringer Kloof.

Saturday saw us exploring another deep and dark kloof, not too far from our camp site. Spitskloof also boasts with towering cliffs, huge trees, narrow sections and great scenic beauty. A number of large Willowmore Cedars could be seen growing high up on the cliffs. We also found a fallen cedar in the bottom of the kloof and I broke off a piece of wood for a keepsake. What a nice smell! The afternoon was rather hot and we preferred to stay in the shade at camp until sundown.

On Sunday morning we packed up rather unwillingly. A few more days in this remote and uncomplicated environment with no phone reception or news from the outside world would have been nice. However, on our way out of the Kloof, close to the Nuwekloof Pass, we had another kloof to explore. Saagkuilskloof is rather different from the others but no less spectacular. It is more open, with wonderful towering rock faces and huge Willowmore Cedars to be seen. And I have never seen so many frogs in and around the small ponds!

I think our Section should visit the Baviaanskloof more often for meets like this. There are many camping sites and other places to stay, and so much more to see and experience. So far we have only scratched the surface of this wonderful valley.

Derek Odendaal – meet leader

 

Members came from far and wide for this meet – Jacolise all the way from Still Bay, with others from George, Sedgefield, Brenton, Knysna and Plett. We were 19 in total – this must be a record of some kind.

After meeting at the De Vasselot campsite in Nature’s Valley, we regrouped into 4 cars and drove up the Groot River and down the Bloukrans Pass (along the old R102 road). This is a beautiful drive and well worth doing even if one is not planning a hike (or swim). At the old bridge in the Bloukrans Pass we changed into our ‘kloofing’ outfits, which for some meant wetsuits, while for others a simple pair of shorts and T-shirt sufficed. Footwear was various, from sandals to specialist kayaking shoes to running shoes. Back packs, dry bags and plastic shopping bags were used to keep belongings dry – some less successful than others.

When we started the weather was fine, but down in the deep kloof we were still in shadows. The water was surprisingly warm, and we leisurely made our way through deep pools, rocky shores and sandy banks through dense foliage down the river. There is no official route, so one could choose either bank or the middle of the river as a route, or any combination. Greg stayed mostly on the banks, while Lezlie swam almost the entire way.

The scenery is truly amazing – deep gorges and crags on either side, magnificent trees and vegetation, and if one looked closely, the beautiful red George lilies could be seen.

Loud music, accompanied by piercing screams could be heard as we got closer to the Bloukrans Bridge, and the world’s highest bungy jump. We spent some time watching the jumpers from below, while drying out in a sunny spot.

From there it was not too far to the river mouth, but by now it had clouded over, and the wind was blowing up the gorge, so after a quick lunch and photo shoot, we started back up the river.

Luckily the wind dropped, and the sun came out again and by the time we all arrived back at the old bridge we had warmed up again. Then it was back to Nature’s Valley to retrieve our cars and go home with aching muscles and bruises from the unaccustomed exercise.

Lessons that I learned from this outing:
1. Make sure your dry bag is dry (and stays dry!) My cell phone got so wet that I had to buy a new one on Monday!
2. Make sure you have sturdy footwear. First the sole of my one shoe fell off, then the sole of the other one fell off and floated down to the ocean, and then the shoes started disintegrating to such an extent that I only just made it back to the start. Needless to say they were thrown away as soon as I got home!
3. The rocks in the riverbed and along the banks are slippery, so take a nice stick as a third leg along.
4. Go slowly and enjoy the trip!

The people who attended:

Members: Hanna Edge (leader), Evie Bowen, Greg and Cheryl Devine, Jacolise Joubert, Charles Smith, Terry, Maretha Alant, Lezlie Jenkinson, Susan, Eugene and Avril Fichardt, Clive Louw, Marianne and Peter and Fred van Berkel

Guests: Maretha’s friend Marina Botha, Lezlie’s two friends Caron and Laurel.

Many thanks to everyone who came and enjoyed!

Thanks to Eugene Fichardt for the photographs and Maretha Alant for the group photo!

Hanna Edge – meet leader

This coastal scrambling route is just outside Knysna, but is seldom done because it involves some technical scrambling, and is only possible at spring low tide. This summer the spring low tides did not coincide with the weekends, so the meet was arranged for a Thursday. I was advised that midweek meets are not popular despite the fact that most members are not economically active during the week. So there were 3 participants Clive Louw (leader), Ed Kay-Shuttleworth and Greg Moore. The weather conditions were fine and we had a good time.

From Sparrebosch we followed the Fisherman’s Walk, which descends through indigenous forest down to a pleasant little bay on the coast. The lower section of the Walk was destroyed by the Knysna Fire of 2017. This damaged portion has now been repaired and the trail is open to the public.

After this the route to Coney Glen becomes more interesting with rock scrambling where it is exposured in places. There are also rock crossings right at the shoreline that are exposed to the waves.

These pictures tell the story!

After climbing through a huge rock arch, there are still a few tough rock steps to climb until one finally reaches the Knysna Heads.

The route was finished with a refreshing swim at a small beach at the Heads, and we were not able to drive past the Bosun’s Pub without having a celebratory beer.

Clive Louw – meet leader

As per usual, when leading river swims and hikes, the weather is a huge factor on what the day will bring, Saturday was no exception. A thunder storm rumbled, and lightening lit the sky on Friday afternoon dumping a bit more water than usual into the Kaaimans. Undeterred, 12 members and 4 visitors hit the trail from Saasveld campus and headed to the river via the start of the Groeneweide Trail. After crossing the river, we headed up to the weir and pump station.

There is a lot of criss-crossing of the river either on rocks or sandy bottom. Those fortunate enough to have long legs managed to get their knees wet but the shorties were wading waist high in a few spots. The rocks were slippery in places with a bit of slipping and sliding and the occasional fall taking place.

Fortunately, broken bones, stretched tendons or ligaments were avoided, bruises however may have surfaced on Sunday.

Where possible, we would leave the river and walk along the bank which was grassy or rocky underfoot. Evie decided to swim along the way while the rest of us had a bite to eat and drink. After about 3-4 hours in the river the pump station was in sight and a very bedraggled but unscathed group exited the water.

Both soles on Evie’s shoes decided to part company and were held together by Karin’s spare shoe laces. Wendy’s shorts were so tattered and torn they were abandoned on the way, leaving her to walk out in her costume, Eugene also had a sole problem but managed to keep his sole intact for the duration of the walk.

On arrival at the weir it was swim time for most of us and we gingerly slid in the clean, soft water and swam through the narrow gorge to the small waterfall and back. After lunch and a short snooze in the sun (no guesses for who that was), we hiked up to the main road going past the student houses, and to the campus.

As we approached our cars the heavens opened and had us scurrying in all directions to prevent getting wet!!! After hurried goodbyes, see you soons and wet air kisses, we ended a most satisfactory day.

The people crazy enough to join me on an overcast day with rain threatening were Charles and Lindsay Smith, Avril and Eugene Fichardt, Fred van Berkel, Clive Louw, Maretha Alant and friend Marina, Lezlie Jenkinson and friend Katey, Karin van Niekerk, Tony and Evie Bowen, Wendy Thompson, Terry Hime, Greg and Cheryl Devine (meet leader).

A big thanks to Greg for leading the back markers in the right direction and for picking out so many black wattle and
blackwood seedlings along the way.

Cheryl Devine – meet leader

It was a cold and chilly start for the first meet of the year. The swim was supposedly going to be a warm, leisurely meander down the Kaaimans, from Strawberry Hill to Wilderness. Very rarely do things go according to plan.
Eight hardy souls arrived on the day to tackle the river, all but two arrived in wet suits. The very keen adventurers were Clive Louw, Peter and Susan Pyke, Charles and Lindsay Smith, Joan Louwrens, Greg and Cheryl Devine (meet leader).

The track from the farm down to the river remains in excellent condition. After a pleasant, shady twenty-minute walk, we had our first sighting of the river. The conditions were not ideal for a nice float and walk, stop and gossip on the way trip. The level of the river was high and the flowing fast. Undeterred, we wet suited up, except for the water warriors Susan and Peter and jumped into the river and were very quickly swept up and on our way.

Clive led the group and managed to find the most suitable crossing points for us to use. The going was challenging at times, having to cling on to anchor points to prevent being washed away. Thanks to an excellent team effort we managed to arrive at our destination with skin intact and no bones broken, much to my relief. However, it was not all hard work, we had a lunch spot and managed to find a little sunshine and a rest spot out of the wind.

I think by the time we reached the bridge to exit the river, we were all feeling the cold and more than ready to don dry clothes and return to the farm for a warm drink and a welcome braai fire.

While we were tackling the river, Di was leading her group on the Fern Trail. The group consisted of Sandy Louw, Dave and Faye Jones and two prospective new members. The river was flowing a little too fast to make safe crossing, so their walk was curtailed a little but was enjoyed by all.

The best was yet to come. A braai, catching up on all the comings and goings over the festive season and sharing a glass of wine or two…..

Many thanks to Di and Bill Turner for opening their home to us once again and allowing us access to the river over their farm.

I thoroughly enjoyed my day out even though I was totally wrecked the next day, feeling as if I had been through a washing machine the day before.

Thanks everyone for joining in the fun, I hope we can do it again next year.

Cheryl Devine – meet leader

On Saturday the 10th of November 2018 we did a circular walk from Fisanthoek Hut and back.

In the group:

Members: Gonny Houtsma (Meet Leader), Fred van Berkel (photos), Evie Bowen, Sandy and Clive Louw, Mike von der Heyde, Romy Foster, and Ann Mc Gregor (Cape Town section).

Guests: Hillary Appelgryn, Patrys van der Walt, and Estelle Leonard.

Stats: Distance about 9 km, an easy grade 2M walk, mostly on jeep tracks and sections of the Outeniqua Hiking Trail.

Report: Everybody gathered at the beginning of the path to the Fisanthoek Hut: Outeniqua Trail. From there we started on the track towards Garden of Eden.

When we reached the Petrus-se-Brand mountain bike trail, we followed that in reverse until we hit the road. Halfway we met three cyclists, luckily one of them was the husband of one of our group, so they knew we were on the route. We stopped for a snack, at the intersection of Petrus-se-Brand and the jeep track back to the hut.

This was an ideal time to browse through the flower books to ID some of the interesting flowers seen earlier.

A songololo, a lunch guest, was most intrigued with a piece of carrot!

After that we followed the road back to the hut.

It was a nice walk, with lots of time for talk and laughter.

Coffee at the Coral Breeze Café at the Sasol garage afterwards.
Thanks everybody who joined me!

Gonny Houtsma – meet leader

We did this hike last in 2016, before the famous fires of June 2017. During that terrible day most of Brenton-on-Sea burnt down, but now 18 months later, Brenton is as beautiful as ever. However, I had to modify the route somewhat because parts of the route had become inaccessible due to the path having eroded badly after the vegetation was burnt.
We met at the Nautical South restaurant at Brenton-on-Sea where a pretty little bushbuck female was peacefully browsing on the lawn.

The group consisted of:
Members: Hanna and Dave Edge, Hans van Ameyde, Fred van Berkel, Wolf Schneider, Peter Richmond and Ewa Szewczenko (henceforth known as Ewa with the impossible surname).
Guests were Jen du Toit and Kevin Factor.
Unfortunately, our esteemed president, Dave Barnes, got his times wrong and was still eating breakfast in Sedgefield when we set of just after 9 o’clock.
We first went back up the road and turned right into Steenbras Street, where the group photograph was taken from the view site.

From left: Dave Edge, Jen du Toit, Hanna Edge, Hans van Ameyde, Kevin Factor, Peter Richmon, Ewa, Wolf Schneider. Fred took the photo.

We then descended to the sea via a rickety set of steps, and followed the old fishermen’s path to the east, until we reached our first beach (locally known as Die Blokke beach). Here Fred gave us an interesting chat about what the coastline looked like 100 000 years ago when the sea was about 30 km further south than what it is today. He also pointed out the cave where the 100 000-year-old fossilised hominid footprints were recently discovered, found in the roof of the cave. One couldn’t really see the actual footprints as one has to slide on your back all the way to the back of the cave to be able to see them, and this is a bit claustrophobic. Along the beach it was also possible to see other footprints of animals on the slabs of fossilised dune sand.

Hanna going down the rickety steps

Walking along the fishermen’s path

Fred explaining

At the eastern end of this beach are the rocks known as Die Blokke, which are made of Table Mountain sandstone. From here Table Mountain Sandstone continues all the way to the Heads to the east, whereas the fossilised sand dunes go all the way to beyond Mossel Bay in the west. Here we climbed back out of the bay using another set of steps until we reached a footpath cutting across the slope below a private housing estate. A little way further we descended again to the next bay, called Vaalkom. The path here is very steep and has a very loose surface, so a lot of slipping and sliding and hanging on to vegetation was done.

Starting to go back down again

In Vaalkom we visited a cave a short way up from the beach, which was probably inhabited, and sometimes still is, judging by the amount of black mussel shells around. This was a convenient break for snacks and a drink.

The cave with fresh water

We reached this point exactly at low tide, so it was easy to skirt around some rocks and through a gulley to reach the next bay, where we had to turn around as both the routes out of the bay to the top of the hill were impassable due to soil erosion.
To avoid going up the steep, loose path back to the top, we did a detour around the rocks where Ewa with the impossible surname got a crash course in rock scrambling, acquitted herself well and got to the top safely.

Going through the gulley

Rocky bits

Our next stop was the Brenton Blue Butterfly Reserve, where Dave gave a short talk on the history of the reserve, and the efforts to look after the butterfly. The Reserve burnt down completely during the June 2017 fires, but the vegetation has recovered remarkably. No Brenton Blues were seen yet as it is not quite the right time for them to emerge, but we are holding thumbs.

At the Brenton Blue Butterfly Reserve

Four hours after we started out we ended the hike back at the little restaurant. It was a most enjoyable hike and thank you to Fred and Dave who were willing to give us some insight into the geology and ecology of Brenton-on-Sea.

Quenching our thirst

The route and profile

Thanks to everyone who came and to Fred for most of the pictures.

Hanna Edge – meet leader

 

 

Location: Between the Grootrivierberge and the Witteberge just North of Willowmore
Date: 19-21 Oct 2018
Meet Convener (Hike Leader): Chris Leggatt – celebrating 30 years of MCSA membership.
Members: Chris Leggatt, Fred and Nicky van Berkel, Dave and Fay Jones, Maretha Alant, Ed Kay-Shuttleworth, Dennis Lange, Werner Frei, Greg and Cheryl Devine, Charles Smith.
Guest Appearences: Liz Bazin, Andre Knoetze, Sineke Schmidt, Ariadne van Zandbergen, Hanlie Steyn.

This meet followed a similar pattern to the meet of 28-30 Oct 2016. The group met in Willowmore at roughly 3 pm on the Friday and drove in convoy onto the farm… and luckily we did. Although the minor wash-aways on the track to the farm were manageable by all the vehicles, the long wheelbase of the Jones’ converted ambulance was enough to get it grounded like a see-saw on a drainage hump. After some minor road adjustments we were on our way again and reached the farmhouse with no further incident.

Saturday saw the main party of 14 set off for the high ridge of the Witteberge, while Greg and Cheryl went on a climbing expedition to test some of the clean slabs to be found in the valley and Nicky went in search of post-fire fynbos growth.

The main party set off up the gorge behind the farmhouse just after 8 am. At the first rock scramble, Dave and Fay felt it was prudent for them to turn around and explore some of the flatter walks in the area and so it was that our party continued as 12 all the way to the summit.

Most of the main party at the start of the day

Our hosts at the dry waterfall

After roughly 40 minutes we reached a dry waterfall, which until recently was a natural dead end for anyone exploring that particular kloof. However, up the slope to the right of the waterfall there is now a well-placed bolted chain traverse which makes it much easier to access the upper reaches of the catchment area. Only one member of the party made use of the chest harness with cowtails attached to the chain (useful piece of safety equipment on that route), while the rest of the party felt safe enough to continue as is.

Once passed the chains we headed up the slope to the west and onto the saddle for a tea break. Cloudy skies and a cool breeze kept the temperature just right and we were thankful we weren’t in one of the heatwaves that can start forming in the area at this time of year (the following week temperatures rose to the high 30s).

The Chains

Starting up the long slope

After tea the party continued up the ridge and by 10.30 am we were looking across the Great Karoo, watching whirlwinds kick up spinning towers in the sea of dust between us and the mountainous islands near Graaff- Reinet.
Interestingly, the addition of the chain traverse (and the lack of any serious vegetation due to a recent fire) saved at least an hour from the route that we had used 2 years prior.

Up…

up…

and away.

Having reached the ridgeline earlier than expected, we enjoyed a second tea, before deciding to follow the ridge to an alluring rounded peak to our west. What a lovely walk that was. At some points the ridge became fairly narrow with steep drops on either side and there was even a precarious rock scramble just before the final summit (which we reached around 12.30). At roughly 1400 m the summit offered magnificent 360 deg views and made an ideal lunch stop.

Lunch on top

Leaving the summit

After lunch the knee jarring descent began. We skirted around the upper slopes of the catchment area 2 kloofs west of the farmhouse with the idea of dropping onto the ridge west of the one we had used to ascend; however it became evident going straight down into the kloof would be easiest. From the summit back to the Farmhouse took between 3 and 4 hours. Some weary souls sat around the fire that night.

The following day dawned bright and breezy. While some of the party headed for home, a small group explored the valley floor to the east of the farmhouse. We didn’t succeed in finding any new rock art sites (which was part of the reason for the walk), but we had a lovely walk through one of the kloofs cut by the main river course. We stopped for tea under some amazing slabs which look fantastic for a future climbing meet.

After returning to the farmhouse in the late morning, we packed up and left for home, with one small group making a quick detour to some recently discovered rock art on the edge of the farm.

Tracks from day 1 and 2

Profile day 1

Chris Leggatt – meet leader

 

Mountain Club of South Africa

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