The inconspicuous nature of this mountain from afar perhaps accounts for it being awarded the unflattering suffix of “kop”. Those members of the SC section who climbed the mountain over the weekend will be left with no illusion as to its true “berg” nature and the respect it deserves.

Distant skyline 0712 Sat 11th May 2019

Skyline close up 0712 Sat 11th May 2019

Looking back 1530 Sun 12th May 2019

Our group of eight from far and wide assembled at Khomeesdrif campsite, Riviersonderend late Friday evening and after a chilly night, Saturday dawned bright and sunny. After an impromptu “weigh-in”, packs were loaded and we made tracks to field No 26 ( the trailhead ).

Under starters order L-R : Tony Bowen, Derek Odendaal, Sonja
Wend ( Stellenbosch section ), Evie Bowen, Maretha Alant, Elna
van der Walt ( guest ), Greg Devine, Leader: Ed Kay-Shuttleworth
( out of frame taking picture ).

It was always, and will remain, a dilemma with this hike whether to “tortoise” or to “hare”. We opted for a night under the stars, flapping tents and slipping and sliding off the ground mat. The downside was the full pack and the  relentless 6 hour climb of 920 metres in altitude / 5.6 kms distance ( = tortoise ). This hike has been done up and down in a full day ( 11 – 12 hours = hare ) but what chance to enjoy the hidden secrets the mountain has to reveal to those who care to explore ?

Water is a vital element in this decision and fortunately the Olifants river above which we camped was a good provider on this occasion.

An early start on Sunday saw five of our group breaking the trail before the sun was up and before 0930 we were atop the summit after a stiff 600 metre vertical ascent. Like an island rising out of the plain the summit affords views on all sides with the Langeberg and Hex stretching behind in the North to the East and West and the solitary Babylonstoren to the South.

Summit seat

Summit five ( photo credit Derek Odendaal )

Camp beneath the summit ( photo credit Derek Odendaal )

Window onto the Riviersonderend range to the West

Our descent was surprisingly quick and a breeze in comparison to the previous day’s ascent. The camp was packed up on our way down and by 12.30 we were heading for the bottom fully laden.

So what of the elusive “Scarlet Pimpernel” ( Gladiolus stokoei ) that is rumoured to frequent the slopes ? Well – we sought him here, we sought him there but he did what he does best – and he’ll keep us guessing ! We did enjoy some other secrets the mountain had to offer and a small selection are here below.

Painted Lady ( Vanessa cardui )

An unusual Erica ( Erica fascicularis )

Red Lipstick ( Endonema retzioides )

There had been vague talk at the top of the mountain about staying over another night at the campsite if our descent was delayed but this was not deemed necessary and most of us were home in good time.

Our sincere thanks are due to Stuart McLennan for kindly allowing us access across his property.

So lets just – “Feel the fear and do it anyway”.

Ed Kay-Shuttleworth – meet leader

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Angry man territory.

Team – Ed Kay-Shuttleworth ( Leader ), Clive Louw ( 2 IC ), Karin van Nierkerk, Greg and Cheryl Devine, Werner Frei, Ruth Powell, Ulrike and Bruno Baldzuhn and Jacolise Joubert.

In the annals of Western Cape hiking lore this three day hike is marked on maps as the Horingberg trail. Horingberg is a relatively innocuous mountain which at 1476 meters looms over the entrance to the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve. The clue to the nature of this hike lay in the name marked down in the Clubs meet sheet – “The Boosmansbos Wilderness Alternative”.
Fortunately most of the weekends participants were familiar with the term “Wilderness” and know that word carries a “health warning” ! But more can be gleaned from Boosmansbos which can easily be misinterpreted as meaning Bushman’s forest or bush. However that extra “o” ( Boosman / Bosman) carries a lot of weight and renders the translation from mere Bushman into “Angry man”.

Guardians to the Angry Man’s Territory along the Barrydale hiking trail.

And so it came to pass that early on a fine Saturday morning in late April ten fresh faced and bushy-tailed South Cape section members assembled at the start of the Barrydale hiking trail and dared to enter this “Angry man’s” territory. Deception and guile was already forefront in the leader’s mind as he had decided to approach from the North hoping to sneak in via the back gate. The Barrydale trail has suffered recently from neglect and Barrydale residents warned about the last few kilometres on the first day – we did find ourselves searching for the trail towards the end, just before we meet up with the Loerklip trail which is the normal Southern approach but this was mere practice for what was to come in the days to follow.

After a long walk the first night was spent either inside or outside the Helderfontein huts. Although we were self-sufficient in respect of roofs over our heads the difficulty was finding somewhere flat to pitch. Water was plentiful and the normal hut residents were noted for their absence. Our number had now reduced to nine after an early and graceful retirement had been forced on a member early on the first day. The “Angry man” was obviously making his presence known !

Helderfontein Huts – 5 * all season

Day 2 dawned warm and bright. A stiff climb ensued straight after breakfast and after two hours plus a little extra we found ourselves sitting atop Grootberg at 1637 metres surveying the world below and beyond in full 360 degree technicolor.

Grootberg summit

Sleeping Beauty lay off to the East, our overnight lodgings were down below and to the South blocking our exit lay Horingberg peak and its stunningly photogenic partner Noukranspiek. Descent off Grootberg was steep and slow and the “Angry man’s” presence was starting to be felt by all. A rest for lunch and some nourishment was not sufficient to revive the spirits of one of the team and shorty afterwards the decision was made to summon a whirly bird to facilitate a speedy exit for a night of observation and professional medical care. The decision was then made to camp exactly where we were perched astride a ridge facing directly onto Noukranspiek to the South and on the
distant skyline to the North the mighty Klein Swartberg on which the iconic Towerkop was clearly prominent. Replenished with water from nearby, and in nothing more to T-shirts we ate our supper and star gazed !


S.A.R.C.S Whirly bird arriving on the ridge top

Delayed the previous day, by what transpired to be 4 hours , we endeavoured to make an early start and were en route by 0745 on Day 3 knowing that the going was going to get tough. Well this was when the tough had to get going as the Boosman threw at us everything he had in his bag of tricks. Maps and GPS’s might have paths marked clearly but years of Garden Route growth had S.A.R.C.S Whirly bird arriving on the ridge top generated Fynbos exceeding the height of our heads and rendered those virtually meaningless. We knew where we had to go there – the question was just how to get there. The team dug deep into their reserves and after a late lunch near the summit of Horingberg we rounded the mountain to the South and saw our destination somewhere down there in the farmland 1200 metres below. The walk off the mountain was our final endurance test and after some 11+ hours as darkness fell we were grateful to have escaped the clutches of the Boosman.

Thanks to a supportive and forgiving team and especially to Clive for his pathfinding / bush-whacking skills as 2 IC, to Werner for the extra miles of ferrying and to Greg for remaining cool, calm and collected under the circumstance.

Thanks also to the 4 members of the helicopter crew who helped us out on a Sunday afternoon.

Now – where is that new map I just saw with Wilderness marked all over it !

So lets just – “Feel the fear and do it anyway”.

Ed Kay-Shuttleworth

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

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

Mountain Club of South Africa

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