Hikers participating:
MCSA members: Dave & Margie Barnes; Hugo Leggatt; Geoff and Lorraine Ditchfield; Tannje Strauss; Clive & Sandy Louw; Elaine Smith; Charles Smith; Eric & Margrit Brack; Hans van Ameide; Saartjie v.d. Merwe, Wolfgang Schneider
Visitors: Gilian Forbes, Nelia and Stewart Neill (aspirant members); Natasha Leggatt; Britney Margues, Morris and Gail Berghoff.
Grade: 1M, distance 14,5 km.
Permit: Wildcard needed.
Trail condition: Excellent, good path all the way.
The weather : perfect!
The group: 23 in total

The hike:
With 23 people it took a while before everybody had signed in and the permit was received. Luckily most of the hikers signed in as soon they arrived.

The first section of the hike goes through beautiful forest at the Perdekop trail. We turned off the trail at the bridge towards the valley. Here the fire caused major damage, it was clearly visible how the fire got into the forest by the gravel road, scorched the trees but didn’t burn the indigenous forest.  In the valley everything was burnt and it was a shock for me to see how little regrowth there was under the former pine trees. Probably because of the acid soil.

Luckily on the other side, the Redwoods were undamaged and again the forest was absolutely fine.

After a break we continued on the Harkerville trail in reverse back to Perdekop and the start.

For me, as a beginner meet leader, I was very happy to have Dave with me. He did a wonderful job as tail -end Charlie. And what a lovely group I had! Thanks everybody for making this very special for me.

Gonny Houtsma – meet leader – assisted by Dave Barnes

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Meet Leader: Evie Bowen
Hikers participating:
MCSA members: Cheryl & Greg Divine; Dave &Margi Barnes; Janet & Greg Moore: Erich and Margarite Brach; Wolf Schneider; Wendy Thompson; Elaine Smith; Ian Clarke; Geoff and Lorraine Ditchfield; Ann McGregor.
Visitor: Gill Forbes.

Grade: This hike was advertised as a Grade 2m – for the section from the Car Park to the old dry dock wreck, and a 2+M for the final section to reach the caves. Thanks to the creative ocean, tides and winds, much of the beach sand was missing, thereby exposing the underlying rocks. So the hike was upgraded to 2+M for the entire route – at no
additional charge!

At the Wreck our party divided into 2 groups – Group “C” to continue to the caves, while group “W” opted to return by the same route– Dave Barnes very kindly took charge of this group.

Hike distance: Full hiking distance was about 6/7 km. To complete the full hike (on this occasion) – it was the not distance that was important. A good body workout was achieved by all who took part in the full hike. There were countless ups and downs, and in and out movements, as we clambered over and along the rocks.

Access and permits: Public coastal land – no permits required
Trail Condition: Excellent. Wonderful section of Coast to hike. A “there and back” coastal walk. However Group C did follow a small additional variation taking a fisherman’s path up to a viewpoint and then a descent back to the coast rocks, before continuing to the site of the main caves.
Duration: We set off at 8.30am.
Group W – to Wreck and back – about 3 hours ++
Group C- about 4++ hours – arriving back at the car park at about 1.00pm.
Tides: This walk does need to be planned around low tide. Access to view the caves is only possible at low tide.

Here a cloudy start to the day – with the sun soon taking full control.
The full party below.

On this Sunday the water levels seemed very high. As we arrived at the first set of rocks, I decided I must have got the tides wrong. However, it soon became apparent that the sand I was used to along this section of beach had all but
disappeared. The last few months of high seas and storms must have swept all the sand out – the hike was very different to the last 2 occasions on which I had previously walked – in both Jan and May 2017.

View looking back to Glentana

The hike begins in earnest – scramble up and over – hands and sticky footwear were necessary.

Looking out of one of the caves –a short snack break – before returning.

This previously was a lovely beach with the chance of safe swimming in the waves. Today only a rock pool would have been an option. All in all, a bit of a chilly wind – thus no one was inclined to take a plunge.

And so on to our return – hands and feet back to work. Quite an adventure!

The old dry dock wreck – breaking up – very slowly as it has been here since 1902.

The end of the hike. And the beautifully decorated restaurant could not even provide a cold beer!!! What a blow.White wine had to make do!!

Thank you to all who supported this meet. It was a lovely day out – and the newly swept coastline – has I feel improved the overall challenge of the hike. Lots of fun. Thanks to Dave for helping with leadership skills, and Wolf for some of the pictures.

Evie Bowen – meet leader

We spent the weekend in the Langeberg Mountains, at Riversdale where the Sleeping Beauty trail is situated. Our hikers could choose from 2 options.
A. The Soft option: Evie booked a weekend away, overnighting at a self- catering cottage and campsite in the foothills of the Langeberg. The campsite was situated just east of the Korentepoort Dam on a private farm. 2 day hikes were planned. Saturday, to undertake the “Sleeping Beauty Peak trail “. While on Sunday a shorter hike in the area surrounding the Korentepoort Dam, and foothills of the Langeberg was on offer.
B. The tough option: Derek however wanted to do the full 2 day overnight backpacking version of the Sleeping Beauty trail. This involved gaining permission to overnight at the “Ou Toll hut” on Friday night, and walk through to the” Rooiwaterspruit Hut” for the second night.

Access and permits: The day hikes are currently run by the Riversdale municipality and no permits are needed. The overnight hike is officially closed – in the future it seems that Cape Nature will be managing this trail, and they are planning to re-opening the overnight version at some stage.

Trail Condition: The Peak path is in an excellent condition. The marvellous fynbos and views occurring along the path make this an exceptionally rewarding trail.

Evie’s Day hike report

Hikers: MCSA members: Cheryl Devine, Clive and Sandy Louw; Greg and Janet Moore; Tony and Evie Bowen. A visitor Yvonne – who lives locally, and is very knowledgeable about the plants – also joined us for part of the hike.

Thank you to our hosts – Wilma and Robin King for a delightful farm stay.

Evie Bowen /the softies group meet leader for Southern Cape MCSA

 

SLEEPING BEAUTY OVERNIGHT TRAIL – Derek Odendaal

I’ve been eager to climb the Sleeping Beauty Peak since I was a boy. My mother grew up in the Riversdale district and I came to know this mountain with the beautiful profile since childhood. It fascinated me, but I was always just travelling past it on the way to some holiday destination. After living in the Southern Cape for 6 years, it was high time to climb this mountain.
The overnight trail has been closed for quite some time and it was a mission to get up-to-date information and organise a hike on the trail. But persistence paid off and I managed to secure the huts and the trail for the weekend I wanted, right in the middle of the most fantastic Langeberg flower display.

Four other enthusiasts joined me on the overnight hike. We spent Friday night at the Old Toll hut in Garcia’s Pass and had a nice braai. Saturday proved to be a beautiful day for hiking and we made the most of it. On our way up to the Sleeping Beauty, Evie and her group caught up with us. They were doing day walks in the area and hunting rare plants. Three of my group climbed the peak and we then continued along “Oom Boet se Pad” towards Rooiwaterspruit hut. The Ericas and other flowers were a feast for the eyes. What a special day in the beautiful Langeberg! I was really delighted to find a few of the special Riversdale heath plants in bloom along the last stretch of the trail. It was a rather tiring day and we only arrived at the Rooiwaterspruit huts at 5 pm.

We took a shorter detour down the mountain on Sunday morning and thus concluded a wonderful weekend hike.
Group: Derek Odendaal, Jacomi Odendaal, Maretha Alant, Karin van Niekerk, Jacolise Joubert (guest)

The group, with the Sleeping Beauty peak in the distance

On the neck near the peak

On the summit of Sleeping Beauty

Hiking towards Rooiwaterspruit

A display of wild flowers

Erica blenna, the Riversdale heath

 

Our group of 7 hikers assembled on Saturday afternoon at Asante Sana private game reserve near Graaff-Reinet where we were greeted by out hosts Richard and Kitty Viljoen.

The giraffes came out in numbers to welcome us.

A collection of old souls was on hand as well.

Enthusiasm and energy levels were high, so it was agreed that alarms were to be set for 05h30 the next morning and after a braai around the campfire we all retired.

Assembled for the off
(L-R Greg Devine, Cheryl Devine, Maretha Alant, Ed Shuttleworth, Charles Smith, Gillian Forbes, Dennis Lange )

Sunday morning dawned without a cloud in the sky. We were kindly dropped half way up Waterkloof and from there the first stage of our hike commenced. We started at 1300 masl in fairly thick bush which gradually thinned out as we progressed along a jeep track. As we proceeded higher the cliffs above, which border the perimeter of the Asanta Sana crater, revealed themselves. Reaching the top of the kloof we emerged on a plateau and after crossing a neighbouring farmer’s boundary we proceeded across the plain which consisted almost entirely of short but very tussocky grass. This proved deceptively tiring to navigate especially when we tried to conserve height and contour round the valley on the return. It was only now upon reaching this plateau that our summit came into sight. The scenery up here can be best described as BIG COUNTRY and is very similar to that of the Southern Drakensberg plateau.

Emerging onto the plateau we caught our first glimpse of our destination.

Contemplating the BIG COUNTRY

Whilst the day was warm and very sunny we were cooled by a gentle breeze throughout the climb. The final stage of our hike was the last 200 metres which necessitated a clamber / climb over large angular boulders right to the top. The topography in this respect is, not surprisingly, very similar to that of Kompasberg which we were able to see from the summit silhouetted proudly on the distant horizon to the north.

A short rest crossing the plateau with our target ahead

Nearing the summit @ 2429 metres asl.

Soaking up the sunshine on the summit.

Seven of us set out and we all reached the summit which at 2429 masl is the second highest peak (after Kompasberg @ 2502 m) in South Africa outside the mighty Drakensberg. We spent about 45 minutes at the top soaking up the sunshine, views and enjoying our assorted snacks. For once there wasn’t the slightest hint of any cutting wind that would have pushed us off the top and we could have dawdled there all day were it not for the need to get back to from whence we had commenced.

Back to from whence we came

In total we spent just shy of 10 hours on the mountain excluding the ride to and from the trailhead. In that time we covered 18 km. It would only be fair to admit that after the days exertions the groups collective energy and enthusiasm was somewhat blunter than the preceding evening so we resolved that rather than tackling another peak (Skuwekop) we would opt for a shorter hike the next morning.

An early night allowed the batteries to recharge and when alarms sounded at 05h30 we were soon into, by now, a regular routine. Dropped at our trailhead some 5-6 km from our camp we completed a lovely circular walk around the Glen Haven valley. We completed this in exactly three hours and were packed up and ready for the drive home by 11 am – we set off to our various homes not before we had all made a mental note of which peaks we would like to climb on a future visit should we be lucky enough to be invited again!

Heading down the Glen Haven valley

More photos can be viewed by pasting this link into your browser: –https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B-T7J9meK3RISkNRRk9YdGJtV0E?usp=sharing

Ed Shuttleworth – meet leader

 

Quite a while ago, one of my much-younger climbing partners turned up at the crag with a new climbing rope. When I asked him how much it had cost, he said that he had pinched it from his father. His dad, he added, didn’t climb anymore. He went on to say that his parents were still quite active hikers, but “they only go out on prepared trails”. This last bit was loaded with something akin to contempt.

I was reminded of this the other day when, not only were we not going rock-climbing, we were actually going out on a “prepared trail”. The only thing that saves us from being totally busted down to rank of slack-packer or worse, is that the Arangieskop Trail is not your usual “prepared trail”.

The trail, situated in the Langeberg behind the town of Robertson, rises some 1150 metres on the first day, another 150 metres up to the summit on the second day, and then the whole 1300 metres back down again. It is all on a good, clear path, but it is very steep, especially down. The trail is managed by the Robertson Municipality and booking is easy, though getting a bit expensive at R352 each.

We spent the Friday night in the Dassieshoek House at the start, so that we could make an early start onthe trail. We left some clothes and food in the house, rather than in the cars, as we had heard that there had been some cars broken into. Reassuringly, there was no broken glass in the car-park and our cars were safe while we were away.

The top hut is superb, with fire-wood, water, a hot-water donkey, an external braai as well as an inside kaggel or braai. The only problem with the internal fire, as experienced on a previous occasion, is that the chimney rises through one of the bunk-rooms. The chimney leaks and gets very hot, so that room becomes a smoky sauna.

I had lectured everyone beforehand on the disadvantages of not having braai meat while everyone else did, but of course I had not taken my own advice. In the end it was only Ed who had brought meat, and he braaied it outside, so no one got really jealous.

There are two schools of thought about what is the right and proper time to have dinner in a mountain hut. There are the feed-your-facers who eat when they are hungry and for whom a dinner-hour is a mere construct. This group usually boil up a big pot of something and chow it down immediately. Then there are the fine-diners, who feel that one can’t eat before seven, or eight even. This lot cook up something fancy, with many courses, using lots of separately packed ingredients, such as a clove of garlic to fry in a pat of butter and a bit of milk to make a white sauce to go with the fried mushroom.

The split between the two groups is perfectly replicated at bed-time. The fine-diners are horrified at the idea of bed before 10 pm, as it’s “going to be a very long night”. Yes, it is going to be a very long night, all the more reason to get quickly into bed and spend the very long night in dreamland. Unfortunately there is always a third category, the faffers. This lot mean to eat and go to bed early, but by the time they have fiddled about it is actually quite late. So the top hut is a good place to observe mountain hut rituals, while being tired enough to go to sleep early and not mind the goings-on.

This is one of the best trails around, prepared or otherwise, and we really enjoyed doing it. Apart from a freezing wind on the summit, the weather was good and all went well.

The party consisted of Cheryl and me, Ed Shuttleworth, Karin van Niekerk, Joan Lourens, Maretha Alant, Derek Odendaal and Tony and Evie Bowen. The weather was fine and cool and we had a great hike.

Thanks to Ed Shuttleworth for photos.

Greg Devine – Meet Leader

 

 

Thirteen enthusiastic people attended this hike. We gathered in Ladismith on Saturday morning and drove the last few kilometres to the starting point on the Buffelskloof farm. The planned hike was not too strenuous, but some preferred to go up all the way to Nel’s Cave that day (1400 m ascend). The rest of us walked to the tin shelter, some 800 m up the mountain, in perfect weather. The shelter is small, so a few tents were pitched around it.

Barren Towerkop

The higher parts of the mountain burned down in March and it was still rather barren. But winter snowfalls and recent rain helped a lot to spur re-growth and germination of new plants.

The shelter group

A sky with brilliant stars added to our joy that evening. The night, however, brought a strong wind that almost blew our tents down the mountain. It was still blowing on Sunday morning. We walked up the mountain with day packs in gloomy, cold conditions. As we approached the cave, we met up with the four cave-sleepers as they returned from exploring the slopes and cliffs around Towerkop. They were making ready to head down the mountain again that same day.

The Cave party

We also followed the way around the cliffs of the Cave Buttress to the eastern scree slope, past the water cave, the view points, walking below some of the famous rock climbing routes up the Buchu Buttress and the two Towerkop buttresses.

Near Nel’s cave

The wind was still uncomfortable and cold, while the clouds still hung overhead and seemed to get lower. The planned circumnavigation of the higher peak was abandoned and we started back on the same route we came.

The pinnacle on Buchu Buttress

The eastern scree slope

After having lunch at the cave, we went down again. The wind subsided somewhat and the temperature became more comfortable.
Myself and Johan went east during the descent to a viewpoint and had a wonderful view of Elandsberg, Buffelskloof and the impressive rock arch down below.

The view towards Elandsberg from the high part of Towerkop.

Arriving back at the shelter, we found that some of the others in our group also went down the mountain (expecting bad weather), and six of us were left to spend another night at the shelter. The weather has improved and we had quite a pleasant late afternoon with sunshine and warmer weather.

The next morning we walked down the mountain and arrived at the cars before 12 am. The weather turned bad soon afterwards, with rain coming down. It snowed on the higher parts of Towerkop that night, so we were fortunate to have had rather good weather, despite the strong wind.

I just love Towerkop. Many others feel the same way. It is a challenging, impressive and magic mountain in a beautiful and dramatic part of the Swartberg. Truly one of the classics in the Western Cape.

People who attended the meet: Members: Tony Bowen, Evie Bowen, Maretha Alant, Karin van Niekerk, Derek Odendaal (leader), Charles Smith, Ann MacGregor (Cpt), Ed Shuttleworth, Janine Smith. Visitors: Johan Huisamen, Theunis Schutte, Wynne Groenewald, Jacolise Joubert.

Derek Odendaal (meet leader)

We arrived at Rudi’s farm, 30 kilometres outside of Ladismith, near the entrance to poort on Friday afternoon and enjoyed a braai under the afdak, watching gentle rain fall all around us.

The final plan was to hike through the poort on Saturday, camp at the exit point of the poort and return to the farm on Sunday by climbing out of the canyon and walking over the top, then back down to the farm in time for a late lunch.

We split into two groups, the day hikers were Bill and Di Turner, Tony and Evie Bowen, Fred and Nicky van Berkel and Joan Louwrens.  The overnighters were Greg and Cheryl Devine, Werner Frei, Ed Shuttleworth and Estelle Muller  (non -member).

The conditions were perfect for a successful hike through the poort with blue skies, no rain, good company and best of all very little water in the river.

We all started out together with Bill and Di in front,  hunting for elusive plants and Nicky at the tail end, also botanizing. Due to lack of water in the river we were able to walk in the sandy and rocky river bed for some way then climb out onto the bank and continue with very little vegetation to impede our progress. At the first “puddle” of water, where wading was necessary the day hikers, except Joan, decided to turn around and head back. The best was yet to come! The poort soon turned a corner and all the splendour of the kloof was revealed. The side walls narrowed and we were able to examine, up close, the incredible rock folds and enjoy the changing colour scheme of rock before us from gold to rust to red.

Joan turned back soon after as a few pools of water were now appearing. We spent a bit of time navigating around water, over steep rocky hills to avoid avoid water and not having to take off our boots again. We set up camp on a sandy bank at the end of the poort. Total time 7 hours, total distance 14.6 kilometres. There were lots and lots of animal tracks and spoor but not one sighting.

 

Sunday the happy campers were on their way back to the farm, a mere 6 kilometres away. We found a good line to climb out of the poort, it was little steep and had bit of loose rock at the beginning but then we were on a smooth, clean rock scramble to the top. Of course, the top is never is never the true top, so after climbing a few more “tops” we flattened out on plateau before hitting the first of several gullies, big and small before reaching the final steep, rock-sided kloof. It took us a few false starts before we found a safe way in and out of the kloof. The final ascent was to a ridge overlooking the poort, before Greg guided us expertly down a few more gullies, then the final, final descent to the farm via a steep, vegetated, thorny cliff.

A very relieved Rudi was there to welcome a tired, scratched and bleeding, successful party back after a wonderful weekend in the Klein Swartberg. Total distance 10.2 kilometres. Total time, a very underestimated 8 hours.

It is very hard to grade an exploratory meet. I would grade this as 4, but conditions in the poort are always changing.

Meet Convener’s grading:
Day 1: 2+M, the M is allocated because half the hike a recce
Day 2: 3H, the H is allocated because all of this day’s hike is a recce.

Cheryl Devine – meet leader

The group consisted of 7 people – Stewart Stiles (leader), Christine Stiles, Tony Bowen, Greg Moore, Charl du Plessis, Greg and Cheryl Devine. The weather could have been a bit more co-operative with the skies overcast and the threat of some rain.

The group set out just after 07h00 from Witfontein.

We reached the saddle between George and Cradock Peaks just after 10h00 where we had a brief stop. Shortly after departing for Cradock Peak the rain started and three of the party decided to call it a day. Luckily for the remainder the rain stopped quite soon, but, visibility was not the greatest.

We summited Cradock Peak at about 11h30 where we had a quick lunch.

Then a quick trip to George Peak which was summited at approximately 12h30.
We headed back down to the cars and the hike ended at approximately 16h00
Thanks to all those who attended the hike.

Stewart Stiles – meet leader

 

(L to R) Clive Louw, Norman Cooper, Fred van Berkel, Elsa de Villiers (visitor) Not in photo: Charl du Plooy, Tony Bowen (meet leader).

 

Summary. The hike starts at “Sputnik” carpark near the top of the Outeniqua Pass. This is where the group photo above was taken, looking south. Vensterberg peak is the one just left of centre, and is higher than the un-named peak in the photo to its left. After crossing the highway, the route follows the ridge line on a path to the peak. Currently the path is well used and clear. It goes up steeply requiring scrambling and near the summit is a short section with exposure. Grade 2 ½M.

The hike. We set off from Sputnik at 8.30am in good weather. While some clouds moved across the peak, it was mostly fine and clear. We took it slowly, summitting at 11.30 a.m. and were back down at the cars at 2pm. We encountered two other groups on the mountain, signalling its popularity.

Elsa at “venster”.

“Happy days are here again…..”

Tony Bowen – meet leader

 

 

 

Hikers: Greg Moore, Clive and Sandy Louw, Tony and Evie Bowen, Janet Moore, Margie Barnes, Wolf Schneider, Gonny Houtsma, Janet Byrne.
Meet leader/photo man, Dave Barnes

The hike was originally scheduled as  Beervlei to Hoogekraal River, part of the first day of the Outeniqua hike. However, on Friday 7th, when checking with the Ranger responsible for area, I was strongly advised to cancel because of the fire risk due warm winds which were forecast, and because there had been minor flare ups in that particular area.

Rather than cancel altogether, at the eleventh hour I substituted “Monate” hike.

Most of the hikers who were listed for Outeniqua decided to hike the substitute.

The “Monate” hike begins at the Monate housing estate west of Herold ’s Bay. Fortunately, the representative of the resident’s association is well disposed to Mountain Club, and we are able are able to access the coastal path by traversing the complex. It is necessary to have the code for the locked pedestrian gate. It is possible to access the coastal path from Herold’s Bay, but this difficult due to recent erosion and neglect. It is also difficult at anything other than a very low tide.

This is an easy hike, out and back, a distance of 11 km, 293 metres vertical ascent, and took a total time of 4.5 hours. The hike is easiest at low tide, and not safe at high tide. Apart from a short section of clambering down to the beach, it is on a well-maintained path which crosses the Oubaai property. The turning point is at an attractive deck on the rocks, an ideal picnic spot.

On the day of hike it was initially sunny, later becoming misty.

By the time we gathered for refreshments at Dutton’s Cove it was clear, warm and sunny.

Dave Barnes – meet leader

Mountain Club of South Africa