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

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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

Meet Leader: Evie Bowen
Hikers participating:
MCSA members: Sanet van Meersbergen; Ed Shuttleworth; Norman Cooper; Cheryl & Greg Devine; Karin van Niekerk; Dave &Margi Barnes; Clive and Sandy Louw; Gonny Houtsma; Janet & Greg Moore.Visitors: Jan Rossouw; Noemi Shuttleworth and friend Analyn Knight
Hike duration: about 7 hours including stops
Hike distance: about 20 km. Our total assent to get to the highest point of the day i.e. the Saddle was 980 m. This includes the “up and downs “, as saddle height is only 932m high.
Grade: 2m
Access and permits: Self permit issue can be obtained from the Witfontein forest Station.

Trail Condition: Wonderful path along the entire length of the actual footpath. The lower
section of the hike follows a jeep track.
The footpath however is only suitable for hikers!! – it seems that on the same afternoon/evening some horse riders had lost their bearings in the area. My understanding is that – responding to the “Saasveld” sign near the hut, they attempted to walk their horses along the narrow trail section below the Hut. This section has the odd very narrow and exposed “drop offs” from the path, and is intended for hikers – so obviously not wide enough for horses! According to the George Herold the horses slipped, were benighted, and had to be rescued by mountain rescue the following day.

Duration: We set off shortly after 8.30am. By midday most of the hikers had made themselves comfortable for lunch on the Saddle and we finished around 3.30pm. The actual walking time was around 6 and ¼ hours, while the hike duration lasted for 7 hours.

The route: The trail starts from the top end of the Saasveld University campus. From here a jeep track leads up the mountain to the Tierkop hut. An option of the route at a higher level is to follow a foot path off to the right, this meanders through super mountain scenery to reach the hut. From the hut, a trail is available to reach the saddle., and on this occasion, we returned by the same route. This path is known as the “Trans Outeniqua Trail “, and the
trail continues from the saddle to eventually meet up with the Montague pass road.

Description: We had a wonderful day out in the mountains. Luckily for the hikers there was no fire damage in this area.
See the photos!

A chilly start to the day.

Both Cradock Peak and Clive are all smiles today.

Mimetes pauciflorus – known as “ flame pagoda” – special markers along this hike.

The wonderful views and varied aspects of the surrounding Outeniqua mountains. Note the excellent trail condition.

Lunchtime treats on the saddle.

Thank you to all who supported this meet.
Thanks to Norman who supplied we with some of the stats!

Evie Bowen / todays meet leader for Southern Cape MCSA

Hikers:-
Janet and Austen Byrne, Janet and Greg Moore, Romy and Mike v d Heyde, Gill and Dave Manley, Magriet and Eric Brack, Wolf Schneider, Elaine Smith, Wendy Thompson, Werner Frei, Margie and Dave Barnes.

Just before reaching the start, those in the lead cars had a good sighting of a bushbuck family. The weather was ideal, a perfect Garden Route autumn day.

The group of sixteen started and completed the easy pleasant hike through the somewhat dry indigenous forest, all as oxygen charged afterwards as if we had spent time in an oxygen tent. It was a surprise that the hike took only 2.5 hours, including stops, for the advertised distance of 9 kilometres. There were unfortunately no GPS to verify the distance.

It was interesting to meet a group of hikers, mainly youngsters, all from the Eastern Cape, who believed that they were doing the Outeniqua trail, heading for Millwood hut! They in fact did the circles hike in reverse, and later ended up at the start where our group was relaxing at the braai. After a rest at the picnic spot they happily set off on the road for Millwood.

Many of the party stayed for the braai afterwards. Thanks to Eric for the fire. The facilities at the picnic spot are all in good order.

Dave Barnes – meet leader

From apple orchards in Waboomskraal,
through the unspoilt Doring River Wilderness Area,
this circuit is special and filled with much variety.

Hikers :
MCSA members – Gonny Houtsma; Janet & Greg Moore: Wolf Schneider; Erich and Margrit Brach; Clive &Sandy Louw; Dave & Gill Manley; Wendy Thompson; Karen van Niekerk; Hannah & Dave Edge; Amelia Spargo; Werner Frei; Fred & Nicky van Berkel; Tony& Evie Bowen.

Visitors/ new membership – Sanet van Meersbergen: Ed Shuttleworth

Hike statistics: Hiking distance is 15.1 km, consisting of numerous up’s and down’s. This path was originally laid to be walked in an anticlockwise direction. This enables the group to reach the swimming hole for lunch. We however, walked in a clockwise direction. This entails a longer uphill section (which can be rather steep on the downhill) and ensures reaching the Peak of the day around lunch time to make the most of the good views.
Our total ascent and descent for the day along an undulating path was about 1266m.

Grade: 2M for most of the way- small rocky sections as one reaches the Peak.

Trail Condition: The trail is in good condition. Most of the original yellow markers are very faded or non-existent. Since the fire of 2 years ago the main ascent from the river is a little more difficult to find- however it is noticeable that previous hikers have been marking the path with good sets of cairns.

Access: Is along a Cape Nature servitude next to the farm called “Imbezza” in Waboomskraal. There is some limited
parking along the road before the servitude is reached. Self-issue permits are available at Witfontein Forest Station.

Duration of the Hike: We spent about 5 hours on the hike. Start time: 9.15 am / Finishing time: between 2.30 to 3.00 pm/this included breaks for snacks along the way, and lunch on the Peak. As no one swam no swimming time was included!!

Let the hike begin.

Hike description: the views are billiant and amazingly varied throughout the trail.The pool level was distinctly low – probably due to the drought situation- most hikers missed even seeing the pool! We set a good pace on the downhill gravel jeep track to our first teatime snack. However thereafter the uphill assent to the peak had the group very spread out. Tony as our sweep for the day ensured that we all reconnected for lunch in the vicinity of the peak.
Peak height is 1107 m.
A leisurely pace ensued for the mainly downhill sections thereafter – with some of the group shortcutting across the
Fynbos and rocks, then descending steeply to Amelias house. The rest of the group found the path less of a slippery
experience.

Thanks to the hospitality of Amelia – we all gathered on her stoep to continue enjoying the stunning views of the area and some cold refreshments. This is where the hike ended. It seemed to the meet leader that a great day was had by all.

Enjoying our first snack of the morning -knowing that the
mountains shown here await us.

The slower uphill section

Ed and Wolf – Hanging out at the Peak

Janet and Greg and the rest enjoy lunch just below the peak

Views looking to the horseshoe mountain known as Camphers Berg, and a rather pensive Amelia in a turquoise hat

Lucky for us – this particular day our Doring River day’s hike ended on a STOEP!!
Thank you to all who supported this meet. Also my thanks to Ed for the” Mountain Panorama” photo and Nicky for the group shot.

Evie Bowen – Meet leader

 

Instead of walking from the Robinson Pass to the Attakwaskloof Hiking Hut, we decided to walk in the reverse direction, starting from Perdekop Farm.
The starting time was brought forward to 07.30 as the temperature was predicted to be quite warm and fifteen people assembled bright and early for the start. Eleven to do the full trail and four the half trail.

The party consisted of Bill & Di Turner, Tony & Evie Bowen, Dave & Gill Manley,
Clive & Sandy Louw, Karin van Niekerk, Cheryl Devine, Robyn Reid, Janine Smith,
Brigitte Aubery ( guest ) and Janet & Greg Moore.

On the gate to the Attakwaskloof Reserve there is a new sign, proclaiming the reserve a World Heritage Site, and we complied with the instruction to only enter if in possession of a permit.

The road loops round past the Attakwaskloof Hiking Hut and then the trail starts behind the hut and up over the Attakwasberg. On the way up, Janet felt unwell and decided to go back. The trail is good and clear up to this point, but the next section of about a kilometre, which is just on the south side of the ridge, down to the corner of the plantation, in the next photo, is unclear and not good.

From the corner of the plantation, to the end, the trail is clear, easy to follow and well maintained.

The trail then traverses the southern slopes of the Attakwasberg and we shortly stopped for a tea break and to split the party, the ones doing the full trail to go on ahead and the group doing the half trail to press on at a more leisurely pace.

The party doing the half trail went as far as the swimming pools where a vehicle was left for the return. As Janet, the designated navigator for the return, had left the group early, Karin volunteered to swop groups and navigate back to the farm.

This photo shows the trail going off over the ridges of the slopes of the Attakwasberg, with Ruitersberg on the Robinson Pass, in the far distance.

We stopped for lunch at the swimming pools on the Molen River, which flows into the Kouma River, with the braver persons taking a dip. Dave, in his haste to get out of the water after dipping his feet to test the temperature, promptly slipped in. Gill, in a surprised voice was heard to say, ‘Dave never swims in cold water’.

After lunch, we walked up the valley to the point where the Attakwaskloof Trail joins the Kouma Circuit. This part was rather hot and humid, but as we joined the Kouma Circuit a welcome cool breeze refreshed us.

From the junction of the trails, there is a long downhill to the Kouma River, but by now the Robinson Pass was getting comfortably closer.

Clive and Brigitte used the opportunity to cool their feet off and everybody filled their water bottles, for the long pull up to the Robinson Pass.

The trail is just over 19km with 1225m of climb and 1000m of descent and took us eight and a half hours.

Cheryl asked, which way is the harder? The way we did it this year, there is more ascent, by almost 25%, but the path was much easier to find and much clearer and so not so tiring. So I think the effort involved was the same as last time.

Thanks to Evie, Karin, Janine and Robin for some stunning photos.
Everybody enjoyed their day out in the mountains.

Greg Moore – meet leader

We started our hike at Middelplaas (De Rust) on Friday morning at 9.45 in slightly drizzling weather. It takes a while to sort out the logistics of getting a car to the end of the hike. Greg and Cheryl kindly offered to leave their bakkie at Buffelsdrif and Tony and Evie picked them up. The 60 km drive along the dirt road from Buffelsdrif to Middelplaas takes at least 90 minutes.

The hikers: Tony Bowen, Kyle and Dave Underwood (for CREW), Cheryl and Greg Devine,  Evie Bowen, Clive Louw and myself (Karin van Niekerk – leader)

We had cool weather and light rain most of the day. Distance hiked (according to Tony’s GPS) 16.9 km in  6 hours 7 minutes. The hike up the valley is very pretty with beautiful rock formations but not much in the way of plant diversity.

When we crossed into the Kammanassie reserve there was a sign to remind us that we were now entering a world heritage site for the Cape Floral Region.

Crew members Dave and Kyle Underwood.

The jeep track has eroded badly and in places completely washed away. Towards the end of first day it is very overgrown. A big fire swept through the valley 2 years ago and the vegetation along the jeep track in the river valley grew back very thick, in places completely obscuring the jeep track. I don’t know if it will be passable at all in a year’s time.

First part of the hike through the kloof  – scenic grasslands. Evie and Cheryl saw some mountain zebra running away.

We found a flat, sandy place to camp on Friday night and we all settled into a comfortable camp next to the river in Bakneskloof. Some sensible hikers did some grass clearing (gardening) for a flat comfortable bed while others left the grasses in place and had a lumpy restless night. Clive decided it won’t rain and brought his bivvy bag instead of a tent. He survived the drizzle and fortunately Saturday was warm and sunny to allow him to dry his wet equipment along the way to the next camp.

Early morning in Bakneskloof – our camp.

Saturday – the 15.2 km hike took 8 hours 34 minutes (Tony’s GPS) to an elevation of 1302 m. (We had started the hike at 520 m elevation on Friday).

Pristine fynbos, beautiful views and great weather. We camped below a ridge where there was small trickle of water. Tony and Evie pitched camp an hour earlier than the rest of us.  Tony had eaten something the night before that didn’t agree with him and he felt quite ill during the hike on Saturday.

Heading in the direction of Kammanassie peak on Saturday (cloud covered – the jeep track visible on the far left)

Sunday morning:

Clive, Greg and Kyle climbed the ridge peak above our camp. Dave hiked along the ridge looking for plants for CREW. He found lots of interesting specimens and hopefully some rares. Tony and Evie caught up with the rest of us at our overnight stop.

Greg on his way down from the ridge

Cheryl and I hiked back along the jeep track to pick up another old track that runs on to the plateau above Kleinberg. We had a lovely walk and beautiful views. (Looking north from Kleinberg with the Swartberg in the distance).

By midday we started packing up for our hike back down the mountain.

The road down, looking south towards the Outeniqua mountains.

5.8 km 2 hours 37 minutes (Tony’s GPS). We were back at the bakkie by 3 pm and back at Middelplaas just before 5 pm.

Thank you to all the hikers who came along and contributed making it such a great hike!

Karin van Niekerk – meet leader

Hoëberg has been tickling me for a long time. It is the most prominent peak when I look north from where I
live and work near Sedgefield. Because peaks must be climbed, it was a good reason to put this meet on the
program. Climbing it from the north, is definitely the better option.

The group. Photo by Daniel Carter

Fourteen enthusiastic people gathered at the meeting point at Molen River, north of the mountain. It was
partly cloudy and we could only see parts of the Outeniquas. In the group was Bill Turner, Clive Louw, Greg
and Cheryl Devine, Tony and Evie Bowen, Greg and Janet Moore, Dave and Gill Manley, Charles Smith, Gina
Pelser, Daniel Carter (guest from Australia) and Derek Odendaal.

The Outeniquas near Molen River

We drove further towards the mountain along a farm road and then through a wasteland of wattles and
other exotic trees until it seems clear that we will not get another place to turn the vehicles around. We had
to stop in a line, with only a small space into the thicket behind us to turn around the vehicles one by one. If
one of the drivers lost a car key, we would have a difficult situation…… And awkward things can happen on
the 1st of April.

Through the dense fynbos

We started walking up a spur of the mountain along the jeep track for more than four kilometres. The last
part towards the neck, just north of Hoëberg, was very overgrown and clearly not used any more. From
there, we began our ascent of 500 meters to the summit. We had to find a route up the fynbos-covered
slope. The first bit was dense and difficult, but once we got onto the slope left of a gully running down from
the peak, the going got better and the fynbos was not too high or dense. But it still was not an easy ascent
and quite steep in places. Fortunately, it was a mild day and that also helped us to get through with our
water supply, which we had to carry all the way from the start.

Ascending Hoëberg

Taking a break on the high neck

We made good progress and all reached the neck to the left of the peak, from where we could get a view to
the south. We had another rather steep 150 meters up the mountain and 8 of the party ultimately reached
the summit just after 1 pm. Unfortunately, it was in a cloud and we could not get the nice views we hoped
for. The peak played an April’s fool joke on us! At least we had great views towards the north and the west
along the way.

Summit party, without Greg Moore. Photo by Derek

Strawberry everlasting

After having lunch, we started the descent. On the way down, one of our group members became a bit lost
and had us worried for quite a while. Besides the safety of this person, another concern was the fact that
one of the vehicles in our line would block 3 others from getting out again, should this person remain
missing. At some stage I was even seeing myself sleeping somewhere on the farm while the search for the
missing one was being done by Drew and his crew!

Hoëberg as seen from the north

Wearing coloured clothes proved to be of great value, as we were able to spot Number 14 coming down the
mountain slope when we reached the neck at the base of the slope. With some vocal and physical
assistance, we could guide Number 14 further down and towards the waiting group. I was very relieved
about this and could enjoy the beautiful mild afternoon in the mountains even more on the way down. We
only reached the vehicles after 5 pm and were glad that we could manoeuvre all of them out again!
I think it’s okay to climb a mountain on the 1st of April.

Derek Odendaal – meet leader

Mountain Club of South Africa