There was a large turn-out for the trail and the party consisted of Don Bands, Hettie Esterhuyse, Karin van Niekerk, (photographer) Dave & Gill Manley, Charles and Lindsey Smith, Maretha Alant, Werner Frei, Bill Turner, Tony & Evie Bowen, Gary & Valerie Thompson, Fran Hunziker, Greg & Janet Moore and guests, Ingrid Vis, Sally Adam, Santa de Jager.
The previous evening, Dave Manley and I left 4×4 vehicles deep into the mountain, at the end of the trail, to give us more time the following morning. Thanks to Don Bands for driving us out.
We all met at Mooihoek farm entrance on the R328. There was heavy overcast with growls of thunder and a shower in the distance. We drove into the farm and parked, by prior arrangement, at the hiking huts.
As we started the ascent to the neck, on a good path, a brief thundery shower had some reaching for their waterproofs.
From the neck we descended, with fine views of Engelseberg, to the camping spot on the Moordkuil River, where we had a break for tea.
From here we turned south and followed the river through the mountains. It was ten months since we last walked this trail and on that occasion, the path onward was easy to find. This time, with such an abundance of water, the path had become seriously overgrown and hard to follow and unless some work is done, the path will be impassable within six months.
We crossed the river back and forth many times, passing large swimming pools, where several had a welcome dip. We passed through large stands of indigenous forest and fynbos, where we climbed out of the river bed. Most of the crossings were rather slippery and the vegetation very dense, as can be seen in the photo.
With the large group and unclear path, we had to keep checking that the people at the back were able to find the path, which resulted in many stops and generally slow progress. As we climbed out of the river bed for the last time, through a lovely path of indigenous forest, the path again became clearer.
At the lunch spot, Sally spotted some dead ants clamped to grass stalks, it was thought that they were affected by a fungus with mind altering properties.
The walk out after lunch was through rugged country and beautiful fynbos, dropping down to cross tributaries with steep climbs out.
The hike took quite a bit longer than the previous year, most of the group taking seven and a half hours, mainly due to a much bigger group and an overgrown path.
The distance was 12 km, with 573m of ascent and 741m descent.
As we drove out it started to rain, which made it most unpleasant for those on the back of my bakkie in the twenty odd km back to the start.
To quote Evie, “It was a truly wonderful day out in the Outeniquas, lovely mountain views and a very interesting and enjoyable hike. And to quote Dave, “The best hike he has had with the MC”
Thanks to Dave and Don for help with the logistics and Karin, Evie and Sally for photos.
Greg Moore – meet leader