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

At 2502m, Kompasberg near Nieu Bethesda in the Karoo, is the highest mountain in South Africa outside the Drakensberg/Stormberg range – higher than Seweweekspoort peak. Dave and I were doing a butterfly survey for SANBI in the Nieu Bethesda area in December 2016, and happened to be on a farm called Wilgerbosch, which lies at the foot of the Kompasberg, so we thought it would be a cool idea to get some of the MCSA members to climb it with us when we were going to be there again. We could see a jeep track going up the side of the mountain and identified it as a possible route from the South and South Western side.

Kompasberg from the south – showing the jeep track

I put in on the calendar not expecting too many responses as it is a long drive from the Southern Cape, but almost immediately I had 12 people on the list. Eventually the 12 changed into 10, with the following people joining the meet:
Dave and Hanna Edge, Fred and Nicky van Berkel, Werner Frei, Ian Cameron-Clarke, Dennis Lange (our good friend from the Cape Town Section) with his friend Maretha, and Shane Stein and Sarah Fowldes (friends of Dennis and visitors from Port Elizabeth).

There are various routes up Kompasberg, the most popular one from a farm called Kompasberg to the north of the mountain, but a long drive on a bad road from Nieu Bethesda. Then there is also the South Easterly route from the farm Dalveen, favoured by the MCSA. And then there is the route that we wanted to attempt, from the South.
My first problem was to get permission from the owner of Wilgerbosch, who lives in Cape Town, to start on his property. A new farm manager had just been appointed and try as I might, the phone just kept on ringing. Time to make Plan B – I got hold of Werner Illenberger from the Eastern Cape Section, who gave me the Dalveen farmer’s phone number, as well as a GPS track of his route. Problem was that one needed 4x4s to get to the start of the route, or ‘walk for about an hour along a track and then take any route’. Eventually, when I tried the Wilgerbosch manager again about 2 weeks before the meet, he answered, and promised to ask his boss, but sounded very sceptical. I sent him an e-mail outlining all our collective experience (climbing Kilimanjaro, Mt Kenya, Aconcagua and various treks done, including Dennis having summited Kompasberg 4 times) and on the Monday before the meet, he phoned to tell me that his boss has ‘hesitantly’ given his permission. So we would do our proposed route after all.

Dave and I met a local farmer, Peet van Heerden, who knew our particular route quite well, and explained what to do after the game fence that we would encounter. I did not listen properly but luckily Dave did.

We all met on Friday at the Zonnenstrahl campsite in Nieu Bethesda (a lovely shady and grassy campsite with beautifully clean ablutions – well worth recommending), and with the master fire maker, Werner Frei, in the group, made a good fire and had a braai. On Saturday morning we left the campsite at 6 am and after Dave took us on a ‘high clearance vehicle needed’ route, parked the 3 bakkies and started our hike. Maretha stayed in the campsite and Nicky wanted to botanise so we were 8 people setting off into the veld, through a donga and finally reaching the jeep track.

The climbing party – Fred, Dennis, Dave, Hanna, Werner, Shane, Sarah and Ian

Going up the jeep track

The imposing cliff face

After about 2 hours walk we got to a game fence, over which we all clambered with grace and elegance. Ian decided here that his metal ankle would not go further and turned around, leaving the Super 7 to continue.

Dennis conquering the game fence

We then had to go up a grassy gulley and meet up with the recognised route from the North. However, I only remembered half of Farmer Peet’s instructions and carried straight on up the gulley instead of turning left. After reaching a vertical drop I realised that I had led everyone to the wrong place.

Going up the wrong gulley

The vertical cliff at the top!

We then followed Dave, who had listened to the farmer, back down and then up the gulley to the left. Fred’s GPS told us that we were now on the right track and from there on it was a rather strenuous scramble, following stone cairns, for the next hour to eventually reach the top at 1 pm. We could all feel the altitude by then – 2500 m is high for us people coming from sea level.

Scrambling to the top

On the summit – Sarah, Shane, Dave, Hanna, Werner and Dennis (Fred took the pic)

Unfortunately it was rather hazy but we could still enjoy the stark beauty of the Karoo, looking out over the plains, dappled with shadows from the clouds.

View from the summit – the three white dots are the bakkies

View from the summit

After a 30 minute break for lunch at the top we started our descent, being very careful with the loose dolerite boulders. The way down was made treacherous with loose pebbles and gravel on the track, and we all reached the bakkies again at about 4 pm – all unscathed, with tired legs but happy that we were able to stand on the top of the mountain.
We were fortunate with the weather – after predictions of rain, which would have scuppered the whole trip, we started off in slightly cloudy weather, but had a clear sky and absolutely no wind at all at the top.
We visited ‘The Karoo Lamb’ for dinner, had a great night’s rest and headed off in various directions on Sunday.

Aerial view of track up Kompasberg

Isometric view of entire track and hike statistics

Thanks to Dave for listening to Farmer Peet, Fred for the GPS work, and all the others in the party for being such reliable and responsible climbers – it made the climb all that much easier!

Hanna and Dave Edge (meet leaders)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The walk out after lunch was through rugged country and beautiful fynbos, dropping down to cross tributaries with steep climbs out.

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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

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Hikers attending were: Cheryl and Greg Devine, Karin van Niekerk, Charles Smith, Charl du Plooy, Werner Frey, Clive Louw, Wolf Schneider, Fred van Berkel, Hans van Ameyde (Meet leader).

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The weather was fine, overcast but fortunately no rain. Just as well, considering the climbing awaiting us later in the afternoon. We got to the official coastal route west of Sinclair Hut by 10h30 to enjoy the impressive view to the west along the coast. As it was rather windy, we decided to have our morning break at the Hut. From here we proceeded east through the Fynbos and descended to sea level and crossed the Grooteiland River, most of us keeping dry feet.

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We enjoyed our lunch at the tidal pool a bit further on. However, nobody was keen on taking a bath due to the lack of sunshine. From here the terrain becomes challenging, rounding Grootkop and beyond towards Kranshoek view point.

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After we got to the area below Kranshoek, we climbed up through the indigenous forest on a decent path and reached our parking area, high up around 15h30.

Only then, the rain in the form of a light drizzle started falling. So glad about that! We all felt very satisfied with our accomplishment doing this beautiful scenic and challenging hike.

Thanks also to Fred van Berkel for sharing some of his pictures.

Hans van Ameyde – meet leader

The day shone bright and clear with no hint of rain. A perfect day for a river outing.

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On Saturday 21 January 26 members and non-members arrived at Strawberry Hill to start the walk down to the river. After the usual meet and greet and roll call we were off. Bill and his faithful dog accompanied us to the Kaaimans where we met up with Maretha and Clive, who had decided to get into the river further upstream, which added a further one and a half hours onto their time.

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It was a motley crew that entered the water for the first swim, some with gusto and enthusiasm others with a little trepidation and a few misgivings. So began our journey down to Wilderness via the Kaaimans.

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Four children participated in the fun, which improved the age demographics of the SC MCSA greatly. With the use of pool noodles for the younger ones they navigated their way to the end with absolutely no problems, smiles on their faces most of the way, as long as they were fed at regular intervals and could lie on a nice warm rock from time to time to warm up.

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The oldies did exceptionally well, with the thought of warm clothes a cold beer and braai at the end, there was no holding them back.

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There were no major hiccoughs on the day but with such a large group it is impossible to all stay together, so big thanks to all who helped me get everyone safely down and back to Strawberry Hill.

While we were in the river Sandy, Nicky, Di and Avril walked the Fern Trail on the farm. Three non-members were
very late in arriving at the start but did manage to do the river by themselves.

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The cherry on the top of this fantastic day, was a bring-and-braai at the Turners. Thank you Bill and Di for your wonderful hospitality.
Those who did the Kaaimans:
Members: Greg and Cheryl Devine, Greg and Janet Moore, Karin Van Niekerk, Fred Van Berkel, Charles Smith, Evie
Bowen, Stewart Stiles, Alice Jagger, Eugene Fichardt, Rina de Leur, Maretha Alant, Clive Louw, Peter, Clara and Stella Adrian (Jo’burg members).
Non-Members: Lindsay Smith, Kat Webster, Charl Du Plooy, Henry, Kiran and Marley Greyling, Jeannine McManus, William vd Poll and Harry Lewis.
Irmela and Tony were a big help with transport.

Meet Leader: Cheryl Devine.

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Clive Louw (leader), Cheryl Devine, Fran Hunziker, Irmela Kohlsdorf, Hans v Ameyde, Greg Devine, Maretha Alant, Fred v Berkel, Lindsay Smith, Saartjie v d Merwe, Charles Smith, Karin v Niekerk, Nicky v Berkel (taking photo).

The weather was perfect with light breezes and ample cloud cover to take the sting out of this summer’s day hike. The start is from Sparrebosch down a well maintained Fisherman’s Trail, mainly through indigenous forest to a lovely beach at the bottom. This is as far as Nicky and Karin had planned to go.

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The others were to follow a very rugged coastline with plenty of scrambling and the occasional sign of a local fisherman track. The day was chosen with low tide at 11h00, since the route is often just above the water level. The ocean swell was rather large that day, and the waves caught us at times.

We soon came across our first rock barrier, which we got around by climbing a steep chimney with dubious rock in places. The rope was taken out here to assist some of the party.

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The next hurdle was a gully with a steep descent. The scramble down and gully crossing were quite easy, but the big waves caught many by surprise. A few of the members were soaked from top to tail, but importantly nobody lost their footing during the wave distraction.

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The next feature was East Cape, a small peninsula, which is about half way. A shortcut is taken across the peninsula on an old fisherman path through the bush. The path is overgrown, and the bush had all sorts of thorns. We arrived at the other side with some clothes torn, and exposed epidermis worn through in places. Some were donating blood quite generously, while somebody was muttering that mountaineering is not supposed to be a blood sport!

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Straight after that is an impressive huge rock buttress with a tunnel right through it. The obvious way is through the tunnel. We then found a convenient shady overhang for our lunch break, but had to share it with flotsam in abundance.

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We did not tally for long, because we knew about another important rock scramble just at the end. We did not want to be caught by the high tide, which had given an earlier party a lot of trouble.

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We were then surprised by a gully we were not told about. You can’t get around it as there is impenetrable bush at the head of the gully. We had to wade across and got more than just our feet wet.

Towards the end of the route, some of the party chose to take a popular fisherman track that detours around the top of the last rock challenges. The remaining six members stayed low and continued with the scrambling. We arrived at the last big challenge well in time and the waves were of no concern. The challenge is a short undercut face that is steep with poor footholds, but compensates with very good handholds. The rope was taken out again to assist some over the hardest technical challenge (Rock grade C).

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Soon we were at the Eastern Head where there is a sandy beach. For those who wanted to, the route was finished off in style by having a swim. We were then able to really feel the force of the big waves that had been bothering us. We were all happy and safely back at the carpark by 14h30.

This is truly an impressive and challenging part of our rocky coastline. Hence the so-called short route of 6.5 km route was completed in 6.5 hours. Yes, that is 1 km per hour, and we don’t want to hear any snide comments about our speed!

Clive Louw – meet leader

This was an exploratory hike into unknown territory, with the aim of ascending the highest peak and also give it a name. Since the weekend of 12 and 13 November was to be a cloudy and rainy one, the meet was moved to 19 and 20 November. Fortunately, most of the original group members could attend. They were Bill Turner, Greg and Cheryl Devine, Clive Louw, Charles Smith, Maretha Alant, Fran Hunziker, Janine Smith, Werner Illenberger and Zeta Michau from EP Section, Derek Odendaal (leader), as well as two guests from the Klein Karoo Hiking Club, Danie and Wessel Steyl.

We gathered in perfect weather at Misgund on Saturday morning and drove through the farms and orchards towards the Niekerksberg Nature Reserve, managed by EC Nature Conservation. The entire hike was in this reserve. There is a rough jeep track running into the reserve for almost 10 km and goes up to a height of 1400m, where it ends between Niekerksberg and the unnamed highest peak. We followed this track and enjoyed the mountain scenery, with the Misgund River winding its way up the valley on our left side. Unfortunately there are quite a lot of hakea and pine trees invading some of the mountain slopes. We could see not much is done to eradicate these.

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Walking in the Niekerksberg Nature Reserve

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Erica trachysantha grows in abundance

Early afternoon saw us near the end of the jeep track. We left our packs where we thought would be a good overnight spot and proceeded to climb the highest peak (1618m). It was still some 200m up and the going was a bit rough. The whole group made it to the top. There was some mist coming and going, but we could get great views of the surrounding mountains, as well as southwards over the Keurbooms River catchment area and towards Plett in the distance.

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The group on the summit of Goedgegund (photo by Derek)

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Afternoon mist flowing over the peaks

We camped for the night between this peak and Niekerksberg, at a height of around 1350m. After sunset it became very cold and at times we were shrouded in mist. We also woke up in mist the next morning, but it soon disappeared and we then had perfect clear weather. We climbed Niekerksberg (1595m) and reached the summit around 8 am. This offered fantastic views, especially to the east with Peak Formosa prominent in the distance. We could see 6 mountain ranges: The Langkloof range, Tsitsikamma, Outeniqua, Kouga, Kammanassie and Swartberg.

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The great view towards Peak Formosa from the summit of Niekerksberg

After packing up our tents, we walked back along the jeep track. The sun was fierce and it became a bit hot at midday. Many of us took a nice plunge into the large dam near the end of our hike. All of us were back at the cars by 2 pm. It was really a pleasant meet in this unknown area. After a number of proposals and discussions around a name for the highest peak, it was decided to call it Goedgegund (meaning well-favoured), and which is the positive for Misgund.

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The cool water down below invited us for a swim

Derek Odendaal – meet leader

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Location: Sandwiched between the Grootrivierberge and the Witteberge just North of Willowmore

Date: 28-30 Oct 2016

Group Leader: Chris Leggatt

Members: Chris Leggatt, Hugo Leggatt, Bill Turner, Fred and Nicky van Berkel, Tony and Evie Bowen, Dave and Gill Manley, Dave and Margie Barnes, Don and Mari Bands

Guest Appearances: Liz Bazin, Andre Knoetze, Sineke Schmidt, Cherie Swanepoel, Dave Heggie

This memorable weekend was born a over a year ago while Chris and Andre sat around a campfire enjoying a bottle of wine. Andre had remarked that in all the years that he had owned the farm, he had not yet climbed the Witteberge behind the farmhouse and gazed across the Great Karoo… and so it was, with this objective, that the weekend was finally planned for the last weekend of October 2016.

On the Friday afternoon, the group was due to assemble at 5pm in Willowmore under the leadership of Chris Leggatt, but due to unforeseen circumstances the group leader and his two travelling companions were nowhere near Willowmore at the allocated time. Thankfully, the landowners, Andre and Sineke, met the party and led them to the farm at dusk, with Chris and companions catching up just before the farmhouse.

Saturday morning saw 3 different excursions. A group of 10 set off for the high ridge at 8am (Bill Turner, not wanting to hold back the group, had set off earlier), while two smaller groups stayed in the valley below (one to walk the jeep track further along the valley while the other explored the nearby river valley for possible rock art).

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Summit group less Bill who is somewhere up the slope behind the subjects

Thankfully the ascent to the summit, while long, was reasonably straight forward. There were some cliffs which had been formed by the folding of the rock strata that created some minor obstacles, but the sparse vegetation and the overcast weather allowed us all to plod along at a comfortable pace. Just under halfway up the 770 m ascent, we had to drop down to a neck before continuing our way up. After three and a half hours of hiking, we were rewarded with the most magnificent view over the Great Karoo towards Aberdeen and Graaff Reinet. With no foothills below, the mountain drops away to the vast plain of the Karoo.

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Fred making his way up the slope

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The lower slope

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The whole summit party

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On the Witteberg Ridge with the Grootrivierberge to the South and the Great Karoo to the North

After lunching at the Jakobskop trig beacon (1465m) with a magnificent view laid out before us, we started the knee-jarring descent. With water starting to run low, the party started to show signs of fatigue and minor dehydration in the last half of the descent. After 8 hours on the mountain, we were happy to sit around the evening campfires and take stock of our achievements. We realised that the summit party, with its 4 hip replacements, 1 new knee, a pace-maker and a few other odds and ends, could almost build a robot with what they had in the group. We also learnt that the one party that had explored the river valley near the farmhouse had discovered some rock art!

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Sunday morning saw a couple of minor excursions. The rock art group, which mainly consisted of some of the members of the Saturday summit party, headed off to view the newly discovered rock art, while a smaller group walked up the jeep track to see more of the farm. Although the scramble up the scree slope to the rock art site was a little tricky, the art and the view were both worth the effort. From the cave we could look towards the farmhouse and up the slope that we had climbed the previous day. Most of the party then headed back to the farmhouse via the way they had come, while Chris and Liz continued down the dry river bed in order to loop around a hill back to the farmhouse. En route, while crossing over a neighbouring farm, they discovered another rock art site that the 5th generation landowner did not even know about!

All in all it was a successful weekend in which we managed to reach our objectives. Thanks to our gracious hosts, Andre Knoetze and Sineke Schmidt for allowing us the privilege to explore this spectacular mountain range.

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Andre and Sineke at the rock art site with Jakobskop in background.

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Chris and Liz at 2nd rock art site

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Chris Leggatt – meet leader

Imagine if you will, this conversation between David Livingstone and his wife, Mary Moffat.

David: “Fancy a bit of a walk up through Africa then, Love? We could discover Lake Victoria and the source of the Nile. Maybe save a few souls along the way”
Mary: “Sounds good, but will there be a path?”
David: “Of course there won’t be a path, we’re explorers. And I do wish you would change your last name to Livingstone, or at least Moffat-Livingstone.”
Mary: “Well then, if there’s no path I’m not coming!”
David: “Och, come on, we’ll be fine. The bush’ll nae be too bad.”
Mary: “No!”

We all know how badly it turned out. David went alone anyway and found a few things here and there, but without his wife to supervise, things got messy. He got lost, found, lost again and then died. His finder Stanley, task complete, went on to rape and pillage the Congo. Mary died alone without ever changing her last name.

I was reminded of this by a similar conversation in the Devine household the other day. We were talking about my proposed Kammanassie traverse. Cheryl expressed some doubts about my route-finding and showed reluctance to bush-whack the six kilometres of non-path in the thirty kilometre hike. It was like Twenty Questions. How thick was the bush? Should she come? Would anybody come? Would anyone make it? Who would play Stanley?

However, we finally decided to both go, because not to go would be repeating history. In the end, it was both good and bad. The bush wasn’t too thick and no one got lost, but no souls were saved. The problem turned out to be too much water. Well, not enough initially and then later much too much, mostly inside Karin’s and Bill’s tents.

This is how it happened. The Devines met the Bowens and Werner Frei at the Buffelsdrif crossroads and went to leave a car at the usual Mannetjiesberg parking spot. We returned to the crossroads and met the rest of the party consisting of Bill Turner, newbie Charles Smith, Amelia Spargo and Karin van Niekerk. We drove up the jeep track to near the campsite and parked. The day was cool and overcast.

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The intrepid explorers, Evie Bowen, Charles Smith, Bill Turner, Tony Bowen, Amelia Spargo, Werner Frei, Cheryl Devine and Karin van Niekerk. I am clearly not in the picture.

We set off up the track and made good time to the gate in the game fence where we turned right and found the east-bound track leading to the usual Platberg-Kammanassieberg campsite. The last water was only a trickle, but we all managed to fill up our bottles. The camp is about 1 km further and 100 metres higher than the water, so one needs to carry enough water to avoid buzzing back and forth from the camp to the water every five minutes.

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A steep part of the jeep track on the way up. Tony about to assume ‘the position’.

No one buzzed anywhere for the next sixteen hours as the rain came down shortly after we pitched camp. We were all in lock-down for the rest of the afternoon and night, in driving rain, wind and fog. Inside a warm dry tent was the only place to be. Bill and Charles kept up a non-stop conversation for the first three hours and then Bill kept up a non-stop monologue for the next three. The other tents listened in.

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View of the camp from the door of our tent shortly after our arrival.

Sometime during the night – it must have been late as Bill was silent – there was a commotion and a lot of torch flashes. This turned out to be Amelia retrieving her fly-sheet, which had blown off but luckily landed not far away. But in the morning a wet and drowned-looking Karin came to our tent, and through chattering teeth told us she had got drenched in the night. Her tent had failed completely and she had almost floated out the door. Clearly she would have to go down. Bill and Charles also got wet but apparently from the bottom up. Amelia was also damp and it would be better for her not to spend another night out.

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The morning weather started well. Here Karin dries herself in the wind.

Luckily the wet four were all in the same car so we sent them down straight away. The remaining five then debated at length whether to complete the route or just to explore the first section. The rain had stopped but it was still threatening, so we decided to leave the tents standing and recce the first part of the proposed route.

There is a jeep track almost the whole way through the length of the Kammanassie, but there is a section missing in the middle, and this was the question that needed answering. There are two options to link the two ends, to go high along the ridges, or to try a west-east valley that apparently links up. As one leaves the western end of the track, there are four deep gullies that could well block the route. The rest of the valley, although up and down, looks okay. So we went to check out the ‘dings’ in the route.

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The route ahead is through the saddle between two peaks. The jeep track, on the left, ends just before the first big ding.

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The first big ding seen from the end of the jeep track. It was a straightforward scramble cum bush-whack.

The first one is deep and goes with a bit of difficulty and the other three are shallower and basically easy. The bush is no problem. But the going is slow – 5km took 5 hours. So the conclusion is that the route is feasible, but with a small party carrying lightly. We will go for it again soon, in better weather I hope.

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The spur between the first and second dings, looking south towards Buffelsdrift. A cave is visible in the centre. We will install Bill here next time.

By the time we got back to our tents it was pouring again. The prospect of another long boring afternoon and night in the tents – without Bill – convinced us to bail. We packed up wet tents and shot back down to Tony and Evie’s car. After retrieving our own car we all went home to warm dry beds.

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Bill’s Cave

Greg Devine – Meet Leader

Mountain Club of South Africa