Hike to Tarn Cave – 6 October 2018

Distance: 9.2kms

Elevation Gain: 670m

Duration: 4h27 with stops and 1hr quicker on the way down

Max Elevation: 2,364m

What a way to spend my birthday – let’s call it a million star hotel!

We followed the Tarn Cave Pass to reach the cave.  After signing the mountain register at Bushman’s Nek – Emzevelo we set off just before 8am.  9 of us in our group with hike leader Jonathan from Mountain Club of SA.

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We crossed the Ngwangwane River 3 times in the first 1km.  Water levels are very low so no feet got wet.  The path is fairly flat for the first 4.5kms – we took a rest at Cedric’s Pool before we started our climb. The path is steep in places but all manageable, the one section we had to hoist backpacks up and scramble up a rock face.

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It was quite disturbing to see the tarns on the top of the pass almost completely dry.  As a precaution we replenished our water supply at the last water crossing.

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Tarn Cave is just wonderful, a vista looking onto the Devil’s Knuckles.  We were blessed with perfect weather conditions, two magnificent days of clear blue sky.

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My gang of 6 including myself stayed at Sani Lodge in the Honeyguide Cottage on the Friday night.  We left the cottage at 6am to meet at Bushman’s Nek at 7h30am.  We took the 2nd turnoff to Bushman’s Nek – from this turnoff it is 25kms on dirt road, the condition of the road isn’t too bad but there are a few potholes and bumps to look out for.

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Our group consisted of:

Gillian and Pierre, Kim and Prof, Lawrence, Melissa who I met on the Giant’s Cup hike in December 2017, Shaun (his first overnight hike), Jonathan (hike leader from MCSA

We reached the cave just before 12h30 – the group continuing up the South Knuckle had a quick bite to eat, sorted themselves out and headed off at 1pm.  Three of us stayed behind in the cave and just chilled for the afternoon.  The “knuckle” group got back to the cave as it was starting to get dark at about 6pm – they all said the climb up and down was very tough.

We had a quiz during dinner which was a lot of fun, team “Chocoholics” won 2 slabs of chocolate, very apt! Then it was time for bed, we took a moment to gaze into the galaxy and admire the millions of stars, we heard the cry of jackals a few times in the night.

Waking up early to watch the sun come up is the most special time of day for me.  The Devil’s Knuckles turn from a rich brown to green in the short space of 30 minutes after the sun is up.

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We started to pack up “house”, had breakfast and left the cave just before 8am.  The descent went a lot quicker but still tough on the old knees.  We stopped again at Cedric’s Pool to cool off our feet and enjoy a snack and then pressed on for the last 5kms to reach the car park at Emzevelo just after 11am.

 

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Karkloof Falls 2 Falls Slackpacking Hike 27 – 30 April 2018

Hosted by Julia Colvin from Spekboom Tours www.spekboomtours.co.za

Phone:    076 819 0615    Email:     julia@spekboomtours.co.za

Cost R4,000 which includes 3 night’s accommodation, Karkloof Canopy Tour, cheese and wine on arrival, all meals including lunch packs, transportation of luggage each day, 3 full days of hiking.

What Is Slackpacking?

Slackpackers can move far and fast over difficult terrain because they’re carrying a small pack or no pack at all, while most everybody else on the trail will be toting full-on camping gear.

You see, slackpacking is backpacking without all that awkward carrying of gear or sleeping outside.

Day 1 – 20kms – fairly tough for the first 4kms

This hike in the beautiful Karkloof a mere 20kms from Howick in the KZN Midlands encompasses 3 major waterfalls namely Grey Mare’s Tail Falls (101m), Karkloof Falls (105m) and finishes at Howick Falls (111m).

Our group of 10 intrepid hikers met at Shawswood Cottages at 5pm on the Friday. We were welcomed by a wonderful spread of snacks and drinks.

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Welcome drinks and snacks at Shawswood Cottages

Shawswood has been in the Shaw family since the mid to late 1800’s. Our cosy and rustic accommodation was once polo pony stables.

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Shawswood polo pony stables turned into rustic and comfy accommodation

Roxy an outside caterer from Copperfields Country Café and Catering in Howick prepared dinner for us. Rob on our hike said her cheesecake was the best he’d ever tasted.

We awoke on Saturday to a glorious sunrise all amped and ready to roll. After a delicious breakfast prepared by Roxy we set off at 8am through the forest following old logging trails. It was a tough 4km pull to reach the escarpment where we enjoyed spectacular views of the Karkloof Valley and Mount Gilboa. We followed the hiking path crossing the Grey Mare’s Stream which eventually led us to a magnificent view of the Grey Mare’s Tail Waterfall.

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Up through the forest we climb
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Grey Mare’s Tail Falls

After a short snack break we continued to follow the path on the top of the escarpment, we were fortunate to see some buck grazing in the grassland. Before we started our descent into the forest we stopped for our lunch break.

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Lunch stop before descending into the forest

The Karkloof Nature Reserve consists of about 60% mistbelt forest, 40% mistbelt grassland and ranges from 1000m to 1767m above sea level.

After a most enjoyable day we arrived at Thistledown Country House our home for the night. www.thistledown.co.za/index.html

The house was built in 1937, it has beautiful gardens with the Nkonkwane stream flowing through the Thistledown property which then meets up with the Karkloof River further downstream.

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Thistledown Country House

Of interest the one bedroom features a bath which has been restored, having originally come from the Imperial Hotel in Pietermaritzburg, and which at one time was used by the Prince of Wales during his visit there! If it was good enough for the Prince it is good enough for our slackpacking hikers!

Norma the host at Thistledown is an absolute “Master Chef” – we had the most delicious dinner seated around a roaring fire. After dinner Julia had organised for Kia from Karkloof Canopy Tours to do a presentation to us about conquering our fear – rather apt for what awaited us the next day.

Day 2 – 15kms – moderate terrain

After a delicious breakfast at Thistledown we walked up the road to start the morning with the Karkloof Canopy Tour which took approximately 2 hours. The Karkloof Canopy Tour consists of 12 platforms and 10 zip-line slides, the longest of which is 200m!

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Easy down we go!

 

After picking up our packed lunch we started our hike which took us through mealie fields, wetland and we visited 2 hides in the Kloof Conservatory, we were fortunate to see 2 Wattle Cranes. We transgressed through private farms where the hike leader Julia had obtained permission from land owners. This is the beauty of doing these hikes, you see places you would not normally be allowed to go. Very special.

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One of the hides at the Karkloof Conservancy
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Walking through private farms – what a treat!

Our hike then went through beautiful forests where we picked up the pace and came out at the Polo fields of the Karkloof Country Club. We then followed the mountain biking trail along the Karkloof River where we finished our day at the picnic site where a beautiful tea had been set up for us by our hosts at Amber Avenue Guesthouse our accommodation for the night. I am embarrassed to say I had never seen the Karkloof Falls before, absolutely magnificent waterfall in the most beautiful setting. I so enjoyed the views today along the Karkloof River. We were kindly transported (a short hop) to Amber Avenue.

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Delicious tea prepared by Amber Avenue Guesthouse
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Trail along the Karkloof River
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Karkloof Country Club
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Karkloof Falls

After freshening up we sat down to a lovely dinner prepared for us by Lyn the manager at Amber Avenue Guesthouse. https://www.amberavenue.co.za/

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Amber Avenue Guesthouse

Day 3 – 20kms – moderate terrain

After another delicious continental breakfast we set off from Amber Avenue at about 8am and made our way through the Everson Estate with sweeping views of Albert Falls Dam. We walked through huge avocado plantations. Westfalia Fruit Estate (held in the Dr Hans Merensky Trust) supplies avocado pears basically all year around to major retail groups in South Africa and abroad. I have never seen so many avocado pears in all my life! Of interest Dr Hans Merensky initiated the first avocado orchard in 1933.

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Everdon Estate
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Everdon Estate
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Avocado trees forever!

We took a little break at a peaceful dam on the estate and set off again into the Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve with the most unbelievable views. After approximately 18kms of hiking we were welcomed at our lunch stop by Paul Colvin (Julia’s Dad) who poured us each a glass of champagne where we toasted to 3 wonderful days, great friendships made and Julia’s birthday! Just further along the path Roxy from Copperfields Country Café and Catering had set up a beautiful picnic lunch for us.

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Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve
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What a way to end a 3 day hike!

Those of us with a long journey home left the group at this point whilst the others continued on to the finish taking the Black Eagle Trail and ending at the education centre at Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve. The last stop on this hike being the impressive Howick Falls.

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Howick Falls

 

I covered 55kms on the 3 days and I can now say I have conquered the Karkloof. A hidden gem on our doorstep. Thank you to Julia from Spekboom Tours and her team of helpers Jonathan, Ingrid and Teigue for a most enjoyable 3 days of slackpacking – well done on another highly recommended hike!

Some of the proceeds from this hike go towards the Kloof Conservancy to read more about the conservancy visit their web site at http://karkloofconservation.org.za/

Written by Alison Chadwick

The Samango Trail, Dargle – 21 to 22 January 2018

Having just completed the 5 day Giant’s Cup Trail whereby you carry all you need on your back for 5 days I was looking for something not so strenuous so when the Dargle Samango Slackpack Hike popped up on my Facebook feed I was intrigued to learn more. It didn’t take me long to contact Julia and book my spot on the hike, I liked the fact it was just over a hour drive from Durban, something I’d be comfortable doing on my own, and no 4 x 4 needed.

I’d never done a slackpacking hike before; it is alot easier when you don’t have to pack and prepare your own food. So packing for this hike was a piece of cake in comparison.

I was delighted to find out later that Rose who I’d met on a few Ramblers hikes was also doing The Samango Trail so we made plans to travel together from Durban. Rose is 80 years old and an inspiration, I look forward to doing many more hikes with her.

We left Durban at 2h30pm, took a nice easy drive to Dargle and checked into the beautiful Lemonwood Cottages http://www.lemonwood.co.za/

The story goes that Katie and Adam Robinson visited South Africa 14 years ago on a holiday from the UK, visiting the Kruger National Park and the seaside town of Ballito, Katie saw an advert in a free property magazine about this property in Dargle which was for sale, they took a drive, fell in love with it, returned to the UK, sold up and arrived back in Dargle 3 months later. Once you visit Lemonwood you’ll understand how easy it is to fall in love with the property, imagine a beautiful home with an enchanting forest on your doorstep.

By 6pm all eleven of us intrepid hikers had arrived and were settled in on the patio overlooking the Inhlosane Mountain, we were spoilt with a spread of cheese, biscuits, pickles and wine whilst we chatted and got to know everyone. On making my booking to do the hike Julia did ask me if I’d be happy eating mostly vegetarian food, this definitely wasn’t a problem for me.  Julia and her partner Jonathan treated us to a lovely home cooked dinner with a choice of either a vegetarian or lamb tagine followed by a fruit crumble for dessert.

On Saturday we woke up to the most spectacular red sky. Katie our host at Lemonwood Cottages prepared breakfast for us, scrambled eggs, baked tomato, organic yogurt, local honey, homemade granola, toast and preserves.  Katie makes her own lemonade which is delicious, we all had a spare bottle to fill up with lemonade for the hike.

I just loved all the little touches, we all got a lunch packed in a brown paper bag with our names written on the outside. This slackpacking thing is magic! Everything just happens, you don’t even have to think!

At 8am our group the youngest being 46 and the oldest 83 posed for an official start photo and off we set through the Kilgobbin forest. What an enchanting forest, the paths had been neatly cleared for us, we took care to look out for spider webs and did our upmost to duck beneath them or gently remove them to the side of the path. It was a privilege to share this hike with a group of knowledgeable folk – we had what I’d term a professional birder in our party, he was able to identity every bird we saw, and between Geoff the birder and Rose they knew the names of every beautiful flower and towering tree.  Our goal was to mark off 100 birds in the 3 days.  I think we got close to 60.

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The pace of the hike was very tame, we stopped often to either admire the views or inspect a flower, stare up at a tree or watch the birds.

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We followed old logging trails and passed through private properties, I am so impressed with Julia, this being her inaugural Samango Trail and she certainly has done a lot of ground work with the locals getting permission to transgress their properties and linking the trail all together, not an easy feat.

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We walked through the Old Kilgobbin Farm, though a paddock of the most magnificent Dutch Friesian horses which are used in workshops for children and corporates. To read more about Horse Play visit their web site at http://horseplay.co.za/

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If you read this article which appeared in the Wildside Magazine it will give you a better understanding of what happens at Horse Play – an amazing connection with humans and horses.

http://horseplay.co.za/uploads/Horse%20Play%20article%20for%20Wildside.pdf

We’d been going for a good couple of hours and we’d just stopped to admire in awe the oldest Lemonwood Tree in South Africa said to be 2,000 years old when we came across a clearing which looked like an area which can be used for a boma – little did we know but Julia had arranged for Karin Saks also known as the Baboon Woman to meet us here and share her knowledge with us about the research she is doing on the Samango monkeys in the area. Just listening to Karin speak you realise what special people we have in this world who dedicate their lives to researching animals. To read more about this project please visit https://samangomonkey.wordpress.com or email Karin on samangomonkeymidlands@gmail.com

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If you Google Baboon Woman you will read many stories about Karin, this one written by the Huffington Post puts into perspective the work she was doing with primates https://www.huffingtonpost.com/maggie-sergio/baboon-woman-the-story-of_b_1475362.html

After the most interesting talk and the most delicious chocolate brownies we set off again through the mist-belt forests, we were fortunate to see a few Samango monkeys in the distance.  Once out the forest we were greeted with the most panoramic views of the Dargle Valley, Lidgetton Valley and the Drakensberg mountains – a great place to stop for our lunch.  Our packed lunch was a roll with salad, sundried tomatoes, avocado and either cheese or bacon, some trail mix (nuts and dried fruit) and an apple.

We could see the rain moving in but our determined bunch of hikers made the decision to keep going and not take the short cut back to Lemonwood Cottages. We pressed on, poncho’s and rain jackets came on – the rain did pelt down rather hard but luckily it was very warm – we did however all end up with wet boots. At this point my waterproof socks were the topic of conversation!

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We arrived back at Lemonwood Cottages after a circular 14km trail to a nice cup of tea. Tonight our host Katie made us a delicious fragrant green curry with a choice of chicken or vegetable, rice noodles and for dessert we had the best homemade lemon curd ice-cream and biscuits.  Loving this thing called slackpacking.

On Sunday we woke up to a misty morning, we had lovely fresh fruit salad, organic yoghurts, cereal, preserves and freshly baked muffins.

We set off at 8am taking a different newly cut trail through the forest, it was a tough 2.5km climb up and out the forest. By the time we’d reached the Lidgetton Ridge the mist had lifted and the sun was beating down on us.  We descended into the Lidgetton Valley and followed the Lion’s River.  We had another steep climb across the Fifehead farm which is flanked by the Entabeni Forest.  We crossed the Lion’s River twice on this day, the river was flowing nicely but if you were stable and comfortable you could cross both places without getting your boots wet by choosing your step carefully.  We passed through the beautiful 4 star guesthouse accommodation called Pleasant Places, the most beautiful display of hydrangeas on show for us.  http://www.pleasantplaces.co.za/

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I so enjoyed the Blue Gum forests we walked through which provided some welcome shade – at about 1h30pm we arrived at Lythwood Lodge a beautiful venue very popular for weddings http://lythwood.com/ – two tables were beautifully set up for us with white table cloths under the old oak trees. We were all treated to a toasted sandwich, salad and chips.  After lunch we had another 4kms to go before we reached Blesberg Farm.  You can’t help but envy the farming lifestyle, lovely green pastures, healthy looking cattle, stunning farmhouse, friendly farm dogs, shimmering dams ………..oh the life!  Today we walked 20kms.  On arrival at Blesberg Farm we gathered again to a spread of cheeses, biscuits and wine.

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Blesberg Farm is a working cattle farm in the beautiful Liggeton Valley, there are several self-catering cottages on the farm http://www.wheretostay.co.za/blesberg-self-catering-cottage-accommodation-lidgetton-midlands-and-battlefields

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I take my hat off to Julia, after a long day with us Jonathan and Julia still cooked us a vegetarian paneer makhani for dinner followed by the best tiramisu I have ever tasted. Julia I still want that recipe!

I need to mention at this point that Jonathan had kindly collected all our luggage at Lemonwood Cottages and transported them to Blesberg Farm for our 3rd night.  Everything just happened in the background, we were definitely in good hands.

On Monday morning we woke to no electricity – not a problem the farm manager quickly got us two big gas bottles and we were able to make our morning fix of coffee. Yet again we were spoilt with another surprise, Julia had organised for Erica Brown from Sol Food to come through to Blesberg Farm at 6h30am and serve us the most amazing vegetarian breakfast.  We had 4 vegans in our party who were also catered for.  With no electricity Erica wasn’t able to make us the blueberry smoothies but we had a choice of gluten free muffins comprising of mango and passionfruit, banana, rhubard and ginger – homemade cashew nut butter, freshly pressed juices and a basket of seasonal fruit.

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Get onto Erica’s mailing list for wonderful recipes, cooking courses and just general good food and ideas http://www.solfood.co.za/

After that healthy breakfast we started our walk rounding the Blesberg Farm, we watched two secretary birds flying above us, saw a few Reedbuck prance right across our path. Julia’s Dad kindly packed all our luggage into his vehicle and transported our packed picnic lunches and met us along route.  Throughout the day and the day before we’d seen this lone tree high up on a hill from every angle and this was our spot for our picnic lunch – 360° of views, absolutely breath-taking.  On all 3 days we either saw or crossed the stone wall which was built by the Italian prisoners of war during WW2.  I found this article which I found fascinating all about the Italian POW in Pietermaritzburg –   http://natalia.org.za/Files/18/Natalia%20v18%20article%20p70-79%20C.pdf

Back to our lunch – a vegetarian empanada style puff pastry with seasonal roasted vegetables, fruit, nuts, chocolate brownie and a frozen health juice – oh and wait champagne and orange juice – need I say more?

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After lunch we set off back through the forest taking the easiest route down, we did slip and slide a little – we arrived back at Lemonwood Cottages after 12kms.

What a wonderful 3 days, friendships made, lots of laughs, batteries recharged and discovered the beautiful area of Dargle. Julia and Jonathan you did a sterling job, the positive feedback speaks for itself.  Well done on your inaugural Dargle hike, I have no doubt in my mind that this is the start of something fantastic!

Comments:

Thank you Julia for a wonderful weekend. You put in a tremendous amount of effort and have created your own unique style of leadership and hiking – Julia

Julia the hike was superb. Incredible scenery, gourmet food and wonderful people, what more could a girl ask for.  Most definitely one of the best trails I’ve done – Roseanne

Thank you Julia for putting on an awesome weekend hike. It’s been great meeting everyone and hearing everyone’s stories – Belinda

A brilliant trail, thank you so much for meticulous planning, super food and treats/surprises. Loved every second.  Thanks too for being so accommodating.  Great company of course – Mari

So enjoyed these 3 days with like-minded people, it was great. The food was scrumptious and above expectations. Thank you Julia and Jonathan for being so accommodating and putting together this lovely trail – Colleen

Good food, good company, good walking – thank you Julia and Jonathan and all my fellow walkers for a lovely break – Jill

Julia the Samango Trail you organised was an absolute winner. The forests and grasslands the good food and the great company all came together perfectly – Geoff

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It is wonderful to know that some of the proceeds from this hike go to the Dargle Conservancy who seem to be doing a great job in the area. http://www.dargleconservancy.org.za/index.php

History of Dargle from the web site http://www.oldkilgobbin.co.za/history.html

In the 1840s Thomas Fannin bought 6000 acres unseen in what is now known as the KwaZulu Natal Midlands, and upon his arrival he saw an incredible similarity to the Dargle Valley in his native Ireland.  So he named the stream running through his new farm the Dargle and so the South African Dargle valley was born.  His son, Meredith, bought the adjacent acres and named his farm  Kilgobbin, after a church and castle back in their Irish Dargle valley. In 1875 the homestead of Kilgobbin was completed and he and his wife Mary moved in, and generations of Fannins grew up on this beautiful farm. In the mid 1900s, David and Claire Fannin sold  Kilgobbin homestead and its surrounding land. The farm was then called Bridgewood until the early 1980s when Eric and Zia Harrison decided to resurrect the old stone and wood house back to its former glory, along with its old name, and so Old Kilgobbin was once again brought back to life. In 1996 John and Carl Bronner and their sons, Joel and Jethro, made Old Kilgobbin their home and took it into the 21st Century of agri-tourism and ecological farming.

Check out http://spekboomtours.co.za/Home/ to read more about Julia Colvin and the tours she organises.

Written by: Alison Chadwick

Rhino Peak Hike – 16 January 2016

At a height of 3051 metres in the southern Maloti-Drakensberg mountains, RHINO The Peak is Southern Africa’s ultimate mountain challenge.  Distance approximately 23kms up and down.

In November 2015 I was invited to climb Rhino with some of my trail running mates – but I decided I needed more time to get my head around this climb as I knew it wouldn’t be a walk in the park. So in December I put it out to some mates that I was keen to climb Rhino in the New Year and before I knew it we had 14 people signed up to tackle the beast.

As soon as the date was set I started to get my head around what I was in for – I stuck to my running program in the week but dedicated Thursday hills to “hiking” in the Virginia Bush Nature Reserve with a 5kg pack on my back and brought out the trekking poles for practice.

When 16 January 2016 finally arrived I felt ready although very apprehensive of the unknown. In March 2015 Malcolm Millar took me on a 4 day hike in the Southern Drakensberg – we slept in 3 different caves, I carried a 20kg pack on my back so I kept thinking if I could do that I could do Rhino.

Our group of 16 adults and one 9 month old baby met at the Garden Castle Reserve at 5am – we were disappointed that it was raining and misty but the general feeling was let’s start and take it from there, if it gets too unpleasant we turn back.

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Rain jackets on and an extra layer we set off – the first 5kms to Pillar Cave was relatively easy going with a few river crossings. I opted to wear my hiking boots rather than my trail running shoes because of the rain and felt my boots would have more grip. At Pillar Cave we bid farewell to our friends with the 9 month old baby – they’d only planned to hike to Pillar Cave. After a snack we were ready to move on – plus hanging around we were getting cold as it was still raining at this point.

At no stage on our hike did we clearly see the Rhino Horn – the day was very misty and every now and again we had a glimpse of blue sky. On our way out we were passed by Andrew Barnes and Ross Treleaven who were running – I met Ross the year before at Mutter (trail run in the Southern Drakensberg) and Andrew I know through business. On their way back I asked them roughly how long the run would take them and Andrew replied about 4 hours – RESPECT!!!

As the day wore on the path got steeper and steeper, the beautiful fauna and flora took my mind off the thin air – we saw one small grey snake on the path and as we headed into the gully we had some Dassies sunning themselves on the rocks and looking curiously at us. The rain had now stopped and the layers were peeled off – we were warm but as soon as we stopped we’d start to feel cold again so the idea was to keep plodding on at a slow pace.

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Our one friend at this stage wasn’t feeling well so she decided it was time to turn back, we all know you never leave anyone alone on the mountain so one of our party went back to Drak Gardens with her.

For me the gully was the trickiest and most challenging part of the climb – the slippery shale down into the valley and the very steep climb up was tough! I abandoned one trekking pole and used my other hand to hang onto either rocks or strong tufts of grass.

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When we reached the last overhang we left one of our mates there who was suffering with knee pain and the rest of the party pressed on to the escarpment. We stopped for a group photo as this was certainly a welcome stop and a hurdle achieved.

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The escarpment was still covered in mist, we saw sheep and horses on the plateau – we picked up the pace to the summit. When I reached the summit there is that last big rock to heave your body up onto and at this point I just gave up – after some encouragement from our leader I hoisted my butt up onto the rock – swung my legs over and got to the summit. We took a quick group photo and decided to head back down to the overhang to find our mate and get down the gully as quickly as possible as we were worried about the mist.

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When we found our mate he had the company of 3 shepherds and a dog – we exchanged greetings, much laughter from the shepherds – we said cheerio to them and went on our way. We must have been moving for about 10 minutes when we heard this mighty crash and the next minute a round bolder the size of 2 soccer balls came bouncing and hurtling towards the group – it missed our leader by about 1 meter, it was a very scary situation. We all felt a bit uneasy and decided to try and get down the gully as quick as we could – this is no easy task as the terrain is very steep, I spent a lot of the time on my butt, I felt more comfortable being closer to the ground. After a few tumbles and slips we were back on the well marked path and heading for home. We stopped for a 20 minute lunch break. We were fortunate to see an Eland.

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Perhaps the altitude had got to the party but the river crossings on the way back seemed so much higher – I managed to keep my boots and socks dry on the way up but wasn’t so lucky on the way down. The downs played havoc with my toe nails – my toes were hurting and as a result I have a few blue toe nails now.

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It took us 6 hours to reach the summit which is exactly as I predicted – and 5½ to get down – I think I slowed the party down in the gully. I had envisioned a 10 hour day but we were out there for 11h30 hours – my Garmin recorded a moving time of 7h30 hours.

A tired group of happy hikers were grateful to the mountain Gods for looking out for us – we all stopped at the Drak Gardens bar for a well deserved beer.

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Would I do it again? Not right now, I would still like to do the climb on a clear day for the views and perhaps next time take a local guide with.

Alison Chadwick

Photos by Greg Labuscagne Photography