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November/December/January 2003 Newsletter


Seasons Greeting from your editor and my best wishes for a great year ahead lets hope that it will be peaceful, active and productive with lots of love for our friends and family thrown in.

Well I must say that the year 2002 was a wonderful year for me, getting out on many hikes and trails and especially to be able to do them with the lovely lady in my life, Margie. We had a very good trip up to my house in Randburg and even went out with my older son Jamie and friends to hike in the Mountain Sanctuary Park in the Magaliesburg. We drove back via the Hartebeespoort Dam and caused a huge traffic hold up while Margie had to stop and take a photograph of the Wall!

Unfortunely time flies when you are having fun and before we knew it, we were back at our desks at work – boring. At least as members of the Trails Club we can look forward to good exercise, great views and quality time with friends in the future. We had an excellent hike with John Boakes, ably leading the eleven of us on Sunday the 11th from the helipad up to the contour path, taking care to keep us in the shade for most of the time, which was very welcome on a hot day. We went around on a Circular route, back to the car park and are always impressed with John’s knowledge of this side of the mountain. John Elliot’s dog Tana must have been very happy at the end of the day, albeit tired out, and really enjoyed flopping sown to lie in the water of the stream.

I look forward to receiving your articles and in fact to seeing most of you in the months to come.

Cheers and God Bless,

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Leader: Peter P.
Reporter: Lennie

Weather was fine on start at 8-30 am and we followed the very nice newly laid out path by parks board with duckboards etc. As usual we had to get sort of lost. At the beginning we found the path blocked due to wetland rehab but were soon on track again. We moved rapidly up to the dam for very brief water break as Peter was in big rush for reasons unknown and then gently up to the tea stop (not Noordhoek peak by the way) to the top of a peak whose name no one knew. Unfortunately the view over Noordhoek was covered in mist although the false bay side was somewhat clear but we did see three very energetic runners / orienteers running up the mountain past us and they were in good spirits offering us eggs for breakfast. After about 20 minutes we proceeded along the mountaintop to Steenberg peak where there were fantastic cloud covered views in hout bay etc. We were only there for a brief 3 minutes as once again Peter was in a rush, but we did learn from a hiker with gaps and foreign legion cap that we had ascended about 250 meters from the car park. We then descended the peak and up another hill and down where we started to do calculations on how high our climb up Constantiaberg would be. The general consensus was about 500 metres. We continued and started our big, steep, body-sapping climb up to lunch break at the mast with good views over Hout Bay etc.

We spent some time at lunch break spouting usual trivialities. At our lunch spot there was a small building with a steel ball on top, which Ray Green, a fairly new member, told us was radar-tracking equipment to monitor ships etc. I always thought that radar was a sort of rectangular shape that turned round and round. Thankfully after lunch the hike consisted of easy downward movement only as opposed to backbreaking upwards before lunch. We stopped at the turnoff to elephants eye where 3 of the party did a quick recce of the cave, whilst us others had to listen to Peter`s very eloquent solution to increasing the female proportion of hikers. It is apparent that Peter and Tony are very worried why the female hikers have dwindled in numbers and we are waiting for further information from these two. We did a diversion to the dam to look for the trees planted by the club earlier this year where there were lots of day visitors chilling out with beers, braais etc. We reached the car park at 4 p.m. and some of us proceeded to the usual watering hole where the high standard of intellectual conversation continued between gulps of beer. A final note: there was a lot of botanizing and about 50 % of the day’s hikers had the botany bible (Mary – Matham Kidd), which means a big increase in botanical interest. Species seen were wachendorfia, orchards, mountain dahlias amongst others and Ray kindly gave us a lecture on the difference between geraniums and pelagoniums (he is a guide at Kirstenbosch). Thank you for a very nice hike Peter and keep up the good work.

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Conservation News
Date: 15 October 2002
Reporter: Jaap Hendriks

No news is good news, so this must be bad news, for me anyway. I am going to have to bow out of hacking for a while until a reluctant foot is fixed up again. So this is a very good time to say thank you to all those members and visitors who have helped to make Silvermine a better place. Even if you could manage only once or twice, you made a difference. Thanks also to Peter for getting people off their backsides with his exhortations in the schedule. There is a lot more to be done, and the good news is that Graham Pietersen has agreed to lead future hacks for the Club. Graham has been a regular hacker for a long time. He will bring some fresh enthusiasm to the job. Please give him a lot of support.

Thank you Margy for your enthusiastic report in the last newsletter. If I had know you were coming I would not have gone to China. The name of the little peak above the area we are hacking is Spitskop. I don’t think the ridge itself has a separate name.

See you around folks – on the easier paths.

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Sandy’s last hike
Reporter: Peter P.

Well, I’m sorry, I thought that the Heritage Day afternoon hike would be a gentle stroll to Vlakkenberg, along a gentle path through fields of flowers. As always, Sandy had news for me. 24 members assembled at the appointed meeting place. It was a perfect day for hiking. The boffins had said that there would be rain in the evening but the afternoon was just perfect. Why is Mervyn always late? We all stood around and waited for him to put on his boots and perform other necessities at his car, before ambling across to join us, and Sandy could give her warning about being not responsible etc. Off we went up the pedestrian entrance to Vlakkenberg. This path used to be very overgrown with aliens. So much so that one would have to almost crawl under a canopy of those horrible, prickly Hakea. (Australia sent these trees to us to undermine our rugby and cricket players somehow, as well as cause all the trouble for our vastly superior flora.) There can be no tree quite as ugly as a Hakea. These were all burnt down in a fire and have been removed resulting in the path being very eroded. Sandy led us up and up till she found a path off to the left leading to a rocky outcrop. In the meantime we had lost two of our hikers. Win led some who found the going too much, back to the start. At the top of Vlakkenberg itself we stopped for tea. Tony had brought a delicious pineapple, which he kindly shared with me. After tea we headed down. I think Sandy somehow lost the path. A bit of bundu bashing, which made Tony very proud of Sandy, followed. Anyhow we eventually found the path, thanks to some pioneering path finding work done by Derick Archer and moi. We will miss Sandy Howell. Not only because she was on her way to becoming a hike leader of merit, not because of all the work she did so meticulously as the membership secretary, but because she is, well, because she is Sandy, and it will not be possible to get another Sandy.

Sandy, we salute you. Please try and forget us not. Trails club will definitely not forget you.

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Grootvadersbos Boosmansbos
14, 15 and 16 March 2003.

This weekend trail is very special and not very far to travel, close to Barrydale in the Langeberg Mountains. We will pitch tent on Friday and start walking on Saturday 15 March. If we get more than 12 bookings then we will split the party.

Paul Taylor will lead a group into the Wilderness on a 2 day hike and Tony Burton will use Grootvadersbos as a base camp and lead 2 one day hikes into Forests, Streams and Kloofs and magnificent mountains.
To save disappointment as bookings are already being made, first come, first paid and first served rules will apply.

Phone Tony Burton @ 701 5021 or 082 658 3056 or Paul Taylor @ 715 5382 to secure a place on this wonderful trail.

Don’t procrastinate, if you snooze you lose!!

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Reporter: Peter P.

Mervyn is leading a visit to KwaZulu-Natal from 28/6/2003 to 13/07/2003. He intends visiting St Lucia to do the Emoyeni/Mziki trails followed by a visit to the Umfolozi Hluhluwe Game Reserve. Then on to do the Giants Cup trail in the southern Drakensberg. You will require two weeks leave.

The Emoyeni Trail is an exciting guided 5 day wilderness trail (see leopard, buffalo, elephant, black rhino, crocodile and hippo,) winding trough grassland, forest and beaches with four campsites offering breathtaking views of lake St. Lucia and lake Bhangazi. The campsites have showers, toilets and table and benches. Tents must be taken with you. The trail is 65 km long and is of average difficulty, and 8 people at a time can do it.
The Mziki Trail is also guided. It is a 3-day trail in the same area from the Base camp at Mount Tabor. There are three circular routes. The hut is an old radar station with beds, crockery, cutlery, gas cooker, gas fridge/freezer, shower and toilet. 38 km of average difficulty also for 8 people.

You will have to choose either the Emoyeni Or the Mziki, as they will be done at the same time.

The Giants Cup Trail (4 days) runs along the foothills of the Drakensberg near Himeville, from Sani Pass into Garden Castle. Small patches of indigenous forest on the first day, but mostly through mountain grassland with views of the crests of the Drakensberg. Many small lakes, tree ferns along rivers and occasional stands of Proteas. Bushman paintings on the second day. Huts have bunks and flush toilets. The trail is 47 km long, of average difficulty and all 16 will be accommodated.

Cost: Transport and accommodation approx. R1 200.00. The trail is R760.00.
A deposit of R400.00 will secure your place. Bookings start on 3rd February.
Phone Mervyn @ 715 6187 to book and enquire.

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Helderberg Farm Trail
Date: 23 September 2003
Hike Leader: Denise Hopkins
Reporter: Denise Hopkins
Hikers: Denise, Margie, Peter, Tony, Janet & Mike, Val, Gaynor, Sandy, Jenny, Erica, Deryck & John

After placing this hike on the schedule for the 4th time it was a relief not to cancel due to foul weather. We were expecting to be blown off the Helderberg but the mother of all South Easters did not follow us to Somerset West, which was warm and windless. The hike started from the tea garden, past the children’s playground and farm animals with a stroll through Granny’s forest, past the overnight hut and dam and on to tea under the biggest rock candlewood (that’s a tree!) in the Southern Hemisphere. I was disappointed to notice the promised strawberry fields are now fallow and filled with weeds.

We were accompanied by a couple of farm dogs, Snuffles a black cross Labrador/collie and Bakkies, a cute pug. The going got quite tough for our short legged friend and he huffed and puffed like a steam train on the way up. Margie carried him like little Lord Muck up the steep sections and the higher we went, we were rewarded by views stretching from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. We traversed the right hand side of the dome, which was in the shade, and we could look out over Gordon’s Bay and miles of vineyards towards Stellenbosch as we walked.

Lunch was shared with the dogs in the sun under the dome. The promise of tea and scones made our descent fairly quick with Tony B. and Mike taking turns to carry our ugly baby down again. Peter P. had a good laugh when the owner asked why the hikers are always so stupid as to carry his pug up and down the mountain? Cute rules, I guess! Bakkies collapsed under the tea table whilst we shared home made Ginger Beer, Carrot and Cheese Cakes and I had the long-awaited (yes, John) Strawberries with Ice Cream.

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Hike Report
Kiddies Hike – Silvermine en route to Steenberg Peak
Date: 17 November 2002
Leader: Rod Arnold
Report: Libby Arnold

Once again the junior hikers, 15 in all, (with almost as many adults) were raring to go, reluctantly behind the hike leader – Rod. Even the hot uphill climb up the nek didn’t deter them, as they looked for the items on Libby’s picture checklist, such as, anthills, insects, leucospernums etc. The most difficult ones to spot that day were butterflies strangely enough. Many of these young hikers have been to all the kiddies’ hikes, proving their enthusiasm, and for some visitors the hiking and rock scrambling were a new and exciting discovery. We would like to see more members and their youngsters on these hikes.

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Cecilia Waterfall
Leader: John Boakes
Reporter: Judy Mackintosh
Present: Gesine, Jane, John S., Julie, Lenny, Sandy, Sue, Sybil, Val, Judy

John and his merry band of followers attempted to enter Kirstenbosch at the lower end near the Bolus Herbarium. However a Security Guard was posted in this area and we were not allowed to gain access at this point although John had been doing this route for approximately 20 years. We then proceeded to enter Kirstenbosch via the Newlands Forest, having walked along Rhodes Avenue as far as Upper Paradise Road.
There is a beautiful sunny spot on the mountain looking towards Cecilia Ravine where we stopped for lunch. We were made aware of the changing moods of the mountain directly after this, when we ascended zigzagging south into the icy southeaster. What an amazing contrast of weather.

The mountain dahlias were out in all their glory as were the ixias and lobelias. Descending into Kirstenbosch was a treat, as the Gardens are looking particularly beautiful this year. We did feel a pang however, when our band of thirsty hikers reminisced about the no – longer-in –existence pre-fab tearoom where we had spent many happy hours after our hikes, refreshing ourselves and treating ourselves to wonderful apple pie and ice cream. Many of us are hoping that a similar victualling abode will be built on the upper reaches of Kirstenbosch in the near future.

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Limietberg Trail with Sapstap
Reporter: Peter P

I had not done the full Limietberg Trail before, so when I heard that Andre’s SAPSTAP were going to do it, I asked if I could join them. “Yes,” they said, so I packed my bags and on the appointed day Fritz picked me up at daybreak. Paarl is a pretty little place as the sun rises and shines on the rock, so we waited outside the Police station, and waited, and waited, and used the police toilets, and waited for the rest of Sapstap to join us. The sun disappeared and was replaced by ominous dark clouds. It began to drizzle. Sapstap began to arrive. When we were all assembled and introduced we were told that the second day on the trail was closed so we would do the first day twice, there and back. Now we did not have to drop off cars at Tweede Tol so we all drove to Limietberg Nature Reserve and the start. Rain was now falling. At the Reserve a lady ranger and her dog met us. She reiterated that the second day’s route was closed because of bad erosion. However as we were the Police hiking club and were presumably competent we could do it if we wanted to. “How,” we asked, we have not left cars at Tweede Tol. “No problem”, she said, “I will fetch you with my trusty bakkie”. Boy! it was now raining. It resembled an equatorial forest. It rained all the way from the start till we got to the hut at Happy Valley! Happy Valley?? All the way there I worried that maybe I had not packed a dry pair of pants. Any way at the hut I found that I had, so all was well with me. All was not well with Fritz. Water had go into his bag and his sleeping bag was wet and his tracksuit was wet. We set about making something hot to drink and started to get to know our fellow hikers. It appeared that the young policemen have neglected to bring any of the stuff that all hickers pack first. Viz.OB’s, or Oude Meester, or any of that sort of delicacy. So we passed around my plastic bottle of OB’s and they made a concoction of beer and other stuff they found which tasted, well, to put it kindly, horrible. But they drank it. It continued raining until we went to bed.

Next morning broke with the sun shining, and a cold breeze. So we set off at 8 am. The second day starts off easily enough till one reaches the tar road at Baines Kloof village. Then things get nasty. The first part of the climb goes 6k’s to Limiet Kop. So named because the pioneers believed, correctly, that this was the limit of civilization. The path climbs for another 5k’s to the summit of Pic Blanc. So named because one is pale and wan because of fatigue. How can they make you Summit a mountain after climbing for 11k’s? Now the path starts to descend. Now it becomes clear as to why the trail is closed. It is very eroded and very slippery and your progress is very slow. And the strain on your feet and ankles becomes quite severe. And so after 8 weary hours and 17 hard k’s we reached the camping site at Tweede Tol. Here the four of us waited for Rika, the lady ranger. She arrived and we waited for the rest of the group. They eventually arrived 2 hours later. Some of the group decided to go for something to eat in Paarl and took Rika for dinner as reward for her kindness. Fritz and I left for home and the best nights sleep I have had for a long time.

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Muizenberg Peak
Date: Saturday 21 September 2002
Hike Leader: Paul Taylor
Reporter: Margie Crawley
Present: Paul, Derryck, Sandy, Geoffrey B., Annette, Mervyn, Jen, Tony, Peter, Rene and moi.

An excellent turn-out, considering the vicious South-Easter which had come up earlier in the day, being 19 persons in all – including 7 visitors and 12 members as listed above. Paul is without doubt a very popular hike leader! Annette kindly offered to be TEC; it was grand to see her after a long spell.

Paul explained our route, which would change if the weather really turned foul; we had to get on top first to find out. We duly set off, having successfully negotiated the many steps leading up to Boyes Drive from the parking lot whilst really upsetting the Alsatian dog which lives in the house just below the road as we walked past him. We admired the small caramel and white puppy who didn’t mind our passing by, however, and I even got a finger lick as well, the Council really mean business and we were pleased to see huge pines and eucalypts which had been felled in the surrounding forest and over the road. The visitors were in fine form; there was no stopping them! We were absolutely thrilled to see 3 whales just below us in the blue/green waters of False Bay proudly showing off their beautilful and graceful dives and elegant symmetry. The white horses were really whipping up the seas leaping over the many, many white waves in turbulent False Bay below us. Soon, though, the whole bay was lost to sight as we ascended into the mist and clouds. Jersey and anoraks were donned and even some beanies amongst us. It was cold alright! Surprisingly, though, we all needed the occasional water to drink despite the chilliness and howling wind, which was blowing us all around.

We finally got to the top of Mimetes Valley and over into the Silvermine area where Paul called a welcome tea break at Junction Pool. It was a lovely spot to sit at, on green, green grass surrounded by what looked like wild sweet peas bushes whilst listening to the noise of the brown coloured water rushing by in the river just below us. The compulsory call for filling up of water bottles (mine) was duly executed making my evening Scotch just that much sweeter.

We didn’t linger long, it was getting colder by the minute and the wind was really whipping through our wet t-shirts and bodies so off we set into the mist and clouds once more. Coming down Peck’s Valley was at times quite hairy, Jen nearly got knocked off her perch on several occasions as did quite a few of us, made defenseless by Nature’s forces. I was glad of my stick to help steady me down. Towards the end of the trail just before Boyes Drive came into view once more, one of the visitors pointed out some exquisite parasitical plant – big, fat, red clumps of flowers with no leaves growing right on the pathway, which he said grew on the roots of other plants but magic to view.

To our absolute chargrain the two minutes left of the rugby game (as I heard it on the radio once in the car) was won by Sharks over Stormers at 36 to 29 – what a bummer after such a lovely afternoon’s hike. Thanks again, Paul!

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New Table Mountain Map
Reporter: Paul Taylor

The first in a series of six maps covering the Cape Peninsula National Park has recently become available. It is a Ziggy map (remember the old Ziggy series of the 70’s) of Table Mountain by Peter Slingsby and is endorsed by the National Park. It has a map scale of 1:20 000, a contour interval of 20 meters and claims to be GPS compatible with a 200 meter grid interval for easy scaling off of co-ordinates. Furthermore, it gives brief descriptions of twenty-two different hikes on the mountain and includes a list of emergency phone numbers. All in all, this is a very useful acquisition for any hike leader or anyone else for that matter with an interest in being able to find one’s way around the mountain. It is available at Exclusive Books at a price of R35.00.

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Did you Know?????
Reporter: Peter P.

Sirkelsvlei, a small perennial lake near Olifantsbos in the Cape Point Reserve is unique. It has no apparent water supply. The water level is maintained partly by seepage. Because this water filters through acid sands it would be expected that the water in the vlei would also be acidic. After all, the water in streams and man made water holes ar acidic. Sirkelvlei has neutral water. This may mean that there is a subterranean source of water. The water tastes brak but test have indicated that it is not very saline. Although the vlei has some aquatic life for example, the Cape River Frog and fresh water shrimp, it does not attract much in the way of bird life. Not much is known about this body of water.

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Observation Peak
Date: Sunday 25 August 2002
Leader: Mervyn Henderson
Reporter: Dave Crouch

A walk up Observation Peak

13 seasoned members of the trails club gathered at the Enviro-Centre early on Sunday morning. Mervyn read us our rights as always, “you hike at your own risk, but we will endeavor to bring you back in one piece,” and collected our money before allowing us to get in the cars.

We then set off in three cars for the top of Bain’s Kloof. Mervyn fooled us all by not stopping at his traditional one stop and arriving early. After parking our cars near the Lodge we set off for the river. There was an icy wind blowing and it looked as if the peak would be closed in. 5 minutes later we experienced our first obstacle – the Wit River was high and we could not cross at the usual point. This meant a 45-minute delay as we bashed our way upstream, took off boots and waded the river. Once across we picked up a good pace with Ian bringing up the rear. Soon we could see the waterfall on the horizon. Alison had new boots and did a boot change before we started the serious climb up the side of the gorge. Beautiful ericas waved us on our way.

Once we reached the river on the plateau (above the waterfall) the group split into two – a summit group and a river group. With time running out, the summit group left immediately, bundu bashing towards Observation Peak. Brian decided that he did not want to summit but that his GPS did. Fording the stream before the serious uphill, part of the Summit Team decided to join the River Team. The remaining summit party (7) hurried on. The going was hard with us taking the shortest (but steepest) route to the top. Just as we were about to give up (not really) Ian informed us that the cool breeze we were experiencing meant that we were near the top. This proved to be true and we ran out of mountain, summating a 4 minutes to 1pm. The top was clear and we had a wonderful view of the surrounding mountains. Everyone collapsed in a heap to eat lunch and get back our breath. But hikers of note that we are, within 5 minutes everyone was talking about which of the surrounding mountains they would like to climb and how to do it. A dispute on how high we had climbed ensued, brought to a rapid conclusion after consulting Brian’s GPS (the answer was over 800m from the car park.) As we ate our lunch on the windward lea of the peak, an eagle (which our resident ornithologist then correctly? indentified as a jackal buzzard) flew overhead. For some reason no one took a picture on the top, but the reading on Brian’s GPS proves we did make it. Phil produced a welcome bag of crisps, which he very generously handed around. Soon it was time to start down. Due to the cold wind, no one was keen to swim, which meant that progress was smooth. We were soon reunited with the River Team who had enjoyed a lazy lunch. Alison had gone on ahead because he knees were sore; we only caught up with her just before the river. We arrived back at our cars at exactly 5pm. All in all, a great day for a hike and those who summated all agreed it was work the extra effort. And that’s more, as promised; Mervyn had again managed to get everyone (and Brian’s GPS) back safely. Thanks to Mervyn and fellow hikers for a great day.

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Peter’s Comedy of errors or much ado about nothing.
Reporter: Peter P
Dramatis personae: Peter, fearless leader – Tony, a merchant – Geoff, a second merchant and handyman – Deryk, Duke of Kenilworth – Peter, a wandering visitor – Lenny, a clown.

It seemed that the Genadendal Trail was never going to happen. At first offering I got two takers. So I offered again and this time managed to scrape up six takers. I don’t know what happened to the females of the club, all the takers were male. (You don’t know what you missed girls, or maybe you do.)
So we arrived in Genadendal on the appointed Friday evening. All seemed normal. We bought wood, made a fire, braaied our meat, drank a few beers and decided to have an early night. On the way to our dormitory we ran into some females. We quizzed them as to what they were doing there and found out that they were members of some church or other and that they were going to pray all night for South Africa. She did not say that along with praying they were going to ‘sing’ too. Along with their chanting and assorted noises from my sleeping companions I had a restful night.

Genadendal trail follows a route over the Riviersonderend Mountains, which is probably 200 years old. Day 1 starts with a fair climb up the left bank of a deep kloof. Once over the top it follows an attractive route passing some strange rocks and two attractive swimming pools. It was an overcast day (it had rained most of the night) so we did not swim. The first day ends at a farmhouse where one can buy meat and beer or wine. All was hunky dory. We established ourselves at the hut and were joined there by 4 members of the Meridians. We braaied, we drank beer, we drank wine, we chatted, we went to bed.

And so the second day broke bright and sunny. Now I must tell you, my dear reader, that prior to our setting off to do this trail, Lenny had told me that he was having trouble with his feet. All the first day he lagged far behind and we waited for him to catch up every half hour or so. We set off for the second day a 07h00. The first part is about 3k’s on a jeep track till one gets to a turn off to the mountain one has to climb to get out of the valley. We missed this turn off and found what looked like the turn off but wasn’t. We waited for Lenny; 15 minutes went by, No Lenny. I sent the other 4 on. I waited for Lenny, another 15 minutes, I got worried. Had Lenny had a mishap? Had his feet given up? I decided to walk back along the trail to find him. I walked all the way back to the farmhouse. No Lenny! The Meridians had not seen him. The farmer had not seen him. So I hiked all the way back. Lenny, Lenny, I shouted as I walked. No response. In the distance I saw Tony, Geoff and Deryk. They had found that they were on the wrong path and had turned back and had now found the correct path, which turned off quite a way before the spot where we had waited for Lenny. He had turned off at the correct spot, which was why I could not find him. Lenny was now ahead of us. But I did not know this for sure. Peter the visitor had last been seen disappearing up the side of the mountain. I was exhausted. The extra 6k’s at an extra fast rate had taken its toll. It is a 3-hour climb out of the valley. We stopped for lunch on the top. I had lost 33% of my group. As we started the steep descent I was delighted to hear Peter the wanderer’s voice. At least I had found one of the group. Lenny was still missing. At least there were no mishaps. Lenny was found in Genadendal where he was the first to arrive. The Genadendal Trail is one of the best trails I have done. Really ladies do yourselves a favour and do it if it is advertised again. Who knows, I might do it again soon.

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Photographic Competition.

Get your camera loaded with either color print film, color slide film or if you can get it, black and white film, and get out the hikes and take a photograph that will earn for you the accolade of. “BEST PHOTOGRAPHER IN THE TRAILS CLUB OF SOUTH AFRICA”. We will organize a social evening late in 2003 to assess the art works.

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Overnight Trails

Are you interested in doing an overnight trail? Do you wonder what its all about? Not sure if you would be able to complete one, not sure about what equipment is needed. We know that there must be a few beginners out there just itching to really get into the mountains. Please do not hesitate to phone one of the hike leaders. Some of us even have extra gear that you could borrow before you go out and buy stuff you don’t need.

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Hike Leaders phone numbers.

Mervyn Henderson - 714 6187, Marie-Paule Henshall-Howard – 674 1539, Tommy Hiscock – 712 7476, Peter P. – 685 2033, Paul Taylor – 715 5382, Tony Burton – 701 5021

We are currently looking into a beginners trail. So lets hear from you and lets get you up into the mountains where your sense of seclusion and rustication will be so great that we may have trouble getting you to come down again.

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Red Hill
Date: 24 November 2002
Hike Leader: Tony Burton
Reporter: Marilyn Mills

Once everyone had arrived at the garage in Glencairn Heights at 08h00 in the morning, we shared cars and set off for Red Hill. Peter, with a carload of ladies, disappeared very quickly to Tony’s concern. Knowing Peter as well as he does, he should have known that an opportunity to get 3 ladies alone on Red Hill before the rest of us joined him, was too tempting. We found them waiting for us at the top of the Hill.

Tony took us on a scenic drive along the narrow dirt road passing many skeleton houses, before turning around to get back to what he knew all along was the start of the hike! I enjoyed the short drive past those houses as I love history and they reminded us of those past lives up there.

The hike was an easy one as he had promised. We went along the paths and across the fields filled with mega beautiful wild flowers. Different varieties cropped up around every corner and it was great that a couple of hikers had brought their wildflower books with so that we could identify those flowers that we did not recognise.

We had our tea break sitting on a rock ledge overlooking Scarborough on a perfect summer’s day. It was such a treat not to have to fight the wind. We could choose the right spot to sit for a change without looking for a windbreak. We then followed a different path back in the direction we had come from, walking towards the lake that Tony had highlighted for our lunch stop. He has such a wonderful sense of direction that even when the path seemed to be veering off the wrong way, he turned and took us across the fields and was spot on! We came over a hill to look down on a very lovely, large lake. After a bit of mild bundu bashing we reached the water’s edge and selected our spot for lunch only to be surrounded by a lot of bees. Peter led a small group up the rising to sit on the rocks away from the water in the hope of escaping the bees but he needn’t have bothered as once we all sat down and stopped moving around, the bees disappeared. I could have spent the entire afternoon there at the water’s edge it was so relaxing and peaceful. Brian had a walk in the water but no one was brave enough to take Tony up on his invitation to skinny dip. Tony didn’t entertain us either by stripping… On the other side of the lake we spotted 2 large dogs, probably Great Danes with a couple of people sitting on the bank. Other than them, we had the place to ourselves.

Conversation was pretty good all round with Tony even asking if a certain lady was pregnant when she said that she was not feeling so well. He was also rather interested in her early morning activities; I hope it was her cooking that he was referring to! We reluctantly left our lunch spot and walked around the lake to join up with the path on the other side. Lenny led a small group off to look for a rare flower that he had seen 3 weeks before and I took the opportunity of taking my boots off and walking in the water to cool my feet down. The return walk went rather quickly and early afternoon found us back at the cars.

The afternoon finished with some of us stopping off at the pub in Fish Hoek for beers and much to Peter’s disgust, a coke with lemon for me. I had had enough champagne and wine the day before, celebrating my birthday, thanks to my great friends. This hike was just what I needed to make my birthday weekend a really special one. Thanks to everyone for the good company on the hike and to Tony for taking us to that special place which was a first for most of us. He promises a return trip so we’ll hold him to that!

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Six Dams
Date: 10 November 2002
Leader: John Boakes
Reporter: Marilyn Mills

On a lovely fresh Sunday morning I hesitantly ventured out to join John on his 6 dams hike. As I have done very little uphill hiking for a number of months I just knew I was going to suffer afterwards. A really nice group of 7 ladies were waiting for John, the only thorn amongst the roses (not that he minded of course). We started off on the hike saying that the breeze was rather fresh and we hoped that it would warm up a bit. John took us off on a short cut uphill through the forest, he always knows these wonderful short cuts to make us feel inspired. It was still cool amongst the trees but that was very welcome considering the effort it took for all of us ladies to hike uphill. You know everyone is taking strain when the talking stops and the heavy breathing starts!

There were quite a few other people also walking and many, many dogs of all breeds, shapes and sizes. Walking up the concrete Clayton road is quite an experience. We took it in stages but John was right, once we reached the bridge, it seemed to level out even though it was still uphill. It took us almost an hour and a half to get to the top from the car park, but wow, it was worth the effort! The world up there is something else. Walking along the contour path we had an amazing vista of fynbos, hills, and wonderful bird life. The proteas were out in all their glory as well as a lot of heather making colorful splashes on the hillsides. The dams were reasonably full considering the amount of rain we have had in the last couple of months with only Victoria drained, possibly due to pending inspections. The rock formations in the empty dam were incredibly interesting with their white color and amazing shapes. We were surprised to meet the courageous 91-year-old Wally walking along the contour park. He had started from Constantia Nek at 7h00 and had walked to the Mountain Club hut for breakfast and was now on his way back to Constantia Nek. Walking with his 2 sticks, he is certainly an inspiration for those of us who believe we have limitations.

The icy wind came up quite strongly and our tea break was spent clustered in front of a rock formation at Kasteelspoort, and oh, that coffee was good! We then continued head on into the wind past Woodhead to the Museum. Besides being very interesting, the museum was also a welcome break from that wind! It’s amazing to think how all that very heavy equipment was taken up there in the 1800’s and how their workmanship has stood the test of time. I love looking at historical photos and at the people of a different era. The workers looked so overdressed compared to our dress codes of today. We left the shelter of the museum and continued on past Skeleton Gorge to Castle Rock for lunch.

Perched on top of a rock platform in the shelter of a higher rock overlay, we were enjoying our lunch until we noticed a few rather large ants coming in for a snack. A few ants at a time were not a problem but John suddenly moved his foot and discovered that he had been right over the ant nest. Disturbing them, the whole army came out and we decided it was time to move on.

The homeward trip took us past Ash Valley and thankfully the wind died down more and more as we descended back into Cecilia Forest. My hips and knees were telling me quite forcefully on the way down that I had given them a hard time. More regular uphill training and hikes are definitely needed so I guess you will be seeing more of me in the months ahead. Regardless of the aches, it was a truly enjoyable day with a really nice bunch of hikers, so thank you to all of you for the good company and to John for taking us on his annual trip to the 6 dams.

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Tony’s Smitswinkel to Simonstown
Date: 6 October 2002
Reporter: Peter P.

It all began as a beautiful day. As promised by the weather boffins the sun was shining out of a clear blue sky. Birds were singing in the trees, the breeze was rustling the new leaves in those trees. All in all a great day. Bag packed with a sticky bun and a sandwich and a flask of tea, I set off for Simonstown and the great adventure. Plenty of time, I thought, as I steered my car toward the Blue Route. Then it struck me. Did I pack a pair of socks? A quick check in the boot. No socks. Turn the car around, go home. Time is now not so plentiful. Arrival at the meeting point and everyone is patiently waiting. Quickly done socks and boots and off we all go. About an hour into the hike I began to feel that all was not right with my feet. I was struck again. Did I put my orthotics into my boots? No! I had forgotten. I was having a truly bad day. The path leads up the Swartkopberge. At first there is a bit of bundu bashing and the path when found, leads steeply up and up. At the top it levels out and the views are spectacular. It is of course spring and the fynbos was unreal. We even saw whales in the sea far below and I began to envy the sailors, sailing in False Bay, with their feet up. Near Swartkop itself there had been a recent fire so the fynbos, although sparse, was beginning to recover. Painted ladies were in profusion and we even saw a white disa. We stopped for lunch on the top of Swartkop. By this time I had slowed to almost a crawl, my feet were killing me and we still had to descend to the cars in Simonstown. Anyway, I did manage to get down. Albeit about half an hour after everyone else. The drivers had already left to fetch the cars left at the gate to the reserve. The beers at the 2/6 pub were probably the best I have ever had. I apologies to Tony, Rory, Dawn, Brian, Sue, Penny and Ray for been so slow and holding them up. Sore feet are a curse we don’t have to suffer. Read the words of Dallas Fell, a podiatrist, in this newsletter and heed them well.

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Tony’s Expedition into Klaasjagersberg
Reporter: Peter P.

We had decided it some months ago. Both Derrick and I had told Tony that if he didn’t put this hike on the schedule we would. So he did and on the appointed day 7 adventurers met to have another look at Klaasjagersberg etc. It was a perfect hiking day, a pity more members did not take the opportunity. After the care shuttle, we started at Wildeschutsbrank picnic area. A path leads up steadily till a jeep track is found. We searched for a path we had descended on our recce, couldn’t find it and so bush whacked up to the rock band on Klaasjagersberg. A little easy scrambling found us on the top next to the trig beacon. Teatime. After tea we surveyed Cape point gap and the best way to the Swartkopberg path to Swartkop and thence to the cars. We chose the wrong option and had to bush whack again. Never mind. We learned from our mistake so that next time you will have an easier hike. As far as I know, this route is new to the TCSA. I can recommend this hike. Next time it appears on the schedule please do it. You will not be disappointed.

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Whale Trail:
Date: 8 – 12 October 2002
Leader: Mervyn Henderson
Hikers: Reni Bürgi, Ian Cowburn, Frances Hills, Steve Behrens, Marie-Paule Henshall-Howard, Phillip Williams, Carola Meyer, John Boakes, Carol Cromhout
Reporter: Reni (with additions by Marie-Paule and Mervyn)

This is the best trail I have ever done! Beautiful fynbos, great views, picturesque rock formations, stunning coastal lines with rock pools and whales, sunny skies, great company - truly superb.

We all met in the late afternoon of Monday at the Potberg hut near De Hope Nature Reserve, where we braaied on a lovely indoor braai in a well appointed hut with two bedrooms and a large kitchen with plenty space around the table, electricity and hot showers. This standard was maintained throughout all the huts, and makes this trail a real luxury one. Louise, the CNCB ranger, visited us and gave a pep talk on climbing the Potberg. That afternoon we were entertained by Ian's car hooting when driving around any bends, and later by John's car alarm going off every so often.

Just as well we left all the car noises behind us when setting off early the next morning to do the 14 km hike over Potberg to Cupidoskraal. It was a reasonably strenuous but well graded, longish hike over the Potberg in quite strong winds, particularly when walking along the crest of the mountain. We got to the top in 1 hr and 40 minutes; about half the time Louise had suggested it would take! We were rewarded with splendid fynbos, lovely views, interesting birds, and rock formations similar to those in the Cederberg Mountains. The flowers was very beautiful with many stunning everlastings of different colours ranging from shocking pink to poached egg, yellow in the middle with a white surround. There was little shade, but the wind helped cooling us down somewhat. Steve was the only one to spot a Cape Vulture, and then promptly lost his binoculars! Carol, having had to use devious means to persuade her principal that she was going to Everest, also made the top in good time. Steve only noticed that he had lost his binoculars about 2 hours after the lunch stop, and ran back all the way to look for them without success. He slept well that night after the extra 10 km or so of walking! We reached Cupidoskraal mid afternoon. John was out front and like all good leaders, narrowly avoided stepping on a puff adder guarding the path to the hut.

That night the wind howled very strongly, and I prayed all night that it may calm down, otherwise it would be very unpleasant walking. Well, it did settle down to a bearable level, and we had another sunny day for a long walk (again about 14 km) heading down towards the coast. The sun was beating down on as and we all got a good tan. The last few kilometres were really hot with no shade, and the last people to arrive did take a bit of strain. The water didn't taste good either at that hut, but with a bit of flavouring it was drinkable. Noetsie, as this hut is called, is situated close to the beach on a lovely bay, where we immediately started to watch the whales right from the stoep.

The third day to Hamerkop was a rather short hike about 8 km along the coast. I took plenty of photographs. The sea was turquoise, the sky blue and everything just too perfect for words! At the lunch spot Stilgat (we arrived there mid-morning!), some people snorkelled in the beautiful rock pools in warmish waters, where as others just explored the interesting creatures under water. Ian and Mervyn discovered a beautiful red fish, about 30 cm long, and I tickled a sea anemone until it grabbed my finger, which gave me a fright! John walked ahead fast, and must have arrived at the hut at about 11 am! This gave him plenty time for resting and whale watching.

The fourth day from Hamerkop to Vaalkrans was longer again, starting with a long beach walk through soft sand, which was rather tiring! Some people saw a seal pup, and everybody spotted lots of whales with their calves. From various lookout points along the way we could watch their performances and were lucky to see a school of dolphins, too. For tea we branched off the path down to the beach once more to sit on a lovely shelly beach where we ate up some more snacks (there was absolutely no food left in my pack by the end of the trail!).

Along this stretch of coastal line we encountered a lot of derelict buildings of what looked like former holiday houses. Vaalkrans is built on a huge cave, and it was quite something to imagine the sea washing up underneath the building. It also had a stunning whale watching lookout point right in front of the hut, where we would drink our teas and enjoy sundowners. Whilst Mervyn still had some butternut to braai on the last night, most of us resorted to our least favourite meal like smash and toppers, pasta with sauce etc. The previous couple of nights had seen some rather inventive menus like Thai green curry, oysters in Cajun rice etc. Marie-Paule, however, still managed to produce a lovely fresh vegetable stir-fry and very successfully feasted on reconstituted mincemeat. This last night saw us eating dinner by candlelight, as the electricity (normally fed by a solar powered battery) didn’t work. After 4 bright and sunny days it got overcast as we ate our dinners and then started to drizzle and continued throughout the night. The logbook at the hut mentioned an infestation with fish moths. During the whole night I felt around my sleeping bag and kept checking with my torch around me to see whether the feared creatures perhaps already covered me. Luckily, I only saw a few on the walls, and was safe.

The next morning, sadly our last day, we set out in overcast weather, which suited the fynbos well. The path followed the coast, and the highlight of the morning was the sighting of a whale calf, washed up on the beach. We could go really close, and it was astounding to see the size of this creature. It only just started smelling, and the environmental staff didn't know of it yet, so they were glad to be given information about it. They immediately set out to dissect it to find out the reason for it to be stranded. This stretch of coast had abundant interesting rock formations, some of them resembling a Japanese rock garden, and we could make out all sorts of shapes, from ducks to dragons. This last day from Vaalkrans to Koppie Aleen was very short, and we were almost a bit disappointed to be arriving at the collection point at about 10.30 am. The transport back to our cars was to fetch us at 12:00, so we had ample time for a cold shower at the environmental centre, do some more whale and dolphin watching and explore the area. On the way back, we craved a decent lunch and took the first opportunity in Bredasdorp in a new and stylish coffee place, where we enjoyed a splendid meal: very recommendable!

Mervyn led the hike so that everybody could walk at their own pace, giving us much freedom in our movements. We started every day around 7.30 am and went to sleep rather early, too, full of lovely impressions, sights and sounds. There is surely nothing better then sleeping to the sound of waves rolling and crashing.

Many thanks to Mervyn for organising and leading this trail in great style. Thanks for everybody's company which made this a very enjoyable and memorable trail.

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