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February/March 2003 Newsletter

From your Editor …

Greetings and salutations to all of you - members and recent new members of our fraternity of trailists, privileged to have so much on offer, let's make use of it and then I can expect a report for the Newsletter - P L E A S E!!!

I have received a most interesting report via e-mail from New Zealand about Tony's river jaunt (See Page 9) which reminds me of the time we were at a family Christmas get-together at our cottage in the Natal Midlands. There had been a lot of rain and the river that flows down through the valley was in flood. We decided that this was the time to float down the rapidly flowing water on tractor inner tubes, etc. We started the perilous journey, immediately being washed off the tubes and in trying to stop and get a foothold so as to regain our position back on the tube, had our legs wedged between rocks and then realised that this was a dangerous and foolhardy pastime. There wasn't much that we could do about it though as we rushed headlong within the torrent and then tried to stop and get a foothold so as to jump back onto the tubes.
We came on down towards the cottage and the low level bridge where normally the water flowed through the 2 large pipes that the bridge had been built upon but now with the flood, the water was flowing right over the top of the bridge. It was here that a very serious situation developed and where we should have ideally floated on to the top of the bridge in order to stand up and wade through the streaming water to the road. One of the ladies was off her tube and her legs were drawn to the water funnelling through the large pipe below. I saw this and jumped off my tube to help her and immediately was in the same, if not worse, predicament, with both my legs firmly wedged against the side of the bridge, immovable because of the water's force. I felt that I would be sucked down, to be washed through that awful pipe and on into the turbulent river beyond, notwithstanding the possibility of a log stuck within the pipe. I clung perilously to the edge of that low level bridge and called for help and my brother-in-law who had floated onto the bridge came and hauled me out. There I stood with blood pouring down my legs from where the concrete had scratched me. The young lady looked equally shocked and bleeding but had managed to pull herself up. To demonstrate the force of that water our tackies had been ripped off our feet and they must still lie somewhere in the dam that the river flows into.

Anyway, Tony, now you know why I was not there on Sunday - albeit with a calm river and your excellent leadership.

Margie and I went to see a most enjoyable film recently, entitled "Mostly Martha". It really appealed to me with much of the film to do with top class restaurant cooking, Martha was portrayed as a perfectionist chef. What came out is that she would become irate if a patron complained about the food. In other words, that patron was questioning the ability of that chef as an expert in her field to cook perfectly and classically correctly. You could say that the patron is always correct (but not necessarily an expert on the preparation of food) who ultimately provides the income to keep the restaurant profitable.

Let me relate to what happened formerly when I called on 5 star hotels and restaurants. There would be complaints from guests and I would ask the Maitre'd or Chef de Cuisine what the procedure would be when this happened. The restaurant manager, who in those days was a highly trained European expert on food and entitled to give his/her opinion on the food in question, would take a teaspoon or a knife and fork to personally try the food. He/she would say that he/she felt that the food was correctly prepared/underdone /under-over seasoned, etc., or whatever, according to the norm (or of course maybe it was not) and he/she would then say - no matter, could they offer the patron something else instead. Maybe it does not need to go to the extent of Martha's outbursts when told that the meat was NOT rare enough - she stormed through from the kitchen, much to the horror of the other guests and slapped down a piece of RAW meat onto the table and proceeded to rip the tablecloth off the table. Her integrity was being questioned!

Let me not take up too much space of our Newsletter and leave room for report backs and other articles from you all and hope that we shall be together more often in more beautiful places in the coming year, more so than in the past. I look forward to that!

Cheers and God bless,
Your fellow trailist and Editor,

A highway patrolman pulled alongside a speeding car on the freeway. Glancing at the car, he was astounded to see that the lady behind the wheel was knitting. Realising that she was oblivious to his flashing lights and siren, the trooper cranked down his window, turned on his bullhorn and yells, "PULL OVER". "NO," she yelled back over the sound of the siren, "It's a SCARF!"

The old family physician being away on vacation, entrusted his practice to his son - a recent medical student. When the old man returned, the youngster told him among other things, that he cured Miss Ferguson, an aged and wealthy spinster, of her chronic indigestion. "My boy," said the old doctor, "I'm proud of you, but Miss Ferguson's indigestion is what put you through college."

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REPORTER - Karen ten Velden
21 December - 25 December 2001

The opportunity to explore this pristine area a second time round was certainly not to be missed and a welcome excuse to miss the frenetic pre-Christmas rush!

Exactly 4 years ago I had been part of a similar trip, and was struck by the awesome beauty of the area. Our plan was to start from Ceres, hike to Milner Vlakte and from there to Milner Peak, 1995m. and Milner Needle (not for the faint hearted!). Then 3 days to traverse to Worcestor, and our awaiting vehicle. Saturday morning saw a bright and early start, the weather forecasts varied, however, thunderstorms and rain were a recurrent theme! Good weather was predicted from Sunday 22nd. Much deliberation over the need for tents, ground sheets and make-shift shelters decided upon (eventually!).

The climb, with heavy packs (some very) was demanding, relentless skies getting progressively greyer and more ominous, rumbling thunder heightened our sense of anticipation! A late lunch stop, about 2/3rds of the climb underway and the rain started. We headed for rocky overhangs not anticipating the ferocity of the storm that followed. High winds, torrential rain, thunder and lightning from all sides. I was alone under a meagre shelter feeling very small particularly when I felt a blow to my head. The impact of a lightning bolt which struck nearby! As ear-splitting thunder once again roared I waited for rocks to fall and my final moment, a moment indelibly etched in my memory! Others felt similar sensations, some through their feet as they were standing ankle deep in water where only a short time earlier the slope had been bone dry. Karen was sitting, bum in the water!

From left and right we were then enfolded in mist, it really was a sobering, humbling experience. The decision was made (reluctantly by some!), to go back to base where there were crude shelters under a small pine forest, next to the farm dam. The storm was clearly not over. High winds necessitated rocks to secure the tent pegs, however, our wet stuff soon dried. The sunset of fiery orange clouds was spectacular as we mulled over the experience.

I awoke early and enjoyed dramatic views over the farm dam, the cry of the Fish Eagle and the Pied Kingfisher fishing for breakfast completed the picture. Volatile weather patterns left us undecided until lunchtime when we felt confident enough to retrace our steps to the vlakte (this time, however, not without my tent!). The vlakte offers a wonderful camp, a perennial stream dotted with pools, fantastic views towards Milner peak and Waaihoek, and tranquillity. The days that followed were characterised by starry nights and misty mornings gradually clearing in the afternoon. In view of these conditions we decided to climb Milner Peak and Milner Needle using the vlakte as base camp. The hike was spectacular, a cool breeze and swirling mist making the views all more dramatic. At one point we looked down onto a sea of cloud.

We could see why the sheer rock faces offer such ideal conditions for base jumpers and rock climbers. The last pitch of Milner Needle is possible to climb without the aid of a rope but is very exposed, most of us gave it a miss! On Tuesday we followed the river passing wonderful pools on the way to a well hidden cave on the lower slopes of the Shale Peaks (part of the Traverse). What a view! From there 6 of us headed up, up, and up but the views were worth the sweat! The other 3 spent the time lazing in the pools, reading and soaking up the sun (tough choice!). Christmas Day, clear sky and the great descent. A welcome shower or swim in the dam followed by Christmas cake (thanks, Stuart). We ended the trip with beers and food at the Ceres Hotel, and already it seemed like a dream.

Thanks Karen, Geoffrey (g), Kathryn, Peter W (g), Richard, Sandy, Stuart, Tony B.
(Ed. Thank you for sending this article in, Karen, seeing there were 4 of us TCSA members as well - quite some experience!)

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O.K., so there don't seem to be any of you out there. Beginners, I mean. You all know what it entails. I am only going on the response we got to our appeal in the last bumper Newsletter. No one phoned!!! So if you all know about trailing, how come it is always the same people who phone to book trails? Come on, people. Don't be bashful. It really is a lot of FUN. Phone me on 021 685 2033. WE WILL ARRANGE AN EASY OVERNIGHT TRAIL FOR YOU TO START ON - PROMISE!

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Saturday 18 January 2002

I did not read my schedule properly, so I arrived at the end of Boyes Drive instead of at Kalk Bay station. No one was there at 13h00 and I thought that TCSA members had chickened out of caving as has happened before. To my surprise, 13 members and 8 visitors had met at the station and duly arrived at the place where I was waiting. After checking everyone in and giving the customary warning, Andre led us off up the steps leading to Trappieskop. We turned off the path and bushwhacked towards Cave Peak.

After a bit of very mild scrambling, we came to an overhand where Andre called for a water break. Here he told us that as one or two of the crew did not want to go into the caves, they would wait there for us and we could leave our rucksacks behind. We proceeded to the caves. Harbour View Cave has a spectacular view of the harbour, hence its name. To get 19 people in and out of the narrow passages of this cave took some time. At times only 3 people could crawl into the space and then turn around and crawl out again. Some of the passages required a person to get onto their stomachs and crawl along on their elbows. After visiting 3 caves we returned to our bags. Water never tasted so good!

Well now there was a bit more scrambling. This time a little more difficult but with Andre's gentle instruction all managed quite easily. Now we went on to Boomslang Cave. Boomslang goes from one side of Cave Peak to the other side, right through the mountain. All of us had to do this one. Bats hung from the ceiling of the large chamber in the middle of the mountain. Pitch darkness and so silent that one could hear one's blood cursing in one's ears. One the other side we stopped for a drink and debated whether we should go on to The Amphitheatre and Robin Hood's cave. It was however too late. Here Conrad took the names of those brave enough to go with him to Robin Hood cave at a later date.

Most of us went of to the Brass Bell and enjoyed a beer to bring the enjoyable day to a close.

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Sunday 19 January 2003

07h30 on a Sunday morning is generally not a problem. However, after a Saturday night braai, the problem takes on another hue altogether. Tony said to give him a scotch ring at 06h30. This was almost a problem but I managed by the skin of my teeth. The other 5 members of the crew appeared all bushy ttailed and bright eyed and we set off in 2 cars from the Enviro Centre. The weather was overcast and the boffins had said there was a 60% chance of rain. A chilly, stiffish wind was blowing. We each chipped in another R2,00 to get the cars into the reserve and rove to our starting point.

A gentle climb up along a Jeep track, up and up we went. I won't go into details but my stomach started to object to the punishment I had put it through at the braai. We pushed on, our target was the contour path under the rock band of the majestic mountains above us. Mervyn had to stop and treat the hot spots his expensive new boots were warning him about. This done, we pushed on. The crew were agitating for their tea, so a spot was found with a view and we set about feeding our faces. The view was dramatic. Those of you who have not been to Jonkershoek must take the chance when Mervyn takes the Club there in April. The mountains are spectacular. The path took us past streams flowing down the mountain. Beautiful trees abound in these kloofs. The fynbos was really magnificent. Lunch was taken alongside one of these streams. All too soon we were on our way again. The turn off from the contour path was found and the long descent to the floor of the valley started.

Back at the cars we noticed that rain had begun to fall across the valley on the high mountain slopes. Tea and koek at the delightful Jonkershoek tearoom brought an end to a very good hike. Not too severe, just a very good day in the mountains.

By the way, Geoff B., the white flower we saw was not an Orchid. It was a White Harveya. Harveya Capensis. A parasitic herb known as an Inkblom because it turns black when dried or pressed.

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Saturday 28 June - Saturday 19 July 2003 (School Holidays)

The tourist brochures bill Malawi as 'THE WARM HEART OF AFRICA'
and the scenery is stunning. Malawians seem to be among the friendliest anywhere. This tiny country has so much to offer, from palm-lined lake shore to an airy escarpment viewpoint, busy marketplace to remote wilderness, traditional fishing village to popular beaches, little bee-eater to African fish eagles. The options are endless.I am still working on an itinerary but this will be a guide only and flexible.

Here are some of the options :-

  • MOUNT MULANJE - 3001m. rising steeply from the undulating plain of the highlands, surrounded by the escarpment and the near-vertical cliffs of bare rock. Hike the 4-day Mulanje Massif Traverse, staying in colonial-style huts.
  • BLANTYRE, visit the Carlsberg Brewery and 1891 missionary church.
  • ZOMBA, the vibrant market and shopping area against the beautiful Zomba Plateau.
  • LIWONDE NATIONAL PARK, Malawi's premier park situated on the scenic Shire River, an excellent place for spotting elephants from a boat, excellent bird-watching.
  • ILALA BOAT TRIP on Lake Malawi which includes Chizumulu and Likoma Islands, the latter crowned by a large and incongruous cathedral.
  • NKHATA BAY, a busy lakeside town with a Caribbean feel, lively market, scuba diving.
  • SENGA BAY, hippo pools, handcraft stalls, water sports.
  • CAPE MACLEAR, longtime backpacker favourite with a village feel, go diving, snorkelling and boating, follow the underwater trail or chill out.

COST : Budget (of course), the Lonely Planet estimates between $5 to $10 per day (17-01-03 R8.70 = US$1), excluding getting there. By bus R1800, by plane from Cape Town to Blantyre SAA R4,242.

CONTACT Karen if you are interested - 072 444 3914.

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Friday 7 February - Sunday 9 February 2003

Present : Peter P., Brian and Sue Ford, Tony B., Penny ; Geoff B., Karen Cousins, Marie-Paul, Mervyn, James and Margie.

We all gathered at the forestry station on the Friday evening, having traversed the beautiful, quite awesome Dasklip Pass which is off the gravel road to Cardouw some 9kms. away. We had been blessed with rain in Cape Town that morning and the countryside along the N7, although dry and dusty, looked so beautiful with its golden bales of wheat, green mealies, potatoes, pumpkins and other crops. Passing Piketberg, then to Porterville, we saw dozens of steppe buzzards perched proudly on the telephone lines and even the odd grey heron and pelican en route.

Poor Mervyn and his party who arrived much later on in the evening, managed to get a puncture, fortunately however at our final destination and not up the Pass - quite hairy in the dark being some 19kms. long and one rarely got out of 2nd gear going up and back down 2 days later, due to its steepness. It must have been quite something to build it all those years ago.

We had our dinners either cold, a snack or heated up in our stoves, no fires allowed here of course as it is a Wilderness area. Peter and Tony elected to sleep in the barn near the parking spot, the others in tents or - as in my and James's case, we had the luxury of sleeping on mattresses in Gigi, his beautiful French bird … oops, I mean van.

Peter P. called for an early start, 07h00 to be exact and we made it by 07h20. James and I were probably the culprits for this delay, having been in total chaos the previous night desperately trying to pack and re-pack empty rucksacks transferred from the previously tidily packed lugs accommodating ALL our camping gear as well. A good tip - pack your rucksack BEFORE you leave Cape Town and have your dinner/breakfast food, clothing and toiletries totally separate which then negates what to take, what not to take, etc. Too much choice (and food) means less time as we learnt later on. I forgot the medical kit and carried enough pasta to last us a week, let alone a day or two! You'd think I'd just started hiking, not the fact I've been doing it for over 30 years! (But I DID remember the wine, beer and other essentials …).

To quote Jaynee Levy "This is an extremely rugged region, lush with montane fynbos flowers adapted to the leached, acidic soil of the flats (suurvlakte); warm in summer and cold in winter, lacking in readily observable wildlife except baboons, klipspringers, snakes, sunbirds and predatory birds, and still satisfyingly wild. It is similar in nature to the Cedarberg, but greener and arguably more beautiful." Well the last word doesn't do it justice, it was more than beautiful, it was absolutely gorgeous.

Peter called for a much needed lunchbreak at one of the old, long since abandoned farmsteads under the only oak trees for miles around, looking quite out of place (but so welcome!) amidst the surrounding countryside.
Joy of joys, our 2nd swim of the day as the Fords cleverly found the Kliphuis River nearby, the first time sighted by anyone having done the trail previously.

I would say I speak for all 11 of us when I say it was the BEST swim of my life, we were hot, tired and bothered but much recovered after these miracle swims. 4 that day in total, all so very welcome. In fact without the swims the trail - about 16kms. each day, would have been unbearable. For our slackness we were rewarded by a long, long - oh, so long - climb on the Jeep track itself. Getting to the top got me my first blister, going down the other side (aaagh!) earned me my second. It was really quite tough going with full packs and the sun popping in and out of the clouds. Needless to say the view was quite spectacular and we could see the foresty station where we had started far way back behind us.

We eventually got over and down to the "shelter" - some shelter, this, consisting of nothing more than a really derelict old house with concrete floors covered in bird excretia, dust and reeds. The river nearby was an absolute Godsend and we all so enjoyed our evening's wash. In fact only 6 of us elected to sleep indoors, more particularly when we found a HUGE Bobbian spider resting ever so nicely up in the beams of the room where James, I and Tony B. were. (Despite Tony's efforts the spider refused to budge further and we just hoped it wasn't going to fall on us in the night!). We enjoyed the usual wonderful banter whilst enjoying supper (again no fires) remembering the day's events. This is our Club at its best, we find out just exactly how tough/sore/hard/cold/hot/warm/tired/weary/exhausted we all were at various times of the day. Karen's clip to Peter P. "But I thought you weren't drinking anymore". Peter P. back to Karen "And I'm not drinking any less!" brought the house down. We all went to bed at 08h00 can you believe it! The stars out there in the back of beyond were incredibly beautiful, it was hard tearing yourself away and just getting into your sleeping bag. The night was chilly and none of us slept very well, it was a long night.

We did better next morning, leaving at 07h10 having been woken up by oh-so-cheerful (as always) Brian but we could have killed him at the same time! We walked back from Perdevlei (the shelter) along a magnificent valley, what a pleasure to walk flat for about 7/8 kms. or so before the gruelling slog of climbing began. Not as many swims today - 2 in total, the first one of which James and I totally missed out on and went right instead of left, having spotted Peter P's orange t-shirt. Either everyone was dumbstruck or not on speaking terms (and for once I must have been quiet!) as a search party was sent out for us and we, in turn, thought what a lick the others must have been going at, no doubt to watch the cricket back in Cape Town! We eventually were caught up by the others at the 2nd swim - thank heavens - having caused the Fords to hike an 5 extra kms. in the hot, hot sun. It's at times like these when you realize what wonderful people the TCSA members are. James and I would officially once again like to extend our apologies and sincere appreciation to all members most particularly the Fords, Geoffrey and Marie-Paul - who were with us and for partaking in the - what turned out to be - wild goose chase. THANK YOU VERY MUCH, guys!

Most of us enjoyed 2, even 3 swims at this last spot in the Grootkliphuis river. The sun really burnt through our clothes, the shade was non-existant, our food was greasy and warm but… the company was great, as always!

I don't think any of us didn't "suffer" in some way, albeit it Penny with her broken finger, me with my now 4 blisters, James with his hotspot, Peter P. with his vrot boots - if some part of your body wasn't sore, then the sun really got you as well. Water was unavailable after this last stop and we reckoned between us we had drunk about 10 litres alone that day!

But - thanks to our great hike leader - we all made it back safely to the cars. Some stayed behind to give themselves a cooling down session with the hosenear the barn, the others hoofed it straight back to Cape Town.

As always, James and I discussed how lucky we are to belong to a Club with such interesting members and integral hike leaders who are prepared to give up so much of their time to recce and explore such amazing places allowing us such a grand weekend. Thanks again, Peter P!

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Sunday 23 February 2003

This report comes to you via e-mail from New Zealand. Those present on 23/02/03 : Tony Burton (some of the time!), Deborah, Robin, Victoria, Juliet, Toni, Karen C., Karen W., Peter P., Peter W.

"Can you help me with my condom?"
"It feels slimy!"
"My plug came out."

No, it's not Kenilworth Main Road, it's the magnificent Kogelberg Nature Reserve. They came with condom-covered lilo's, an inner tube and even a boogie board.

Question : Why is it that wind always blows up a river?

Peter P. didn't even brave the roaring rapids or float down the long stretches of rippled pools, his excuse - "I couldn't get hold of a lilo." I wonder! Climbing into the water from the sandy beach, may of us were tempted to join him and continue enjoying the incredibly rich flora as he walked along the path running parallel to the river.

After the first long stretch he saw a hat floating towards him, apparently this belonged to Victoria. Her plug had come out and her screams for help had fallen on deaf ears. She obviously has her parents' genes because she swam to where Peter P. stood. We all congregated at this narrow stretch of river. "I've just done the Wit Els …", exclaimed Juliet, no one understanding what this meant.

In his usual quiet way Peter W. also climbed out. After extricating himself from a crack, Tony was offered the proper 'tool' for the job and gave up his 'beach' equipment. That left 6.

Another long pool with geese skimming the surface and waterblommetjies like flecks of snow. Tony climbed out, "my plug came out", he exclaimed. Not long after Robin also gave up leaving the four gals! Oh dear, they don't make TCSA men like they did in the olden days!

A few more rapids and having to poterage over a couple of bouldery sections, Toni's arms gave up. That left the two Karen's and Deborah. Meanwhile, the "wussies" walked along the path only to stop at the tricky spots, probably hoping for a capsize!

Returning to Cape Town along the coastal road we stopped for tea and beer accompanied by the most enormous, friendly cat - 'Boykie." As for Karen C., Karen W. and Deborah, they were last seen paddling south in the direction of New Zealand.

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I was out for a walk the other day and I was struck by an odd thing. It was a glorious day - as good as a day can get, and very probably the last of its type that we shall see for many a long wintry month - yet only 6 of us turned up for the hike up Little Lions head. O>K>, so it was a Wednesday evening but we started at 18h00 so you could have got there from work with a bit of planning.

Karen did and she works further from Hout Bay than any of you. The same thing happened the previous Wednesday when only 4 turned up for Tony's walk up Llandudno corner. I am beginning to think that maybe we should scrap the Wednesday evening hikes. LET US KNOW HOW YOU ALL FEEL ABOUT THIS.

Another thing you might think about is the once-a-month conservation hack, organized by Graham Pietersen. He is lucky if 2 of you turn up. Really people, a little support is all we are asking for. Life can't be all a bowl of cherries, even cherries have pits. A slight inconvenience will not really spoil the rest of your life. Who knows, you might even enjoy yourself if you got off your butt and helped Graham and supported the hike leaders.
The AGM is just around the corner. Put on your thinking caps and let the new Committee know what you want. It's YOUR club, if you don't communicate your wants and your dislikes, no one will know what these are.

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To be held at the Enviro Centre at 19h30.

The following positions are up for re-election :-


Members, please be made aware of the fact that no proposals from the floor for Honorary Life membership will be accepted during our AGM.

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DID YOU KNOW? (Article by PETER P.)

It was Culpepper, who wrote : "This I am sure, Cabbages are extreme windy, whether you take them as meat or as medicine, yea, as windy meat as can be eaten, unless you eat bagpipes or bellows.: Despite this, the humble Cabbage is today highly thought of by nutritionists. It is a good source of Vitamen C IF eaten raw. Folic acid and Vitamen A are also present. Cabbage is lower in kilojoules than almost every other vegetable. It is a member of the cruciferous group of vegetables which are considered to be important protection against cancer, due to their high fibre, vitamins C and A content. Red cabbage is red because of a water soluble red pigment known as anthrocyanin. In the raw state it is purple and unless acid, in the form of vinegar or a sour apple, is added during cooking when the pigment changes to an unappetising blue.

If you have anything to contribute to the newsletter,
please email our editor. James would love to hear from you.

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