August 2003 Newsletter
Greetings from your Editor!
Dear Fellow Members,
I am sorry to say that Margie and I have not been out on many hikes
recently and the reason is that we are upgrading Margie's lovely home
in Devil's Peak. We are scraping, sanding, chipping, chiseling,
painting and varnishing whilst having a lot of fun working hard
together. The hiking ski stick can be used for other things like
chasing me to keep working!
However we were lucky enough to get away over the
last long weekend to MontEco, near Montagu as this had been planned,
discussed and booked many months previously. We were to go camping to
the MontEco Nature Reserve with friends as they know the owners Tom and
Frik (The Trails Club have enjoyed outings there in the past couple of
years). Unfortunately as the time drew nearer they were unable to
accompany us. Margie and I duly set off and of course had to stop at a
couple of wineries on the way - we couldn't possibly miss buying some
bargain priced wines direct, now could we??? We went via Montagu and
saw where the floods had been and where the approaches to the bridges
had been washed away. The whole thing must have been quite something to
behold, especially from the height and went of the debris that
remained. It was all very well driving where the road had been
repaired, etc., but then not so good when we arrived at a river where
the low level bridge had been washed away with a very steep descent
down the bank and then a drive through the river over the rocks. Well I
can say that my little Citroen van, Gigi, that we were in, is NOT built
for the off-road, she prefers nice flat tarred suburban roads and
whilst equipped to carry up to 800 kgs, she is quite rigid, too. We
decided to drive gingerly down the bank and about half way down ended
up with the front right hand wheel having slid into soft mud and being
rigid, having the left hand front wheel off the road and turning freely
when I tried to move her. We were well and truly stuck in the mud and
we wondered whether or not to haul out the tent table and chairs and
just spend the weekend there or to extricate ourselves and risk driving
through the river and up the opposite bank- We decided oil it would be
much more pleasant in MontEco than there and began to jack up the right
hand front. I removed the large rock that the tyre had lodged itself
against and with the help of a young fellow and his father, on holiday
further back along the road, we managed to get Gigi unstuck. Driving
through the river wasn't too bad and with lots of revving and skidding
went through the soft sand on the opposite bank. Needless to say, we
drove back to Cape Town via Touws River - what's another hour just so
that we could miss out on that whole performance again on the way back!
MontEco can be highly recommended as a huge amount
of thought and love has gone into this reserve. It caters mainly for 4
X 4 Trails but has a couple of delightful hiking trails - Fossil Ridge
(which we did) and Botterboomkloof (which we did part of as well). The
reserve itself is about 6400 hectares in extent or 64 km2. It is also
popular with mountain bikers and offers true choice whatever your
preference is, if even just to enjoy the scenery and relax. We even
ended up watching - of all places to see it - rugby with South Africa
getting beaten by England 28-19! It boasts a number of wildlife
mammals, rock art, bird life, selected plants - the region itself is
classified as and semi-desert . We found it quite spectacular and
winter is an ideal time to hike - warm during the day though it was
down to a chilly 3ºC at night. On both nights the stars were an
absolute visual delight and one could also identify the stars from the
Night-Sky info from the S.A. Astronomical Observatory page in the
Visitors can either camp or stay in one of four
self-catering cottages or even enjoy all-inclusive rates including all
meals and refreshments, guided excursions and guided hikes. Their eco
adventure trails cover more than 90 km. All trails are maintained by
the owners themselves. The name MontEco we learnt from the very
professional, informative and quite extensive brochure presented to us
on arrival was formed by combining the "Mont" in Montagu and the "Eco"
in Ecotourism - and is pronounced as such.
We stayed in No. 1 campsite, there being about 7
sites in total, each site easily accommodating 2 cars. Payment is per
person per night at R40 (each for camping, R80 is the vehicle entry
fee. An extremely nice lapa for braaing with adjoining ablution block
also caters for campers. Firewood can also be obtained from the
reception desk as well as caps, t-shirts, badges and windscreen
stickers, etc. Should any member want more information about this
remarkable Nature Reserve their e-mail address is :
firstname.lastname@example.org or free call 0800 628 873.
So dear fellow members, in closing, please
remember to send in your articles. I would welcome any ideas you may
have to improve your newsletter and I look forward to seeing you all
back on a mountain in the not-too-distant future.
Cheers and God Bless,
THE 'LOGISTICS TRAIL'- FRANSCHHOEK - DU
TOIT'S KLOOF TRAVERSE
10 - 11 MAY 2003
HIKE LEADER & REPORTER: IAN COWBURN; CO-LEADER: MERVYN HENDERSON
TEAM: Marie-Paule, Karen C., Di de Villiers, Vera Scott, Paul Tyler,
Paul (T) Taylor" Tony (as in Burton), Derrick R., Geoffrey B., Mervyn
Mist, more mist - in fact, mist everywhere.
Rain, more rain - even torrential rain.
Stinging hail like buck shot - ow!
Views - stunning mist - one or two momentary breaks in the mist –
like ”Did you see that! I think it was a sheer wall with the
valley below - but I can't be sure".
A great team, which pulled together under adverse conditions - would
A BED-TIME STORY
"What! 06hl5 at the Environment Centre - is that
am or pm?" was the frequent response. An early start was called for to
cope with the transport arrangements - the LOGISTICAL problem. But come
06h15 Saturday, all were assembled and off we set for Paarl to meet our
16-seater taxi (that seats 32!). Together we all drove to du Toit's
Kloof hut of the Mountain Club where we left the cars for our return
home. Packs were soon transferred and off we set for Franschhoek Pass.
All was fine provided no one tried to breathe, far less talk. Whitie,
our driver, shook hands all round as he departed - perhaps he knew
something we didn’t!
After welcoming the group (and the 'not the Club's
responsibility' bit), we heaved up our packs. At this point Tony said
"I have a problem" So down we put our packs - our first stop. A mere
thread held one shoulder strap to his backpack. Ian took a look and a
la Naukluft style (boots previously) decided wire would do the trick.
Paul T. suitably re-fashioned a nearby wire 'structure' and with Tony's
Leatherman, the strap was repaired in no time. Spare wire was packed as
a precaution but not needed. Hopefully it won't be used on you next,
The bad weather of the week had improved and all
seemed promising, but at the lookout spot where we stopped for a 2nd
breakfast it was very windy. Soon cloud formed and near the slopes of
Perdekop, where we branched off, we found a sheltered lunch spot - the
last for a long time. On the ridge the rain started and soon thereafter
stinging hail hit us. We heard cries from the valley opposite and a
bedraggled sports runner appeared out of the mist to ask where he and
his team were. Derrick gave them directions and on we braved the rain
and light winds as we followed the ridge. Another bunch of sports
runners emerged out of the mist but they seemed to know where they were
headed. The path soon ended and we were on our ownl The lack of cairns
didn't help and in the mist we could not find the knife-edge ridge
crossing to Wemmershoek Peak-vital to continuing. Geoff finally jumped
for joy when he found a cairn which led us to the ridge. Having crossed
the ridge, we were on the slopes of Wemmershoek Peak but could not
summit and continue down the back valley due to heavy mist. Spirits
were low and all feeling chilled to the bone, so we agreed to camp
lower down near a water source at a chilly 1500 m in altitude. The rain
stopped while we erected tents, then showed us what it could do - in
fact for the whole night it belted down. The wind tried its best to
flatten the tents, but only succeeded in blowing Paul and Vera's
flysheet away, so they had a miserable night.
Sunday morning dawned to a lull in the wind mist
swirled around the tents so we stayed put. At 09h00 we decided to
retreat and we packed up. Mervyn had planted his spade in a mole-heap
and as he had packed his backpack, one by one we all reminded Mervyn of
his spade. He said he knew. Finally it was put to use and then all of
us understood why!
Retreating was difficult in the heavy mist and the
high winds made it difficult to communicate - whistling was
ineffective. But the team was superb in pointing out familiar rocks,
etc., to confirm we were going the right way. Without visibility we
could not take bearings but only confirm by compass our approximate
position and direction. It seemed hours before we picked up the path
again - true there was much relief, but not for long as the mist got
the better of us and we lost the path. As we hunted around, a cairn
appeared out of the mist and we followed the path but in the wrong
direction until Karen and Derrick simultaneously twigged that the wind
was on our wrong side, so turning 180 degrees, we soon picked up the
main path from Perdekop.
Thank goodness for cell phones, for as soon as we
picked up reception, contact was made with the taxi man, Whitie. He met
us on time - smiling from ear to ear at the thought of another good
fare - possibly anticipated the day before.
We will be back to conquer this traverse and to
see the breath-taking views, which were lost in the mist.
To the top
HIKE NO. I - HELDERBERG.
LEADER: RORY. 11 MAY 2003
Six of us, 4 members and 2 young visitors, met me
at the Enviro Centre and proceeded to Somerset West to meet 2½
others. All of us then hiked up those terrible jeep tracks till we
reached the gorge Rory took us up. The paths were very slippery but we
nevertheless went up and up to the shoulder separating the Dome from
West Peak. There was no rain but a very cold wind was in evidence. A
sheltered spot was sought for lunch before continuing on to West Peak.
What is it about the Helderberg? Every time I go
there a wrong turn is taken when there is a choice given. Anyway, we
took a wrong turn and ended up hiking for much longer than we counted
on. Rory even took a wrong turn when we tried to find our way out of
However, I think we enjoyed ourselves more than other members who got
lost on the Wemmershoek traverse.
HIKE NO. 2 - FRUSTRATION GORGE.
18 MAY 2003.
I know why this is called Frustration Gorge. It
got its name because of the difficulty one has of finding the way up.
There can be more beautiful place in the whole of this beautiful
Peninsula we live on. It is a pity more of us could not visit it. 12 of
us were privileged to be there. Thank you, Derrick, for arranging it.
Once on top we were taken through a twisting cave
to the top of Grootkop for lunch Then down to the dams and Disa Gorge
to the finish
HIKE NO. 3 - SILVERMINE PANORAMA ROUTE
24 MAY 2003.
Well now, what can I say? Derrick does it again.
Panorama says it all. The views of Noordhoek, Hout Bay, etc., etc., are
breathtaking on this route. The route itself is interesting in that
there is a little scrambling and a little exposure thrown in.
I could do this route once a month mid never tire
HIKE NO. 4 - TRANQUI]LITY CRACKS
LEADER - MARIE-PAULE.
25 MAY 2003
The day broke and all one could see was clouds.
Anyway, we started up the contour path from Camps Bay. We got to the
bottom of Corridor Ravine and stopped for tea. It turned into a long
tea break. You see, there were a few of the survivors of the
Wemmershoek Traverse with us and when they saw the wind and rain they
were reluctant to be brave again I am glad to see that they learned
from their mistakes. So we all turned around and went back the way we
had come and got thoroughly wet before we reached the cars.
To the top
VISIT TO ESKOM PALMIET POWER STATION
7 MAY 2003
REPORTER: TOMMY HISCOCK:
PRESENT: IAN, EUSTACE, ANNE, YVONNE, JUDY, DERRECK A.
After travelling as far as Sir Lowry's Pass in
thick rnist, we emerged at the Palmiet Visitors' Centre in bright
sunshine to begin our tour of the Power Station.
Our guide (Lisle) was very knowledgeable and
enthusiastic and made full use of the state-of-the-art facilities to
show us a slick presentation on the construction of the pump station
and the story behind the electricity that powers our households. Being
situated in South Africa’s first Biosphere Reserve, particular
attention was paid to conserving the unique fynbos environment and the
story behind this project was also presented to us. After a
complimentary cup of tea or coffee we travelled a short distance via
Rockview Dam to the Power Station on the banks of the Palmiet River to
view the 25-story deep machine shafts, the hi-tech control room and the
fynbos Rehab. Centres. It was a rewarding and informative morning and
we then went down to Gordon's Bay to enjoy a picnic lunch on an almost
deserted beach. A stroll along the beach front to the harbour completed
a most pleasant outing.
To the top
A WORD ABOUT BOOKING
There has been some controversy of late about
phoning a leader to book a place on a hike or a trail when that leader
has requested a booking. Some hikes are permit hikes so only 12 people
can go. Trails have to be booked and paid for in advance. No one knows
how popular a trail is going to be so the leader books for the number
he feels will come on that hike. Most trails only allow 12 people at
any one time. So you see it is necessary for the leader to request
booking. For the sake of fairness, leaders generally state a booking
start date on the schedule each member has. He is supposed to take the
bookings strictly on a first come first in basis. He should not pick
and choose his favourites if they were not in the first 12. If the
schedule states that booking opens on say, 1 May, don't phone the
leader at one minute past midnight you won't be popular. Most people
are awake by 07h00, phone at that time. I think that we should make it
a rule that anyone phoning before 07h00 should be requested to phone
again. If you are away on the day booking opens and cannot phone, ask a
friend to book for you.
If we all members and leaders, stick to these few
rules no one should be disappointed if you did not get on to a
GEOFF B. and PETER P.
To the top
TONY'S KALK BAY SURPRISE - 29 JUNE 2003
It was another perfect day in Cape Town 14
expectant hikers met at the end of Boyes Drive to share in Tony's
Surprise Walk. We started off along the path to Trappies Kop and
carried onto the turn off to the little rock scramble to Cave Peak.
Everyone enjoyed this and we stopped for a breather and tea on the top.
From here we hiked across past Boomslang etc., to Echo Valley. Tony led
us down Echo Valley all the while looking up at Ridge Peak searching
for some thing. He seemed to find what he was looking for and turned
off into the bush and stood, posed on a rock, for some minutes, gazing
into the void. He beckoned for us to follow him. "Come on it's
alright” he said. I know he is determined to get back his
bushwhaking record from me. I don't know whether he succeeded but he
made a valiant try. His bushwhack was longer than mine but he still has
to find thicker bush to get through. After another bit of scrambling we
reached the top of Ridge Peak for lunch down Spes Bona Valley we went.
Half way down Tony asked his troops if they wanted to go up Kalk Bay
Mountain. There was a resounding "NO!" so we made our way down to the
cars and a few of us to the Brass Bell. A very enjoyable hike. We are
still looking for the Chimney you promised, Tony!
To the top
Don't walk in front of me / I may not follow /
Don't walk behind me I may not lead / Walk beside me and just be my
This is not always true or possible for hike
OORLOGSKLOOF ... 30/8/2003 - 3/9/2003 - Leader
CAPE POINT TRAIL ... 13/9t2OO2 - 14/9t2003 - Leader Peter Petropulos
CEDERBERG ... 20/9/2003 - 24/9t2003 – Leader Mervyn Henderson
KAGGA KAMMA ... October dates to be announced. Leader Mervyn Henderson.
GROOTWNTERHOEK ... 7/11/2003 - 9/11/2003 - leader Peter Petropulos.
WHALE TRAIL ... 7/2/2004 - 12/2/2004 - Leader TBA.
To the top
EVENTS TO LOOK FORWARD TO:-
Get your diaries out get onto the telephone and
book now with Tony Burton at home 701 5021 on cell 082 6583056. If you
snooze, you lose, 1st come, 1st served. Don't miss out so read on and
Friday 18 July - WINE TASTING EVENING
19h00 at the Environment Centre. Mike Duggan from Wine Concepts will
give us a talk on what to look for and how to taste good wine. Pit your
skill at tasting and see if you can win a prize. Excellent cheeses will
be available from 'Got-Stuffed'. This is a fun evening at only R40,00
per head. Bring a plate of good snacks with you. Phone Tony to book.
Thursday 31 Julv l7h00 – 10h30 -
KARRIMOR MID-WINTER PROMOTION
At Long Street Cape Town, 2 blocks from the Swimming Bath. Come along
to this cocktail evening and enjoy reduced prices on a sale and meet
members of the Ramblers Hiking Club as well.
Saturday 30 August - Wednesday 3
September- OORLOGSKLOOF TRAIL
Don't lose out on this trail which I consider to be one of the best 10
trails in South Africa. This hike has everything including tents
already erected ready to sleep in. Surprises around every comer.
Bookings have been made for 3 day hikes from a base camp and also for a
3 day trail. Booking is limited on a 1st come, 1st paid, basis so phone
Saturday 25 October - VISIT KLIENPLASIE in
WORCESTER and walk in the KAROO WORCESTER PARK
Take a trip with South African History and step into the past and see
in real life how our ancestors lived and made soap, candles and
clothing and witblitz! Afterwards visit the Karoo Worcester Gardens and
enjoy a walk appreciating local flora.
Saturday 11 October 11h00 PLANT PROTECTION
INSTITUTE IN STELLENBOSCH
Visit this fascinating source of floral information. More details
To the top
22 JUNE 2003
REPORTER - PETER P.
What can one say? Derrick does it again! This one
was even better than Frustration Gorge! Mary Warner, Barbara Mears,
Edwina Lovell Ray Green and I gathered on a magnificent morning a
Constantia parking area to meet Derrick. We waited for 5 minutes or so
for stragglers and could not understand why there weren't any.
The beginning of this outstanding route is rather
mundane, up Constantia Comer steps to Eagle's Nest, turn off and on to
the path to Belle Ombre. This we have all done many times. Derrick had
a surprise, however. He led us off the well-known path around to the
left to a scramble leading to Turret Gully and then up to tea at Belle
Ombre. The views across Orange Kloof to Hout Bay were exceptional.
After tea we headed to The Camel and Derrick had another surprise. He
now led us to left around Klaasenkop to another scramble so that we
approached De Villiers dam from the bottom. The concrete road was
reached and we walked past the next 2 dams to another faint track
leading off to the left towards Orange Face and the Wynberg Cracks.
Lunch was called.
Now we started the real scramble. We went through
a hole in the rock to reach a slippery descent to the rock face of
Orange Face. A series of scrambles through passages, over rocks, along
ledges to the Cave Man's Overhang, through which one has to crawl. On
to the Hole-in-the-Wall area. Here there was nearly a mutiny among the
troops when Derrick announced that there was no more scrambling The
troops threatened to go and do it all over again
Thank you, Derick, and please keep on surprising
us with these superb new routes. I, for one, know the amount of
recce-ing that goes into them.
To the top
THE P.O.W. CROSS HIKE THAT WASN'T THE
P.O.W. CROSS HIKE
1 May 2003
HIKE LFADER - IAN COWBURN
REPORTER: PAUL TAYLOR
PRESENT: Ian, Marjolein, Marie-Paule, Andre, Gezine, Eustace, Paul,
Conrad, Jenny, Paul and Vera, Philip.
Having parked our cars on the du Toit's Kloof Pass
Road, we set off reasonably early following a well-defined path up
Miaspoort. This was to be one of those glorious autumn days, which are
absolutely perfect for hiking - not too hot not too cold. The path soon
crossed the river and started to ascend steeply surrounded on either
side by towering rock faces. A 500-metre height gain brought us up to
the Saddle for a welcome tea break with wonderful views of Paarl and
After tea we continued with our ascent up a less
steep path enjoying the warmth of the autumn sun, having climbed mostly
in the shade before tea. Another height gain of about 275 metres
brought us to Huguenot Peak at 1315 metres above sea level - our high
point for the day. We dropped down a few metres off the peak to the
site of the POW cross and imagine our surprise on finding no POW cross
at all! The cross was a large aluminium structure erected in memory of
the more than 500 Italian POW's who were involved in the construction
of the pass just after the Second World War.
This site offers panoramic views of distant peaks
all round prompting our hike leader to declare a very leisurely lunch.
During lunch there was much speculation as to what could have happened
to the cross with questions posed like, "Surely the vagrants didn't
climb all the way up HERE and steal it for scrap metal?' Others were
content to spend their time trying to identify distant peaks like
Piketburg and so on.
Begrudgingly we left our lunch spot and made our
way down the same route. The descent was quick and we soon found
ourselves in the shade of the indigenous trees at the river crossing -
probably remnants from the original Hawequas State Forest. Here we
spent some time in the refreshing shade, once more reluctant to head
for the cars.
And now the truth behind the missing cross! To the
best of my knowledge, the cross was blown down in adverse weather and
has been removed for safekeeping until a more suitable, less exposed
site can be found to erect it. Thank you, Ian for an enjoyable and very
well led hike.
To the top
"Bell and cup and trumpet /Tiny Bowl and Jar /With lobes bent back or
Or spreading like a Star (Author Unknown)
At its source the river flows with such power it obviously sweeps away
everything in its endeavour to be released. It is overpowering in its
destiny and nothing can stop it thrusting its course. Nothing gets in
Then it finds itself in a giant whirlpool
suctioning into a vortex and then spouts out into a raging, seething,
forceful cauldron of angry water, failing, leaping, spouting in mass of
white unrelenting spray, a cascade of unleashed fury, falling and
falling until it reaches an endlessly deep pool.
When the sky is cloudy and grey the pool is black
and foreboding, uninviting and unfriendly but when the sun shines on
the river, it suddenly turns friendly and beautiful and one can tell
the depth of its warmth
To the top
THE SORRY STATE OF THE WORLD
Last month, a worldwide survey was conducted by
the U.N. The only question asked was:
"Would you please give your honest opinion about the solutions to the
food shortage in the rest of the world?'
The survey was a huge failure because
*In Africa they didn't know what "food" meant.
*In Eastern Europe they didn't know what "honest" meant
*In Western Europe they didn't know what "shortage" meant.
*In China they didn't know what "opinion' meant
*In the Middle East they didn't know what "solution" meant
*In South America they didn't know what "please" meant.
*And, in the US, they didn’t know what “the rest of the
If you have anything to contribute
to the newsletter,
please email our editor.
James would love to hear from you.
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