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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 brochure.

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 : monteco@attglobal.net 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,
JAMES


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 and lan

SUMMARY

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 flatten Everest!

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, Tony.

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.

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FOUR HIKES
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 Somerset West.
However, I think we enjoyed ourselves more than other members who got lost on the Wemmershoek traverse.

HIKE NO. 2 - FRUSTRATION GORGE.
LEADER: DERRICK
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
LEADER: DERRICK
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 of it.

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.

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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.

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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 restricted hike.

GEOFF B. and PETER P.

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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!

PETER P.

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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 friend.
CARNUS.

This is not always true or possible for hike leaders.
TONY BURTON

FORTHCOMING TRAIILS

OORLOGSKLOOF ... 30/8/2003 - 3/9/2003 - Leader Tony Bunon
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.

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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 tike note!

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 Tony Burton.

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 available soon.

TONY BURTON

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CAVEMAN OVERHANG
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.

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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 beyond.

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.

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ERICAS
"Bell and cup and trumpet /Tiny Bowl and Jar /With lobes bent back or upright
Or spreading like a Star (Author Unknown)

THE RIVER
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 its way.

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

TONY BURTON

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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 world” meant

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

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