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September 2003 Newsletter

Dear Fellow Members,

Greetings from your Editor! I hope that you have had a good time over the last couple of months. I am sure that, although we have all wished and prayed for rain, some hikes (and some renovating) must have been disrupted because of it! Anyway, it is wonderful to have had so much rain over the period and to see the white stripes down the side of Table Mountain where the streams are flowing.

It was good for us in this year to be able to gaze upon Mars which was very bright in the night sky being closest to Earth for many, many years - +/- 60,000 in fact. Our next siting is due in +/- 160,000 years! The joke that comes to mind was when one child asked his brother “Have you seen Mars?” His brother replied “Yes, but what is wrong with Pa’s?” (Yes, I have also seen Pa’s!).

The Sealand Express has been of interest and a big worry stuck on the sand at Milnerton especially seeing that they cannot seem to be able to budge it – notwithstanding many tugs and spring tides, etc. Let’s just hope that they succeed soon.

I hope that you all have good hikes and that the sun shines while you walk. Margie and I look forward to being back with you on a mountain somewhere – the renovations are coming along well.

Cheers and God Bless,
JAMES

THREE SISTERS, KLEINMOND – SUNDAY 8 JUNE 2003
LEADER – MERVYN HENDERSON
REPORTER – LORETTA HENRY

Not even inclement weather could keep these adventure addicts from a hike. An early start from Cape Town to Kleinmond was well worth getting out of a warm bed for. The serene drive as one leaves home so early in the morning is refreshing and relaxing with the looming mountains ahead; a gentle reminder of what is still to come! The hike started at 10am in 4th Avenue and as Claude and I had started some time earlier, we had the advantage of finding a view spot at the saddle of Jean’s Hill. From here we enjoyed the expanding panoramic views, the surrounding mountains, and blue oceans. The sky overhead at that time looked somewhat ominous with a definite promise of rain ahead! After meeting with the group, we gradually began the ascent to Sister No. 1. This magnificent mountain range as seen from the R44 in the comfort of your seat in a motor car is eye-catching – but when the shoe is on the other foot – (or shall I say – hiking boot) – then we have a story to tell!

Sister No. 1 proved to be quite challenging, very steep, but still very pleasant as one is still capable of standing upright to take a breath and catch a glimpse of the view. As Claude and I trudged wearily on, we envied the front walkers who seemed to be tackling the steep gradient with relative ease. Mervyn called for a tea break in a rocky nook at the neck of Sister N. 1 What a relief I thought! – I am finished! – my punishment for being unfit! Our reward – a view unparalleled! Using a hiker’s poetic licence, I can only describe the following scene as follows – the group ahead of me looked as if they were hitching a ride on the back of the world’s oldest form of transportation – the camel! Nose to the ground and in true sniffer-dog style, I plodded wearily on. Tony and Geoff, the sweepers, kept me company and from falling off the camel’s back. Yet one is always aware of the startling beauty of the sloping Paardeberg Mountains on the right running parallel to the coastline, with its sheer cliffs and deep shady gorges. Up and up we went, our stride becoming easier with enjoyment. The broadening horizon over Kleinmond to Hermanus looming like a huge portrait offered us glorious sights whilst the grey ominous sky overhead threatened to release its heavy watery burden.

Although this particular hike from a distance looks like 3 huge peaks – this is an illusion as I soon discovered - there are several crevices and interesting rocky hills to negotiate which breaks the sheerness of this hike. The dreaded rain had approached, on with raincoats, beanies and long pants, as the grey mist slowly wrapped itself around the ledges and higher peaks of the surrounding mountains – nature once again delightfully displayed its secrets by shadowing and hiding the trails head.

With the last hump ahead and fully energised, we finally approached the highest peak. Standing next to the beacon, a 360 degree view is displayed at your feet for miles around. Looking down at the knife edge of the peaks below, they appeared like a fragile thread spun along the ridges until breaking point just before disappearing into the valley below. Overlooking the Palmiet River one sees a thick black slithering coiled, almost snake-like mass of water plunging into the Kleinmond Lagoon! The looming Hermanus mountains in the distance partly covered by thick cloud, the Kleinmond Lagoon running into odd-shaped marshes surrounded by thick indigenous undergrowth all contributed to our glorious reward – all our hard work definitely not in vain. Lunch was a quick affair as the approaching rain was again lying heavily in the arms of billowing clouds overhead. The final descent – much easier and equally as delightful. A footpath ascending towards the Highlands trail to the right was spotted through a veil of enveloping mist – another hike for another day! Onto the path at last.

Traversing along in an easy manner we enjoyed casual chatter whilst appreciating nature’s offerings. Fynbos, sugarbirds and other various sightings accompanied our party on the way down. Huge protea bushes at the foot of the mountain were on display in its full glory. We approached the start/end of the hike at 3.30pm as planned. As we turned around to view the climb that we had just accomplished – we were astonished to see that the mist had completely swallowed the mountain leaving only the peaks visible, the hump of the camel, the fragile knife edges had mysteriously transformed into gigantic ancient gods descending upon the little town of Kleinmond.

My thanks to Mervyn our leader and fellow hikers – also good luck to Paul who will be doing Mt. Kilimanjaro in September!

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ITEMS OF INTEREST BY GEOFF BARTON

Item 1.
Preliminary Notice – Karen Watkins will be arranging a pre-Christmas hike December 20th to 25th. Hex River Traverse, a repeat of last years hike WITHOUT the lightening. Details to follow.

Item 2.
ORANGE KLOOF VALLEY WALK – June 28th
GUEST LEADER – KAREN WATKINS
HIKERS – (MYSELF), Margaret, Gesine, Mary, Pat (Visitor), Ray and Colin.

We joined our guest leader for an easy hike around the Orange Kloof Valley. During the hike we discussed the various routes that start from the valley and lead onto the Back Table – room for a lot of exploring. We also identified various indigenous trees and planes that grow in the valley and some of us even sampled some field mushrooms. Good news, we all lived! We also managed to pull out some aliens – an ongoing task. We returned back across the valley visiting the Education Centre (not in use) before returning to our starting point.

To walk in Orange Kloof one needs a guide, as well as a permit. So, many thanks to Karen who is an Honorary Ranger for the Orange Kloof section of the National Park. Thanks for taking us on a most enjoyable afternoon hike.

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Item 3.
Peter P’s and my comments in the last Newsletter regarding booking for hikes – I feel it is wrong to put ones name down for a limited number hike and then not turn up for the hike. If you cannot make the hike, PLEASE let the leader know. This is good manners Remember the Hike Leaders devote a great deal of their personal time arranging these hikes for us.

SIGNAL HILL AMBLE – SUNDAY 20 JULY 2003
HIKE LEADER – TOMMY HISCOCK
REPORTER – MARGIE CRAWLEY
PRESENT : Tommy, Yvonne, Nicole, Rosemary, Rory, Gudrun, Margie and Margot (visitor)

Sunday morning dawned and for once I thought a hike was in order and renovation of my cottage could wait, my erstwhile partner being in higher places, namely, in the City of Gold, Egoli, Gauteng. I was actually suffering withdrawal symptoms having not hiked for 3 months or so and thought I was fairly deserving hearing the mountains gods calling me, calling me, calling me …

Eight of us gathered at the Kloof Nek parking lot, what a pleasure to see Yvonne back in action having had a successful hip op. recently. It was a truly beautiful mild winter’s day, so typical of the Cape, as we have experienced these past few (worrying) months albeit with so little rain thus far.

We started our amble from the Glen where I haven’t hiked for over 20 years and was pleasantly surprised to find it not as awful as one reads about in various daily rags, the normal amount of litter being found, nothing too awful though. We then crossed Kloof Road and walked around Lion’s Neck to the Camps Bay/Bantry Bay/Sea Point side admiring some of the simply enormous houses which have been built there, worth (to some) millions of Rands. We passed and greeted tourists and locals alike all enjoying their day as we were.

Tommy called a lunch break just below the Kramats and as everyone wasn’t in an hurry to go home, we all agreed we would like to walk some more, along Lion’s Rump in fact. We took the lower path passing the spot where motorized aircraft/handgliders and paragliders spring off the mountain though there were none at this particular time, whilst admiring the really beautiful fynbos, heather and wild flowers which have sprung up prematurely in this beautiful part of the world where we live. At the very end, about ¼ of France in the guise of tourists had alighted and I wondered how many millions of photos have been taken of Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles and Signal Hill itself from that very vantage point.

The guinea fowl were there in their dozens, totally unafraid of humans scratching for crumbs and other goodies from the picnickers. We were privileged to see a lone black eagle circling high, high, high above us with the telltale white patch on the underpart end of its wings. I know Signal Hill well as that was my exercise place when my dog was alive but for all the hundreds of times I have been up, I never fail to re-appreciate its beauty and tranquillity.

We got back to the cars via the path which runs parallel to the road after retracing our steps alongside his back about 1 ½ hours later. Good company, good conversation, good hikers, good everything, what more could one ask for in this paradise of ours?

Well done Yvonne for your efforts, we all enjoyed it as much as you did and thank you, as always, Tommy, for a delightful day.

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WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT!

There is something wrong with the Trails Club of South Africa. It is descending into a club of people who want to take and take and give nothing back. It never ceases to amaze me. If nothing is organised, there are complaints. If someone goes to a lot of trouble to organise something, and I mean A LOT OF TROUBLE, then the response from the membership is more than dismal, it is downright mind boggingly unacceptable.

I refer to the response to the Wine tasting evening organized by Tony.

A wine fundi was prepared to educate you on the finer points of wine. A cheese expert was prepared to bring some exotic cheeses and educate you on the finer cheeses. Tony had organized the wines, both red and white, and had gone to a lot of trouble to find examples of the various varietals. SIX - only six members phoned to say “Yes, we want to learn.” The rest of you preferred to remain uneducated and wallow in your uninformed lives.

Listen up people, if there is no support given to people who go to some trouble to organise either functions or trails or hikes, they are going to stop. You will be left wondering what happened to the Trails Club of S.A. We have already lost some of our best leaders because they were not supported. We have lost the people who organised the conservation programme because they were not supported. Tony has some great ideas for functions and he is not going to bother.

Who next?

What will we lost next?

WAKE UP, PEOPLE!!!

PETER P.

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MAKING LEADERS ON TABLE MOUNTAIN – Something of Interest
REPORTER – MARGIE CRAWLEY

This article was spotted in a local rag recently – making us all very proud of one of our “famous” members! The award-winning Pride of Table Mountain Project, an educational programme of the Wilderness Foundation, provides youngsters from poor areas on the Cape Flats with this experience. But the programme has another purpose, which is equally important – it creates leaders, and fosters leadership skills. Erica Widelko of the Wilderness Foundation has been with the programme since its inception in 1996.

The twice-monthly walks are booked out 2 to 3 months in advance. The project is self-sustaining – news gets around mainly through word of mouth. Schools – usually high schools – and community groups take part. There are no costs for the children – they are transported by bus to Kirstenbosch, provided with water bottles for the walk, and given lunch.

Out of these walks, the leaders have emerged. (ED. Hopefully future Hike Leaders for TCSA?) They are mostly in Grades 12 or 13 or recently finished school, and besides leading groups, meet separately for hikes and leadership training. Erica says she keeps a core team of about 20 leaders. Over the years, more than 70 youngsters have learned leadership skills on the programme – they are have come from Langa, Philippi, Nyanga, New Crossroads, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Mitchell’s Plain and Manenberg.

During the walks, Erica hands over full control to the leaders. Afterwards, they have a debriefing session, and there is also an “indaba” with the children, who are asked how they enjoyed the day, and what they learned.

“The early years were extremely challenging. What is most evident is the way they work as a team and organise and run the day. Remarkably, in a culture of limited resources, they are all volunteers” Erica was quoted.

The event is well co-ordinated. If it rains, the event is not cancelled. They go to the National Botanical Institute educational facility at Kirstenbosch, where they are taught about the environment, and interact with the leaders, playing educational games.

The Pride of Table Mountain Project won the Cape Times environmental award in 1998, and the Nedbank Green Trust award last year.

For enquiries about this project, phone Erica at the Wilderness Foundation on 674 3450.

(ED – Well done, Erica and keep up the good work!)

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KAREN’S THREE ROCKY PEAKS

The weather was not of the greatest, it was overcast and a cold wind was blowing. Seven of us were greeted by Karen and led off to the start of her hike. An indistinct path was found leading up towards a rock band. Karen led us up a short scramble which everyone managed quite easily. There was an easier route up the right hand side just in case. From here we were led to yet another short scramble before reaching the top of the first peak. A short rest and onwards, yet more scrambling and after the third peak, we were led down the Vlakkenberg path and back to our cars. Karen always has interesting adventurous hikes. She has written a book about these hikes which will be on sale soon.

Look out for news of the slide show she is giving in September about these routes.

PETER P.

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TONY’S KLAASJAGERSBERG!!! Sunday 3 August 2003
REPORTER – PETER P.

So I had to get up at 06h00 on a cold Sunday morning to meet with Tony in Glencairn. O.K., it was worth it. We had done this route before but this time we had decided that we had chosen the wrong route and thought that we would be able to choose a better route. There were 8 of us – Tony, Dereck A., Geoff B., Mervyn, Paul, Ray and a delightful visitor and the only female, Joanne – and moi.

We shuttled cars and set off from Wildeshuts Brand at the bottom of Red Hill. The first 1/8th is along a path leading up into the mountains. We soon turned off the path, and then started our bush whack. We reached the top of Desember Kop and took in the glorious view over the northern area of Cape Point Reserve. This was Peak 1. We were to bag three more peaks. Klaasjagersberg was our next target and here we had tea, at Peak 2. Our visitor began to say that her new boots were hurting her ankles. On the way down to the Cape Point Gap, I tripped over a stupid rock that didn’t get out of my way and thought that I had broken my leg. All was well, however, and we all pushed on, towards the Swartberg Mountains. My knee then started to stiffen up and Joanne too was in a lot of pain. There was a long stop while all the men tried to lighten her pain by stuffing a piece of foam between her ankle and the boot. It did not help very much and by the time we had reached the path to Peak 3, Swartkop Berg, for lunch, we had a very pain-racked lady on our hands – or rather, on Tony’s hands. I felt that if I rested for too long, my knee would get cold and stiffen up. I asked permission to push on, and on I went back to the cars where I waited for the others to join me. Tony in the meantime had to nurse Joanne down. Geoff B. carried her pack. We hope that we did not put her off hiking for life.

Beers at the Two ‘n Sixpence never tasted so good!

I am happy to say that there is no damage to my knee, ice and anti-inflammatory gel has set it right.

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VISIT TO MITCHELL’S BREWERY IN KNYSNA

I saw, I think, in the April/May Newsletter, that someone missed the tour to the Brewery, so here is my little report. The Brewery is located in the industrial area and you can follow your nose or ask Tourist Information for directions. Tours are at 10/30 Monday to Friday only. It was raining so we were the only ones on the tour. As you all know, beer is made of hops, malt and yeast, plus water. The Castle rubbish has maize added to it. The hops are grown in the George area by S.A. Breweries and malt is sourced overseas. There are various stainless steel tanks where the water plus additives pass through until finally the clear amber fluid is ready for bottling. The tour lasts about 15 minutes and is interesting if one has never toured a brewery. However, what really annoyed me was having to pay R15 for the tour. There is also sampling available. I did not partake as it is too early, but I have the feeling that one must also pay. There is a very nice selection of T-shirts, etc., for sale and the definite highlight of the tour were the Ferrari look-alike peak caps and I purchased one of the same. When one wears this cap everyone looks twice to see if it is the Ferrari cap.

By the way, in conclusion they have an amazing beer, brewed by Knysna Mitchell;s Brewery, which is not brewed by Cape Town Mitchell’s Brewery. Try it and you won’t regret it – it is called “Ten Shillings.”

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HIKING BOOTS FOR SALE

1 x pair of Hi-Tech UTAH Leather Hiking Boots Size 6. Only worn twice and as good as new. R350,00. Interested? Please call Margarethe on 082 701 3105.

A ‘MUST’ FOR YOUR FIRST AID KIT ON TRAILS – REPORT BY SUE FORD

After seeing some terrible blisters on the Club’s recent trip up to KwaZulu-Natal, I realized I knew of something that could have helped those poor hikers. It is called Wecesin drying out powder by Weleda products. After witnessing how quickly it has dried up and helped to heal my son’s hockey astro burns and grazes, it is the perfect remedy for all of us who go on trails just in case of blisters. Apart from being used to dry up broken, weeping blisters, it can also be used for grazes, burns, athletes foot and itchiness. In the case of blisters, grazes or burns, the powder can be sprinkled directly onto the raw area and does not cause any stinging or discomfort. The container it comes in may be a bit big to take on trails, but a film canister would be the perfect size to carry some in. It is available from pharmacies.

SO YOU THINK YOU KNOW TABLE MOUNTAIN?

Come test your knowledge, or learn about some of the exciting routes on your doorstep. We will also celebrate the launch of Karen’s new book “Adventure Walks & Scrambles on the Cape Peninsula”. See pictures from the book and identify familiar faces, maybe even yourself!

If there is time, Karen will also show slides of her recent climb of Mount Mulanji, Malawi.

ENTRANCE FREE BUT BRING MONEY FOR THE SHEBEEN, SNACKS PROVIDED.

(ED. – As this event may fall after the Newsletters go out, TCSA members can at least purchase a copy of Karen’s book, should they wish.)

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FLASH – FLASH – FLASH!!!

FORTHCOMING SOCIAL EVENTS TO LOOK FORWARD TO :-

Friday 12 September 2003 – 19h30 – Envio Centre
KAREN WATKINS will discuss her new book on ‘Adventure Walking and Hiking on Table Mountain’. There will be a slide show and we will share this evening with Meridian Hiking Club. There will be no charge but bring money for drinks, snacks will be provided.

Thursday 9 or Friday 10 October 2003 – 20h00 – Baxter Theatre
BANFF FILM FESTIVAL – This highly popular event is really worthwhile watching. Tony Burton will make a block booking. Seats are limited, so phone Tony immediately to indicate if you wish to attend. We will try for bookings on 10 October but will advise. Phone Tony @ 701 5021.

Saturday 11 October 2003 – Visit to the PLANT PROTECTION INSTITUTE in Stellenbosch
Meet at Enviro Centre at 1pm
This is a total “must do” for all plant and fynbos fans. Denise Hopkins has kindly arranged this interesting visit. Phone Denise to confirm at 797 5638.

Saturday 25 October – KAROO NATIONAL PARK (WORCESTER) and a VISIT TO KLEINPLASIE
Meet at Enviro Centre AT 08H00

Please note the meeting time has been changed from 07h00 to 08h00. Visit and walk in the Karoo Worcester Gardens and appreciate the magnificent collection of local flora. Afterwards, take a trip into South African history and step into the past and see in REAL LIFE how our ancestors lived and survived.

NB Mervyn has made a booking for accommodation at Kogelberg Nature Reserve for Saturday for 8 people - +/- R60,00 per person. He will be doing a hike there on Sunday 26 October, so for those wishing to either combine Saturday and Sunday, or for those wishing to stay at Kogelberg for the night, phone Mervyn soon to book – 715 6187.

Sunday 26 October – KOGELBERG NATURE RESERVE – Mervyn Henderson to lead.

A TALK ON ERICAS/DISAS – This talk will be arranged, details to follow later.

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

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