Small Berg Traverse

12 Aug 2012 07:04 #54906 by ghaznavid
Does anyone out there know if a full traverse of the Small Berg as a continuous hike has ever been done?

Roughly a GT route, start at Sentinel carpark and end at Bushman's Nek border post, using the contour path when available, part of Giants Cup and part of the other trails for the south, and with great difficulty north of Cathedral.

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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12 Aug 2012 09:37 #54907 by thomas
Replied by thomas on topic Small Berg Traverse
I would be happy to share my proposal once solicited to KZNWildlife in early 2000 for just such a route through the "little" or small Berg, starting RNNP and ending Sehlabathebe. I had also canvassed David Bristow about it given his classic book Drakensberg Walks from 1986 (see page 122) mentions this as an effort worth pursuing but in reality no real such trail exists continuously. I called the trail the via-DUCT: via the Drakensberg-uKhahlamba Contour Trail. Work and travel diverted my efforts to make this a reality.

I have seen no written account of a continuous hike along the "countours" of the little berg, ever, just persons (like Bristow) claiming to have hiked all along the berg throughout a span of time and surely many members likewise on VE.

Let me know if you would like more info as contouring now may be worse or better than before given the nature of the trails and money devoted to upkeep. I suspect some areas are worse with trails fallen disused and unrepaired. It had always surprised me that such a thing never existed, but given the piecemeal conglomeration and accumulation of parks, reserves, wilderness areas, "locations" and private land that comprise this region, I guess I am not surprised.
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12 Aug 2012 10:06 - 12 Aug 2012 10:07 #54908 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Small Berg Traverse

thomas wrote: I called the trail the via-DUCT: via the Drakensberg-uKhahlamba Contour Trail.

Clever :thumbsup:

I don't know how a general trail through the Garden Castle area would work, especially around Rhino and the bits south of there - but they did manage to do Philips Folly and Eastman's Ridge for the contour path, so its probably doable with a bit of imagination and what would seem to be unnecessarily difficult hiking.

If I tried to do a hike like this (not on my short term to-do list), I would need to do some good planning for RNNP and Mnweni, follow the contour path from Cathedral to its end, and then use a combination of existing paths and bundu bashing for the southern bit, Giant's Cup is too far from the mountains to be worthwhile in such an effort.

On the bright side, there are tons of usable caves along the way, occasional mountain huts and planning resupplies would theoretically be easy.

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins
Last edit: 12 Aug 2012 10:07 by ghaznavid.

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12 Aug 2012 10:53 #54909 by thomas
Replied by thomas on topic Small Berg Traverse
Doing the via-DUCT top to bottom would involve pathfinding and trail blazing, truly a pioneering effort. I calculated approximately 300km of current and created trail.

The entire premesis was based on ecosystem integrity: To guarantee habitats large enough to secure strong gene flow, healthy biota and biodiversity, protected areas must be more than “doughnut holes” and isolated reserves. They must exemplify an ecosystem approach that links biomes together, alpine to alpine e.g., little berg to little berg, but also encompasses a variety of lifesystems: alpine linked to subalpine linked to montane, etc. via-DUCT was a proposed linkage, mostly symbolic, but nevertheless important, in effect like a trail would be on top of the Berg (I called it DUET: Drak-uKhahlamba Escarpment Trail). So via-DUCT would be great but even greater sanctioned by the authorities to give it gravitas and ensure sustainability. That would be the greatest challenge, not the hike itself.

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12 Aug 2012 12:15 #54910 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Small Berg Traverse
Any escarpment full-GT trail would be hard to set up, especially with the disputed border and areas like the bit between Auditor and Bannerman Pass where the border is basically the top of a rock face, although there is a substantial trail on large parts of the GT route, especially Sani-Mohlesi and Ships Prow to Smugglers Pass.

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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12 Aug 2012 15:39 #54923 by BobbyStanton
Replied by BobbyStanton on topic Small Berg Traverse
You can walk on a "path" from the vicinity of Hlatimba Pass to Cathedral Peak, coming down via One Tree Hill or alternatively past Sherman's Cave. A few years ago a group from the Mountain Backpackers Club led by John Pickup walked this route, from Loteni to Cathedral. The path is a bit overgrown in some areas. There may even be a path from Vergelegen to the Hlatimba region but I don't know that area too well. You will have to descend to the camps in some places such as Loteni and Injasuti, but the paths carry on. An American woman by the name of Janee Levy spent some time in the 1980's as an advisor or consultant to the then NPB and the Forestry Department, and the National Hiking Way was planned, which circumnavigated South Africa. A start was made on the Berg section but it was never completed. I believe the Giant's Cup Trail was a product of all this as well. Janee Levy wrote a book on hiking in SA which I have somewhere, and I think it contains some information on the trail. The path that I mentioned above is shown on the Slingsby maps and the current Berg maps.
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12 Aug 2012 20:02 #54926 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Small Berg Traverse
I've toyed with this idea for a while and was thinking to try now in August as a matter of fact, but other things came up.

The idea of officially extending the contour path is still alive according to some conversations I've had.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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