Giants Castle hikes - 3 days

03 Feb 2020 18:20 - 03 Feb 2020 18:21 #75673 by diverian
Hi Drakie 1
There is a smugglers path that cuts out the South ridge, as shown approx in red , I have seen the path on both sides but have not done it. We found a nice spot at the source of the Mooi to camp the first night.

 

The path from the East
 

The path from the West.

There may be other members who have hiked this ?

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Last edit: 03 Feb 2020 18:21 by diverian.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Drakie1

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04 Feb 2020 10:35 #75675 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Giants Castle hikes - 3 days
We are planning on going down Elandshoek pass in Feb, so I'll keep an eye out for water and camping spots Drakie.

That being said, there are numerous flat spots around Giants Castle. We've tented a number of times on the flat spot just to the left of the pass head as you walk into Lesotho. or to describe it from the direction you will be coming: As you start the final ascent to Giants pass from the Lesotho side, you will notice a couple of "terraces" on your right. These make good camping spots. If you want to camp further away from the pass head, walk towards Makaza, also numerous flat spots around here. Or, alternatively, on the top of the Long Wall are numerous flat spots, but you might have to move some loose rocks out the way first. No water though, so just carry some extra up the ridge. And please, stake out your tents properly as the wind on the Long Wall can be, how shall I put it,.....interesting!

Enjoy!!!

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10 Feb 2020 14:46 #75686 by Drakie1
Hi Riaang. Thanks for your reply. Will you then be doing the same route as we are planning but just the other way round........ up with Giant's pass and down Elandshoek pass?

When will you be doing this hike and over how many days? I am looking forward to your report.
Enjoy.

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14 Feb 2020 10:00 #75697 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Giants Castle hikes - 3 days
Hi Drakie1

Not quite. The plan is to go up Langies on the Friday, then visit Redi peak on Saturday and down Elandshoek pass on Sunday.

I need to take a peak into the area south of Giants for an upcoming traverse we are planning. Never been south of Giants before, so really looking forward to this chance to explore a bit of new terrain.

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15 Feb 2020 07:32 #75701 by Drakie1
Hi Riaang

Quite a distance you are planning to cover in three days.
We did the Grand Traverse end of April beginning of May last year. I remember camping just west of The Tent. I would gladly share any info that may be useful to you.

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17 Feb 2020 09:17 #75705 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Giants Castle hikes - 3 days
Hi Drakie,

If you could send me the location of your tenting spot it would be appreciated.

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24 Feb 2020 12:50 - 24 Feb 2020 12:52 #75716 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Giants Castle hikes - 3 days
Quick feedback regarding our hike at Giants Castle this past weekend.

I still need to transfer images from my phone to my laptop, so let me just write a short version so long.

We left Joburg early and started hiking at 10am. Boy, it was properly hot down in the valley. Counted 3 ridges and spotted the path up towards Langies. Saw a large herd of eland at the valley floor at the start of this path, probably a good 30 strong. Nice!!!

We ascended fairly fast and it became cooler. At around 2400m we entered the cloud covering most of the escarpment. at 14H30 we had topped out on the escarpment. I've only once descended Langies, so ascending it was quite fun. Super fast way to get to the top - where else can you get from the camp to the escarpment in 4H30min? I'm obviously discounting the chain ladders here. Not sure if we walked particularly fast - definitely didn't feel like it. First berg hike in 4 months and carrying the tent for the first time in a while resulted in a bit of suffering. You know how it goes with the first hike of the year :-)

We stopped for a late lunch basically at the spot where a couple of streams coming from Langies and Bannermans meet. Really pretty. 15min later we were up and running, I mean hiking again. Durnford was calling. We had a small window of sunshine and blue sky during lunch, but now the clouds rolled in again and viz was down to like 10m or less. The GPS definitely helped in guiding us to Durnford gap. We dropped down the valley floor on the other side and carried on upstream for a while. The plan was to go over the rifde opposite the Long wall and tent below the tent, but this was not to be. The one member of our hiking party had injured his leg while running earlier the week, and it was causing him some pain on the uphills. The sun was about to go down and the weather was looking a bit ominous, so we decided to tent on the first suitable flat spot. Which was a bit difficult to find, as most of the flat areas were completely swampy. I've never seen the terrain so water-logged before.

Just after dinner it started to rain, but fortunately it didn't persist. We were a bit behind schedule so Saturday would be longer than planned. We got up early and the weather looked fantastic. I've never hiked south of Giants before, so I was really looking forward to exploring the terrain up to Redi peak -our turn around point for the day. We dropped down into the valley and it was really beautiful. Traversing it was a bit of a slow process as most of the lower-lying areas were very marshy. Good thing we all had waterproof boots. We stayed on the right of the river and slowly started to make our way towards Redi, contouring gradually upwards. When we got to just past the hawk we turned up to the right and tackled the ridge straight on. Quite a steep little ridge that. Spectacular scenery though, as everywhere you looked there were waterfalls falling off the escarpment and cliffs.

Once we topped out it was a fairly level and easy walk to the base of Redi. We scrambled up and did a 360 look around, walked back down and had lunch. The clouds had rolled in again, and we started off to get to the top of Elandshoek pass before the rain caught us. There was so much water everywhere, there was no need to carry water. I had a quick look at the cave below Redi and wasn't impressed. It might work as an emergency shelter, but only if no rain blew in from the escarpment side. Very shallow overhang, maybe 1 1/2m deep. we decided for the return leg down to the valley floor to stay on the ridge a bit. It offered us great views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. We crossed the valley floor again and soon we were walking on the path directly below the top of Giants pass. It was raining hard to our right and I wasn't particularly looking forward to getting soaked. We made it as far as Makaza when the rain caught us. Fortunately it was a quick shower, but we were drenched. We started looking around for a camping spot. I had just 2 requirements. Flat and dry please. Flat was easy to find, dry was not. After walking oaal over the eare, even dropping to lower elevation we coudn't find anything suitable for two tents. About a minute before I was going to suggest we walk back to the area directly below Giants pass head, we found a spot. After a bit of landscaping work, we set up camp. Just as I started the stove the heavens opened up, the mist rolled in again and it rained till my alarm went off at 4:50am on Sunday morning. 

Packing up in the rain is not my idea of fun. The fog was so thick, you could bottle it. We had a quick chat about descending Elandshoek pass in the mist, and we all decided to rather give it a miss. None of us had done the pass before, and we wanted to see what it looked like, so descending a new pass in low viz, risking getting lost and getting home late was nobody's idea of fun. We stayed in our sleeping bags for another forty minutes or so, and then the rain stopped. We packed up in mist thick enough to still make everything wet, but at least we could have breakfast outside the tent. I don't fit in most tents, so being outside is much preferred.
Viz was still at 10m so we sett off past Makaza and back to Giants Castle pass head. After crossing 3 streams (on Saturday there were only two) I started the hike up towards the pass head. The wind speed picked up significantly and we knew we were close to the top of the pass. The top of the pass looked like a waterfall. There was water everywhere. All the paths were covered in water, which made for interesting walking. I wanted to show Ian the two main caves at the bottom of the rock band, but there was so much water between where we were and the caves, that we decided to visit them on another occasion. Definitely too risky to cross the river between us and the caves. Amazing, 2 years ago it was bone dry, now it was difficult to walk due to all the water coming off the mountain.

As we descended we could see sunshine covering the lower berg. It was time to peel off the layers of wind and waterproof clothing. Soon we had to stop to apply sunscreen. The heat from the valley floor, coupled with all the moisture in the area made for very humid condition. No need to carry water, you just inhaled it!

We arrived back at camp just after noon, had a quick shower, burger, and then drove home.

Awesome hike - we will have to return to do Elandshoek pass. Always something to look forward to :-)
Last edit: 24 Feb 2020 12:52 by Riaang.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Serious tribe, Stijn, JonWells, firephish, Sabine, HikerParsons

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