Goats Cave 9-11 August 2013

12 Aug 2013 14:32 - 12 Aug 2013 14:43 #58036 by JonWells
On Friday 9th August at around 9.30am, Smurfatefrog, John “Kimi” Wallett, and myself arrived at the Bushman’s Nek border to begin the long weekend hike. It was already very cold, 4.5°C and drizzling, the mountains completely hidden behind a veil of mist and cloud.

We went to the office to pay for our hiking permits. As we were about to leave, the lady there looked at me rather concernedly and asked “You don’t think it will be snowing up there?”

“Yes I think so!” I laughed.

We strapped on our packs, crossed the rivers and began the long slog up Thomathu Ridge to Thomathu Cave which would serve as our lunch rest spot.



Kimi, Smurf and myself


Two and half hours later we were there. It was good to be back at the cave, one of my personal Berg favourites. The mist was getting thicker, and the temperature had dropped to 2.5°C so it was nice to get out of the rain for a bit and tuck into our pre-packed bacon and egg dagwood sandwiches that we had purchased from Underberg Spar that morning.




After we had refueled, it was back on with the rain gear to tackle the next mission of the day: Up Thomathu Pass, round Thomathu peak to look for water, then straight to Goat’s cave where we were to spend the two nights.

A couple hundred metres past the cave I noticed the tiny drizzle drops had started bouncing off my shell jacket instead of sticking to it. The first sleet. Minutes later, close to the top of Thomathu Pass the first proper snowflakes began falling steadily. “Whoohoo!” Knowing that we were close to reaching a cosy cave meant that this was a perfect beginning to our weekend!








Before long we had come to the stream and were very happy to find that there was ample water in it. I cursed a bit that I had carried an extra 2 litres up from the car park, but I guess it was better to play it safe than to arrive in the afternoon to a dry river bed.

With all our bottles filled up, it was time to head to the cave. Snow was starting to accumulate on the ground, and we were all looking forward to settling into a dry sheltered cave.

None of us had been to this cave before, so in the mist and snow we had no choice but to trust our GPS’s to lead us there. At the end of a fairly stiff climb we arrived at the cave and our hearts sank! The cave was awful; a tiny crack in the rock face with barely any room to take shelter. Even sitting in the cave we had snowflakes landing on our heads.

“How on earth can this cave be rated for 10 people???” we wondered.

We knew we had the option of looking for Lammergeier cave or heading back down to Thomathu cave, but we were tired now, and in no mood to pack up again and head back into the snow. We eventually decided to ride out the night, then relocate first thing in the morning to somewhere more sheltered. We did our best to try keep our spirits cheerful, but everyone was pretty bleak on the inside.




After an hour or so, and a shot or two of whiskey, I wanted to stretch my legs, so went for a little walk. As I rounded the corner I saw one of the greatest sights I’d ever seen, a large sheltered cave!

“YOU IDIOT!!!” I thought to myself as I realized we had spent the last hour shivering in a rock crack for nothing. Balancing the sheer frustration with the pure joy at the discovery I hastily ran back to the others shouting:

“WE’RE IN THE WRONG $%@#%$# CAVE!”

Well it took a little while to convince Smurf and Kimi that I wasn’t kidding around, but we all eventually stuffed everything back into our packs and made our way around the corner to TRUE Goats Cave. Now this cave in reality is a large dustbowl full of livestock dung, but after what we had come from, in our eyes it was nothing other than a palace fit for a king! With instantly rejuvenated spirits we settled into our new abode as the light faded, with snow still coming down.




When dawn broke we were pleased to see blue skies. The view of the snowy landscape was magnificent! We set about taking pictures of our surroundings, feeling privileged to have found ourselves in the right place at the right time!


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Last edit: 12 Aug 2013 14:43 by JonWells.
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12 Aug 2013 14:38 #58037 by JonWells







Our plan for the day had been to possibly have a crack at climbing Thaba Ngwangwe, so we packed some food and water, and headed down the valley to see what it looked like.

More stunning scenery!













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12 Aug 2013 14:41 #58038 by JonWells
With the snow covered slope looking very steep and slippery, we decided to give it a miss, and opted to rather climb the ridge to the south of us, which had lost a lot of its snow in the morning sunlight. The extra altitude gave us a great view looking North.







Back in the cave, we spent rest of the day just soaking up the sun. A great afternoon of relaxing in the Berg!

The next morning we packed up and left our “Palace” at around 8am.




3 Hours later we were all enjoying the customary post-hike beer at the Silverstreams Trading Store, a great way to wrap up a memorable weekend in the mountains! :thumbsup:

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14 Aug 2013 18:12 #58072 by vanhimself
Thank you for sharing the awesome trip with great pics, Jon.

I smile when I think of your excitement of finding the real cave. :cheer:
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20 Aug 2013 23:25 #58140 by Serious tribe
That would have been a 'close but no cigar moment' if you had only found the cave the following morning!!!

If at all possible, and once the energy levels have recovered, i always like to recce the area i have stopped in. It is a good thing you decided to stretch your legs. Nice snow shots as well.
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