VE Berg Trip 5

12 Jul 2014 18:57 #61280 by tonymarshall
VE Berg Trip 5 was created by tonymarshall
Ok, time to get this trip off the ground. The next VE Berg trip, another in the pine tree series, is confirmed for the weekend of August 9-10, with Monday 11 as a third day. We will be focusing on the Tseketseke area at Didima using the hut as a base, and continuing with some of the work stated on VE Berg Trip 2 in 2012.

We plan on approaching Tseke Hut via Xeni Cave on the first day (bypassing the cutback of the contour path at the Xeni-Cockade valley) and doing a little bit of bush clearing along the trail, also carrying in small cans of paint and cheap brushes for the painting of the Tseke Hut and stashing them at the hut. If time permits we could even start painting the hut during the trip using the brushes that we will do a bit of painting with, then wrap the used paint brushes in a plastic bag, carry them out, and throw them away - since we cannot do any rinsing of the paintbrushes using water because of the environment.

It would be nice to do something interesting on the second day as we normally do, and we plan to get to the pines high up below the final cliffs on Cleft Peak, that were observed on VE Berg Trip 2, and finish them off. From there we could work out a way to get up to the escarpment (intrepid has seen one or two gullies which might make this possible, but it is a gamble and may involve scrambling) - once on top we could descend Tseketseke Pass back down to the hut. The third day would involve walking out down the Tseke valley where we would follow up on some of the ring barking done in 2012, and doing some pine felling or bush clearing along the trail as we go.

Hope to see many of you there!
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14 Jul 2014 20:44 #61287 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic VE Berg Trip 5
Thanks Tony for posting this.

I will be on the trip but Tony will be leading it and has my full support. I am doing this to encourage participation and leadership in the values that VE stands for. There is no intention for VE to become a hiking club. However there is an intention to encourage proactive participation in looking after our Drakensberg and nurturing a culture that enjoys it passionately and responsibly. This is a goal which goes beyond my own involvement, and even VE itself, and it is my hope that others too will be involved and take leadership in this.

Please send Tony a PM if you are interested in joining us.

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

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03 Aug 2014 16:13 #61443 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic VE Berg Trip 5
Ok, so next weekend is the trip, Saturday 9 to Monday 11 August. Any last minute takers to join intrepid, diverian, witchiwoo and me?

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04 Aug 2014 12:13 - 04 Aug 2014 12:15 #61450 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic VE Berg Trip 5
It would be great to see more people attend. Don't be afraid of the hard work, yes its hard, but we try not to make these trips into labour camps. The work is mostly quite fun and actually very rewarding. It gives you a real sense that you are giving something back to the Berg, and its also fun seeing a tree fall over. The pine tree project has has given me a perspective and dimension on the Berg that I didn't have before and Ive definitely gone to some places I would never have seen previously!

Its also good just to get to know everyone and build friendships.

Remember that you can join for two days, only over the weekend if it helps. You can walk out on Sunday from the hut if you need to.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 04 Aug 2014 12:15 by intrepid.

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04 Aug 2014 12:35 #61451 by Stijn
Replied by Stijn on topic VE Berg Trip 5
I'd love to join you guys, but have a pre-entered trail race in the Free State this weekend.

Enjoy! :thumbsup:

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04 Aug 2014 17:18 #61455 by diverian
Replied by diverian on topic VE Berg Trip 5
If anyone is keen , but transport is an issue, I am driving up from Durban on my own, and could provide anyone with a lift from Durban or PMB. Would be nice to have some company.

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12 Aug 2014 08:07 - 12 Aug 2014 08:09 #61496 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic VE Berg Trip 5
We ended up being three on the trip, intrepid, diverian and tonymarshall, hiked in along the contour path via Xeni Cave on Saturday clearing some of the worst bush along the path, arriving at Tseke hut as it was getting dark. On Sunday intrepid and I decimated the clump of pines below the cliffs of Cleft Peak, while diverian continued with the clump in the upper Tseketseke that we had started working on in 2012. In total we cut 75 pines and ring barked 6 that day. intrepid and I scoped out the gully to the escarpment, although the amount of work we had done had left us insufficient time to get up onto the escarpment, but we will certainly try this alternative route to Tseketseke Pass on the next trip. Again, we arrived back at the hut at nightfall after a successful day, also carrying down a bag of pine needles as an experiment for a floor covering in the hut and a pole for later use as part of the ladder we will construct for painting the roof. Monday we walked out down the Tseke valley, checking out the work we had done in 2012, which was very successful with one tree showing some regrowth, and two of the large ring barked trees not being dead yet. Two of the other ring barked trees had also fallen over and broken off, presumably from strong winds. We also pulled out numerous pine saplings, about 100, but we couldn't keep count, ranging in size from about 5 cm to 50 cm high, and cut three pines in the valley.

So a successful trip, although not much progress was made on the hut roof painting which will stand over to the next trip to this area. We also didn't obtain full concurrence with this from EKZN Wildlife regarding among other things the colour, so needed more time to get everything in place.

Will post some photos later this week.
Last edit: 12 Aug 2014 08:09 by tonymarshall.
The following user(s) said Thank You: intrepid, diverian, Stijn, ghaznavid, Smurfatefrog, andrew r

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12 Aug 2014 08:57 - 12 Aug 2014 09:00 #61500 by diverian
Replied by diverian on topic VE Berg Trip 5
Thanks Chris and Tony for a great weekend, you guys did an epic job on those pines high up in the pass in very difficult terrain, and had the scratches to prove it, returning to the hut in the dark with a tree trunk from our previous trip for the contruction a ladder to paint the roof was a classic sight !




The Team with a victim from our previous trip to the area.


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Last edit: 12 Aug 2014 09:00 by diverian.
The following user(s) said Thank You: intrepid, ghaznavid, Smurfatefrog, tonymarshall, HFc, Spykid

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12 Aug 2014 21:25 - 12 Aug 2014 21:28 #61504 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic VE Berg Trip 5
Ian and Tony, thanks for another memorable trip, and for many discussions and laughs about VE, the Berg and life in general! Your hard work and commitment to the cause is a source of great encouragement to me.



I think the three of us can sleep better knowing that the "Cleft Peak Pine Cluster" has been dealt with. This rarely spotted cluster is one of the highest we know of in the Berg. Its a stiff, steep slog through thick, hard-stemmed vegetation to get to them, and the steep gradient and vegetation persists around the trees, making the work more challenging. Tony and I were truly exhausted by working on this cluster and the only thing that kept us going was the thought of otherwise having to return to them another day! The reward for us was a spectacular traverse directly below the cliffs of Cleft Peak afterwards! Ian also had his hands full with similar, thick bush in the cluster below us. We have our moments of tiredness, sliced up shins, blisters and splinters in our hands, and frustration of getting tangled up in thick bush on steep slopes - but truth be told, we love what we do, and we love the Berg we do it for!






Kudos to Tony who carried that old pine tree 700m down the river - a true Berg pine chopper, with bow saw-and bush-knife strapped to his back!


Some minor improvements were done to the hut which we will post more on later.

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

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Last edit: 12 Aug 2014 21:28 by intrepid.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Serious tribe, diverian, Stijn, ghaznavid, Smurfatefrog, tonymarshall, HFc

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17 Aug 2014 06:15 - 17 Aug 2014 06:24 #61524 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic VE Berg Trip 5
Some photos of the pine tree trip to Tseketseke.

Lunch in Xeni Cave, intrepid and diverian.



A bushy section of the contour path where bushes were cut along the path in the Nyosi valley.



The bushy slope up from the Tseketseke valley to the cluster of trees below Cleft Peak.



Some of the pine trees below the cliffs of Cleft Peak.



intrepid ring barking the stump of a felled pine.



Pine tree carnage.



Unusual view across the Tseketseke valley to Column and Pyramid, Tseketseke Pass to the left of centre on the skyline.



Traversing below the cliffs of Cleft Peak intrepid is dwarfed by the rock face.



Improved door latch to close the door from the inside of Tseketseke Hut, with a handle on the wire latch to hook it over the nail in the door post more easily.



Outside door latch.



Tseketseke Hut roof in need of paint.

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Last edit: 17 Aug 2014 06:24 by tonymarshall.
The following user(s) said Thank You: intrepid, Serious tribe, diverian, elinda, Selous, Bigsnake, ghaznavid, Smurfatefrog, HFc, Richard Hunt

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