Indiana Jones and the Valley of Pools

08 Apr 2015 07:31 #63329 by AndrewP
Normally I take pride in knowing the dates of our public holidays. After all, I make use of every long weekend we get. Sometimes though Easter sneaks through the cracks. 2015 is such a case.

Thanks to dorkage on my side way bsck in 2014, I made plans to do a berg trip over Easter.Which is good. Except that I needed to collect a friend at the airport at 8am Friday morning and drop her off again at 6pm Monday.  This is bad. 

I settled early on for a trip restricted to the little berg and even agreed to lead an MCSA meet. It took a while to choose a suitable hike but after some thought I decided to go for the Valley of Pools. 

Day 1 started badly before we even left Jhb. I have 3 maps of the area and they all show different pathes. To get it off my chest, it turns out they are all wrong. This meant I could not get the party to set off early. So we all met at the car park at a dismal 2pm and messed about as only a party of 13 can. 

Eventually some people set off. And, 500m later got lost.  I set off with the final bunch and we headed down to Sterkspruit Falls. A simple path led to a jeep track through the forests.  Half way up this I started wondering about the others so I turned up the pace. By the top of the hill and ni onr in sight, I knew everyone else had gone another way. 

A few phone calls later and I went for a jog down the hill to retrive the masses. Who were still 2 people short! Another phone call and an hour later we had sorted matters out.

With time against us,we settled on a campsite on a ridge overlooking the car park. A long way short of the days target of Vaalribkop Cave. Total distance for the day was about 4km.

Next day we continued up the ridge following a path clearly not on either of the maps. A spilt in the path (obviously not on the map) was decided upon by the logic of which route would be easier if we lost the path altogether.

We carried on along surprisingly good pathes and had a pleasant trip towards Jacobs Ladder. 


Lunch saw the first signs of mutiny. I decided to stop on a ridge with good flat rocks to sit on while half the party called it a day 500m earlier. We eventually reunited and after a good break set off again. Half the party took the wrong turn towards Stable Cave but it helpd to have a meet leader who can really run to catch them up when needed. 2km to go to our target, Hospitalspruit Cave. Several hours of daylight left. Should be simple.


By now the group was getting tired and rebellious. A vulture caused a 20 min delay by flying past once. We lost another 30 min when everyone jusy sat down for no reason at all. 50 min down in only an hour is not good at all so I tried picking up the pace a bit. All well until the first hill when most of the party just collapsed.

I gave up and headed off for the cave with a reduced party of 4. Hospitalspruit Cave is indeed a sneaky one and even with a GPS coordinate I had to ditch common sense and head down to nothingness on the grassy slopes to find a cave where one did not belong. I headed back and after much grumbling and a blatent lie about water proximity got the party to the cave. Half of them promptly rebelled and headed up the hill to camp on the ridge. It was now after 5 and we barely collected water before it got dark. The valley of pools will have to wait. 

Next day saw a slow start and an even slower walk. By 11am we had finally gotten back to Stable Cave. Trip odometer was about 17 km (including my running back and forth).

I somehow pulled out the most inspirational speech of my life. Sergant Major Andrew put it simple. If we do not crack serious arse we will only get to campsite at midnight. And no, our average for the entire weekend is only 1km per hour so do not blame the lack of path of last 2km. And no we cannot wait until tomoorow due to the airport run.

A sneaky shortcut along the ridge top and some previously hidden energy got us just over 3km in the next hour to a well deserved lunch break. The swim in the pool was welcomed but it had a 30cm deep layer of sludge that you had to wash off after the swim.

We made it to campsite in dribs and drabs shortly after 4pm. I pitched my tent amongst the trees at Blindmans Corner and everyone else rebelled for the sake of it by camping amongst the bumpy grass tufts above.

I decided to go for a run up Sterkhorn. I went flat out and had aching legs, stiff stomach muscles and no breath at all on the way up.  I have climbed Sterkhorn before so did not wait long on top.  I then ran flat out down for a round trip of 86 min. All to keep up an average speed of about 1km per hour.


On Sunday the ground surprised me and we not only got up at 6am but were even walking 30 min ahead of schedule. The walk out past the Sphinx was uneventful and we all got down in a blistering 2 hours.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Serious tribe, kliktrak, ghaznavid, JustinB

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08 Apr 2015 09:39 #63332 by intrepid
:laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

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

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09 Apr 2015 20:46 - 09 Apr 2015 20:47 #63350 by HFc

AndrewP wrote:
I decided to go for a run up Sterkhorn. I went flat out and had aching legs, stiff stomach muscles and no breath at all on the way up.  I have climbed Sterkhorn before so did not wait long on top.  I then ran flat out down for a round trip of 86 min. All to keep up an average speed of about 1km per hour.


Thanks for the humerous read Andrew.

The 86min up and down Sterkhorn is quite immense. Just want to clarify the last sentence (as quoted), I assume you were trying to keep the weekend trip average above 1km/h? (The 86min up down sterkhorn meant you exceeded 3.5km/h on that bit... :thumbsup: )
Last edit: 09 Apr 2015 20:47 by HFc.

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09 Apr 2015 21:11 #63351 by ghaznavid
I never thought AndrewP and 1km/h would feature in the same sentence :laugh:

86m up Sterkhorn does sound a bit more like it though...

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12 Apr 2015 10:05 #63363 by Serious tribe
Big parties... :thumbsdown:

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