Mini Hike Reports

08 Nov 2018 09:22 - 08 Nov 2018 20:22 #74185 by andrew r
Replied by andrew r on topic Mini Hike Reports
Bannerman Pass - Langalibalele Pass Loop

When my Dutch friend Martin (who now lives in the Netherlands again) asked me to arrange a bush walk or Berg hike during his visit to South Africa, I was not too disappointed that the Umfolozi Trails were fully booked during the time he had available, and a hike in the mountains became the only option. We decided on a 2-night trip from Giants Castle Camp since it involved the least amount of travelling (theoretically) and we had not been there before, with our plan being to do a loop up Bannerman Pass and down Langalibalele Pass, with some scouting about on top of the escarpment if we found ourselves with free time. It’s a 4.5 hour trip (plus food/fuel stops) from home to the EKZN Giants Castle Camp, but unfortunately we found ourselves well on the way to Monks Cowl Camp before we realised that Giants Castle Reserve on our GPS is not the same as Giants Castle Camp, with the resulting detour adding another hour to our trip which meant that we arrived after the office had closed.

Fortunately a prior call to ghaznavid gave us sufficient confidence to set off up the trail to Bannerman Hut at 17:30 on Sunday afternoon. All was not well with Martin however, as the tummy bug he had picked up the day before was still in his system, sapping his strength and resolve. We pushed on but when it got dark and thunderstorm clouds started rolling over the edge of the escarpment we decided to put up our tent on the first available piece of flattish ground, just in the nick of time with the thunder, wind and rain hitting us as we were pegging in the guy ropes. Buffeted until the early hours of the morning by the wind and intermittent rain, we woke to calm clear skies and Martin feeling a little better.



We set off at 6:15 for the contour path and Bannerman Hut,



getting to the hut two hours later which we found to be very tidy and stopped for breakfast.



Martin was still feeling sub-par but we decided to head off up Bannerman Pass at 9:15 and if it became too much we would return to the hut for the night and go home. We took a break for tea at a lovely little pool at about 2600m, then continued on up in bright sunshine, reaching the top at around 13:15 where there was a strong wind and we huddled in the lee of some rocks for lunch.



The weather began changing and a rain storm went past to the east while we ate, and when another approached us from the north we decided to look for better shelter in Bannerman Cave. Despite the warning on the Langalibalele Pass thread we made the classic mistake of heading too far west in the wrong valley and it took us a couple of hours in wind and light driving-rain before we worked our way around two valleys and eventually found the cave, whereupon the rain stopped and the sun came out.




Bannerman is a great cave and really well protected from the weather with a built in veranda (but gosh it’s a LONG way from water) and we spent a very comfortable night listening to the wind howling past outside. We woke at 6:00 and at 6:45 hiked to the summit start of Langalibalele Pass where we had breakfast with some horses and the spirits of the Carbineers by the stream before setting off down at 8:15.



9:15 and we were at the waterfall and pool that marks the bottom of the pass, where we stopped for another cup of tea before setting off for a lot more descending down the verdant green hills and valleys of the lower berg. This was by far the most enjoyable and scenic walk out I have done and it was over all too soon when we arrived back at Giants Castle Camp.

 

(photos to follow)

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Last edit: 08 Nov 2018 20:22 by andrew r. Reason: layout & photos
The following user(s) said Thank You: Serious tribe, elinda, JonWells, ghaznavid, hikingle, Papa Dragon, Dave, WarrenM

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08 Nov 2018 14:43 #74190 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Mini Hike Reports
Glad you guys came right in the end!

andrew r wrote: This was by far the most enjoyable and scenic walk out I have done and it was over all too soon when we arrived back at Giants Castle Camp.


I suspect you now realise why I have done this pass 20 times (6 times this year) :lol: Very fast way from the top to the car, all on a good trail and with some pretty cool views. I love the bit of Langalibalele Ridge where you have a big drop-off on both sides of the trail - also seen eland on that ridge very often.
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08 Nov 2018 20:25 #74194 by andrew r
Replied by andrew r on topic Mini Hike Reports
Yes, thanks for the help ghaz.
here are a couple more pics of the hike out:




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12 Nov 2018 14:35 #74205 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Mini Hike Reports
Last weekend I lead a hike up Ntunja and Sterkhorn - which was event 5 of the MCSA Mountain Challenge.

We had perfect weather, and the 3 of us that went up Sterkhorn were at the MOTH memorial at 11am on 11 November, the centenary of the end of WW1.

Here are a few photos:
  

The full story is at this link:
jonathantheghaznavid.wordpress.com/2018/11/12/ntunja-and-sterkhorn/

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25 Nov 2018 20:49 - 25 Nov 2018 20:53 #74271 by Smurfatefrog
Replied by Smurfatefrog on topic Mini Hike Reports
A few pics from last weekend.
Day 1 up Sphinx route, visiting Zulu cave, Cat cave and sleeping in Eagle cave
Day 2 down the Mhlwazini river, up Hospitalspruit valley, quick stop at Vaalribokkop cave, then onto Stable cave to meet the pine team.
Day 3 down Jacobs Ladder

It was probably the hottest weekend I've had in the berg, normal afternoon storms just never arrived to cool things down!

Water snake at Crystal falls 


Morning view from Eagle cave


View back up the valley from below Eagle cave to Cathkin and Monks Cowl


Looking up the Hospitalspruit valley, the path is on the left, then goes through the forest and onto the right
 

View towards the Cathedral range, the path goes past the Hospitalspruit valley and then cuts back. The paths on both sides of the river are visible here


We lost the path at the river crossing, so went straight up to meet the path on the other side


Just before entering the forest, which zigzags up and can be seen on the other side.
Note the interesting standalone sandstone formation top left 


Looking back downstream after the forest section

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Last edit: 25 Nov 2018 20:53 by Smurfatefrog.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Serious tribe, elinda, JonWells, ghaznavid, hikingle, tonymarshall, Richard Hunt, andrew r, Dave, WarrenM

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