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.

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins
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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/

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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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.

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10 Dec 2018 13:56 #74345 by Calvinragg
Replied by Calvinragg on topic Mini Hike Reports
Hi,
Great photos.
I'm pretty sure you are one members of the group of three people my friends and I met along our hike about 1.5km from the hut on the way up to the organ pipes pass.Glad to see your hike went well despite the less than ideal weather conditions haha.

We managed to make it up the pass, but unfortunately we were not able to find Roland's cave due to the poor visibility and ended up spending the night in our tents. One of our group members fell ill and we had to turn back the next day. We had some spectacular views on the way down through the snow, some beautiful bird life and troops of baboons which made it all well worth it.
   
We are planning to find the cave again at the end of March next year and we are hoping to find a GPX file for our GPS. I was wondering if you had a GPX file to the cave and willing to share it with us or possibly pass me onto someone who may be able to help us.
You can contact me via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kind regards,
Calvin Ragg.  
   

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20 Dec 2018 15:26 #74406 by WarrenM
Replied by WarrenM on topic Mini Hike Reports
After heading up Thumb pass on Sunday, Ruth and I headed to Bannerman pass, and descended to Spare Rib cave for the night, 12H00 start, up Thumb pass, across the escarpment, down Bannerman and we got to Spare Rib around 19h00.

On between Thumb pass and Bannerman Pass the the weather was fairly active, watching the sum piercing through the clouds was enjoyable



Spare rib cave was fairly wet, it is a big cave and there are areas that are dry enough, on the one side of the cave there was enough of a cluster of drips that I had a mini shower.



On Monday, after using up my allotment of unmarked passes for the weekend with Thumb pass, we decided to head back up Bannerman Pass and across to Popple and Mafadi, and we would see how we felt about around the cnr and Cnr pass, we only really had time for either the passes or Mafadi, so when we got to around the cnr pass and I started heading down, Ruth quickly called me back and we opted for Mafadi instead.

There is a nice amount of water coming down from Trogan wall as you head up from the south, it was good to see given that the berg is fairly dry.



On the way up Mafadi we could hear  and see the weather building over Giants Castle, and knew that we would get caught in it as a point, so we didn't stick around on Mafadi for long, but aim to get off the escarpment, which was a wise decision. It was drizzling once we arrive at the top of Judge Pass, and as we headed down we the rain and wind just got stronger. By the time we got to the contour path we were soaked through and the wind and rain were making things unpleasantly cold.

It is a long way to Bannerman hut, on a very indistinct contour path, when you are cold and it feels like the wind is doing it's best to make things unpleasant for you.
We hadn't booked the hut knowing that there were people that had, we didn't really have another option at that stage and we needed to get dry and warm, the family that was in the hut was more than accommodating to have us arrive which we truly appreciated, and we spent the night on the floor while the rain and wind continued through the night.



Early on Tuesday morning with little wind and no rain, we left early and aimed to have a hot breakfast at Giants Castle.


Bannerman hut was a mess, people have piled there rubbish where the toilet used to be and it stinks, it is really terrible. The ladies at reception said they would send someone up to clean it up.

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24 Dec 2018 01:20 #74412 by Nicolaas
Replied by Nicolaas on topic Mini Hike Reports
Earlier in the week I came across this rock lying right on the didima path along the didima gorge. The hole is very strange and I have seen similar tools that were made by the bushman in other parts of the country. I have marked its location and will be able to identify it if the rock turns out to be significant. Anybody with a bit more knowledge?

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24 Dec 2018 18:23 #74413 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Mini Hike Reports
It looks like a weight which would be placed on a digging stick to add more force to the digging.

A sharpened digging stick would be placed through the hole in the rock, and the rock would be wedged in place on the stick with wood or stone wedges, hence the elongated shape of the hole. These tools were used by San women for digging up edible roots, bulbs etc, and are quite common in scenes in San rock art.
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01 Jan 2019 18:56 #74421 by Richard Hunt
Replied by Richard Hunt on topic Mini Hike Reports
Elaine, Chef Jeremy and myself did an enjoyable 4 day hike in the Bushmans Nek area. I took videos throughout the 4 days and have  28 min footage for those keen to watch. If you don't like the cooking sections in the caves just fast forward.....enjoy

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