Mini Hike Reports

28 Feb 2019 13:08 #74694 by Serious tribe
Replied by Serious tribe on topic Mini Hike Reports
How sad that Centennial Hut is being trashed to such an extent.

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28 Feb 2019 17:29 - 28 Feb 2019 17:40 #74696 by Papa Dragon
Replied by Papa Dragon on topic Mini Hike Reports
On the weekend of 15 to 17 Feb, Kirst, Singlespeed and I hiked from Bushman's Nek.

Our plan was:
1) Explore Sehlabathebe
2) Summit at least one Knuckle
3) Visit Tsoelikane Falls

The forecast for Friday was for rain in the morning, and clearing in the afternoon, but this was reversed. We hiked up to Tarn Cave in reasonable weather, got there in time for an early lunch, and then it started raining. So we decided to laugh off the Knuckle for Friday, and after lunch Singlespeed and I checked around Sehlabathebe a bit, and Kirst stayed at the cave with our kit..

The weather was clear on Saturday, so we decided to tackle South Knuckle. We summitted, and then made our way back towards Sehlabathebe Lodge, and the path to Tsoelikane Falls. We had lunch near the dam at the lodge, and then followed the path southwards. When we arrived at the river crossing near the falls, it became apparent that we were not going to be able to cross easily.. it was about 3pm, there was a storm building, and to traverse to the north.. well we reckoned that would be at least an hour to the falls, and an hour back, and a 2 hour walk back to the cave.. so.. reluctantly we decided to leave Tsoelikane Falls for another day. Pity, because none of us had been there, I had been meaning to get there on a few occasions, and I'm sure it would have been spectacular with the river as full as it was.

So we made our way back to Tarn Cave, not quickly enough to escape walking the last few km in the rain..

Sunday dawned a beautiful day, and we made a detour to explore the sandstone formations between Tarn Cave and Bushman's Nek Pass, which we then descended to make our way back to the car at Bushman's Nek.

Here's a few pics from our wonderful hike...

The falls near Bushman's Nek Border Post


 Cedric's Pool


The Knuckles framed by a rock arch


A wet Tarn Cave on Saturday morning


South Knuckle


Gladioli


Rock formation


Sunrise Sunday 


Rock formation

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Last edit: 28 Feb 2019 17:40 by Papa Dragon.

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06 Mar 2019 20:25 - 06 Mar 2019 20:27 #74729 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Mini Hike Reports
Some photos from my recent 3 day hike up Mafadi. Day 1 up Boundary Ridge to Centenary Hut. Day 2 up Northern High Approach and Around the Corner Pass to UIC. Day 3 down Leslies and back to Injisuthi. We bagged Trojan Wall, Injisuthi Dome, Mafadi, Lithabolong and Sombrero along the way. It was Melissa's 3rd time above 3000m and Chris' 2nd time above 3000m. It was also the most continuous distance done on top for Graeme, Mel and Chris. 51km in total, and overall a great hike.



Full story at this link.

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

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Last edit: 06 Mar 2019 20:27 by ghaznavid.

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07 Mar 2019 14:08 #74736 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Mini Hike Reports
Wow, you had icy conditions at Injasuthi, while we were cooking in the Mnweni area. 

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07 Mar 2019 15:53 #74738 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Mini Hike Reports

Riaang wrote: Wow, you had icy conditions at Injasuthi, while we were cooking in the Mnweni area. 


This was about 3 weeks ago. Took me a while to get my report up with year end etc.

Next 2 months in the mountains should be very busy for me - not sure how much of it I will get a chance to write up, though.

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

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17 Mar 2019 20:25 - 17 Mar 2019 20:44 #74811 by Smurfatefrog
Replied by Smurfatefrog on topic Mini Hike Reports
At 18:30 on Friday 8 February five of us set off from Cathedral Peak hotel, Nolan, Sean, Tammy, Kirsty and myself.

There had been plenty of rain during the week, and a storm earlier that afternoon so we expected to have water everywhere!
Our first encounter was the Mlambonja river, I'd only ever just casually walked across it but this time was rather different.
It really didn't look too bad, so we took our shoes off and thought we'd just walk across, but once getting about halfway it got almost waist deep and was flowing really strongly. There were 3 different sections we managed to get halfway only to be met by raging water.

Not being keen to take any risks in fading light we headed down to the golf course and bundu bashed through thorns for 100m before getting to the road which turned into a path and took us right to the path heading up.
We had drizzle part of the way but with about 1km to go to Sherman's cave a storm threatened and the rain got quite heavy, but we got there safely enough.
A 4km night hike turned into 7km with the detour.

The next morning was perfect weather!


We filled up with water just above Sherman's but I had a feeling we wouldn't have any water issues 

 

The spring heading to Cathedral Peak was strong and the river coming down off the peak was flowing from about 2600m

Buggers Gully was very loose after the rains, this is the view of it from the escarpment side with a hiker circled for reference


Bell cave and annex in the centre of the pic
 

Another pic with hikers for reference


This is probably the worst section of the trail, there are good hand and foot holds, and you could always drop down about 30m altitude and walk below it




The section just before Twins cave, a bit exposed but not dangerous

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Last edit: 17 Mar 2019 20:44 by Smurfatefrog.

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17 Mar 2019 20:36 - 17 Mar 2019 20:47 #74812 by Smurfatefrog
Replied by Smurfatefrog on topic Mini Hike Reports
Lunch at Twins Cave


There were various little streams coming down and solid drips at Bell and Twins Cave
We then made our way up Mlambonja Pass, we used the alternate summit gully north of the main summit. There is a surprisingly big cairn there despite no path, but its a simple grassy gully and makes much more sense if heading north.

We encountered 2 Basothos on the way to Easter Cave, they were just sitting around with a clear view of Easter Cave, so we waited for a bit at the top of Christmas Pass but they weren't moving so we went to the cave. Never saw them again though.

Kirsty and I headed up Easter Peak, we tried a few routes up that were basically rock climbing but I knew there was an easy way up somewhere, which is on the north side. It feels like a proper peak with drop offs all around!

We arrived back at the cave to find some very stiff cups of whisky poured for us!
 
I won't say too much about the rest of the night, but it did include another handstand challenge


View the next morning


Looking back to Easter Peak


We had thought about heading down Cockade Pass but were not feeling as fresh as we could've been so went down Mlambonja.

It really dragged and felt like it took forever!


Great weekend in the berg, finished off with burger and beers at the hotel!

Note regarding water: Kirsty did the Bell Traverse again on 7 March and said it was dry, so don't take this report as the current or normal situation.

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Last edit: 17 Mar 2019 20:47 by Smurfatefrog.

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20 Mar 2019 14:08 - 20 Mar 2019 14:22 #74824 by bergbees
Replied by bergbees on topic Mini Hike Reports
Mission: Quick Mini Traverse Report - Sentinel CP -> Cathederal Hotel
Route: Up Chain Ladders -> Mix Escarpment & GT Record Route -> Down Mlambonja Pass
Date: 14-17 March 2019

5 of us set out to test our GT readiness and push some distance with normal packs & tents.

Day 1- 15km: SCP-Icidi
We started out late from SCP at 13h00 because we needed to drop a car at CPH and one of our party forgot to pack a hat! So we stoped at the Shopping center in Phuthadichaba to find a hat!
Road to SCP is deteriorated since I last been there lots of rocky sections in the road that you need good clearance for and a at least AWD to get back.
We met 2x Armed (Galil's Isreali R4) LDF guys at the bottom of the Chain Ladders, they where with 3x Basuto guys. LDF was friendly and spoke very good English. They have been patrolling for 6 months they said they get choppered in and their camp was in a valley 500m - 900 to the NW of the Ladders, north of Mount Aux-S.  We gave them KitKats that we specially packed for this type of encounter. Non of us smoke, but they did ask. 
Once on top we basically headed straight for Icidi and got there around 18h00 and setup camp on the ridge just before the Icidi Buttress, with thunder and lighting starting, we had a bit of rain later that night but nothing too heavy. We did have a single huge Lightning Strike so close to us that we first heard a "Click" in our tent and a weird red spark showed for a moment inside the tent! I had my headlamp hanging from the roof and I initially thought it Blew!  Instantly Romy and I ducked and the thunder clap felt like it was around the tent! I have never felt lighting and thunder like that before and we decided to eat chocolates, and fall asleep! Rest of the night was uneventful.

Day 2 - 25km: Icidi - Koakoatsi river valley (Close to North Peak / Nquza Pass)
07h00 Headed along the escarpment past Madonna (We spotted 2x Mountain ReedBuck there) and Fangs had lunch somewhere near Pins. We then headed out on the Mnweni highway and took the GT Record Route options that heads into Lesoto, at the point just before you would round left to wards the Mnweni pass.  We followed the route and it must be said that the berg this time of year has more livestock than what I have ever seen. Basically the entire route from the ladders to the top of Mlmbonja we encountered Sheep, Goats, Cows, Donkies, Horses and Dogs!  The GT RR took us close to 3 Kraals with Herders and livestock we had no encounter with them as we kept moving through the area.  We moved up the dog leg Koakoatsi river valley that basically comes out by North Peak / Nquza pass. 18h20 We camped there for the night with the sound of cow and sheep bells fading into the sunset.

Day 3 - 27km: Koakoatsi river valley (Close to North Peak / Nquza Pass) to CPH via Mlambonja
06h40 We got going heading out the Koakoatsi valley to the right and up the Ridge that heads in a an almost direct line to  Ntonjelana Pass / Easter Cave. We crossed the Saddle on the Ntonjelana Ridge on the GTRR path and headed to the escarpment staying high to get to Mlambonja. 

LDF round 2 
We took a break between Easter Cave and the pass and met 2x Armed LDF guys again on patrol in the Mlamponja Area camping in Kwakawtsi valley deeper into Lesoto.  They where not as friendly as the ones we met on Day 1 and spoke more broken English an Older pair than the first 2. My take on these situations is to lead with a gift, so a friendly greeting and 2x KitKat bars, handed to each LDF guy personally. I hand the chocolate while holding it in two hands stating that it is a token of friendship and then shake their hand in introduction.  They usually break out in a broad smile and I believe it has a disarming effect. It is a very poor human who will still look for trouble after been given an unsolicited gift. We spoke about why we climb the mountains and the older of the two, mentioned that he is jealous, i struggled to figure out the context. But I think it was related to the fact that as South Africans entering Lesoto via the berg we dont contribute anything to Lesoto even though we take enjoyment form out of their country.  I stated that we comply with all the regulations imposed on us from the ZAR side and that I believe the officials responsible have to negotiate at a higher level on how tourism is accounted for in this area.

He then started a line of questioning that sounded like we needed to offer up some equipment to them, stating to us that we will sleep in the hotel tonight. I think we wanted tents or sleeping bags from us. I quickly countered that we will be camping and needed all out equipment to survive a night in the berg.  I actually said to him "You wont want us to die out there tonight, do you? He just laughed wanted to know our address in JHB. We gave him a website with one of our organisations details and parted ways without further incident.

It was my first encounter with LDF in the berg and we had 2.  I suspect that cattle rustling / smuggling is a key actions they are checking for. Based on other VE threads this is happening more and more.

Back to the hike, we headed down Mlambonja pass at 10h45 and started the long trek to CPH. We actually then did meet with a mixed bunch of Basuto/Zulu guys who where coming up the pass, just as you climb that ugly little scramble out to the contour path. The Zulu guy was distraught as he was looking for his cattle and the one heffer was pregnant. So clear evidence of livestock theft. Not sure if the cows where driven up Mlambonja pass though.

We were quite tired by then and the last 7km from Neptunes Pools to CPH was a bit of a slog  but we made it to the carpark by 18h00. Drove to Amphitheater Backpackers in the rain and where the smelliest bunch in the dinning room that night! As we could not shower in time before the kitchen closed!

All in all it was a great hike 67km-70km in 2.5 days is not slow. 

GPS Notes:
I also tested the Drakensberg GPS map AndrewP make on my Garmin watch (fenix5x) and it worked like a bomb holding 50% battery after 10-11 hours hiking with GPS in full mode not Ultratac. Using a Battery pack you can run that Fenix GPS for days. Also used Gaia on my iPhone and that worked well too for when i needed to see a bigger screen. I did not take out my paper maps once. (though i will always pack them.)
Uploaded the  SuperTraverse track and the GT Record track (Thanks to those who shared) and basically just used that to route us. not sticking to it too closely but if we had mist it would have been invaluable.

Pictures: Need to sort and upload

But checkout some pics on my wife's instagram: romy_romes_






   
Last edit: 20 Mar 2019 14:22 by bergbees.
The following user(s) said Thank You: elinda, Andreas, Christinejvr

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Yesterday 09:39 - Yesterday 09:40 #74827 by firephish
Replied by firephish on topic Mini Hike Reports

bergbees wrote: We gave them KitKats that we specially packed for this type of encounter. Non of us smoke, but they did ask.  


Good idea to always carry a pack of cigarettes when hiking in Lesotho (even if you don't smoke). cigarettes are highly appreciated by the basotho, and less impact in terms of litter (wrappers are just thrown where opened).

Also, seems more dignified than offering grown men sweets (to me anyway). 
Last edit: Yesterday 09:40 by firephish.

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