Ifidi Rockeries August 2023

20 Oct 2023 15:10 - 20 Oct 2023 15:20 #78768 by Riaang
I’ve been up Ifidi a few times before, and it’s never been easy to get to the top in a day. The best we could do was top out at sunset, but often it was later. It was time for a change of pace. Seeing that we had 5 days in the mountains this time, we could afford to take our time and have a relaxing hike for a change. We therefore decided to sleep over at Cycad cave on day 1, and push for the escarpment on day 2. We usually leave Gauteng at around 3am, but on this fresh Monday morning we only hit the N3 at 4H15am. We had an uneventful journey down to MCC, and started towards the cave by 10H45. It was clearly going to be a hot day in the lower berg and we applied sunscreen liberally. There are a variety of routes you can follow to the cave, and having done both the lower routes (sticking to the river section) and the higher routes before (staying as high as possible), this time we opted for a hybrid approach. Stay high but stick to the tracks as far as possible. The river section is typically hot and overgrown, it can even be challenging in winter sometimes. Of all the options I think I prefer our latest route selection, but I am going to make a further slight adjustment to the final approach to the cave next time. There is now a wire fence close to the cave, and it covers the entire valley section. This thing is quite high and difficult to get over with a backpack on your back, as your balance is off. I should have taken the backpack off, but foolishly didn’t. As I swung my foot over the fence, my boot caught the top horizontal pole and tripped me up. I put my left hand out to stabilize myself, but in the process managed to tear my Fenix’s wrist strap in half. Bummer, now I’ll be out of information for the duration of the hike. Funnily this turned into a blessing as I had more time to focus on the surrounding area than at my watch the whole time. Anyway, I very nearly face-planted as I went over the fence but managed to grab onto one of the wires. I basically tumbled over but landed in a crouched position, with some of the “doringdraad” pointy bits tearing my arm protector on my left arm and cutting across my biceps. Not quite what I had planned for day 1! But fortunately no broken bones, just a bit of blood loss. Sanet was quick to hand me some antiseptics and when the blood stopped flowing we taped the cut up. From here we dropped down to the river and switched over to the left-hand side as you approach the cave via the footpath. It was hot. Even with the heat, it was good to be back in the berg. I’ll take the heat over rainy weather any day. It was our first time sleeping over at Cycad cave, so we took our time scouting out the area. This is one of the benefits of a leisurely hike – you have time to look around and explore a bit. For those of you that don’t know, Cycad cave has a very low roofline. It was a MISSION to get in and out from under the overhang, and somebody had made a fire right at the most convenient entrance point, so in order to skirt around the ashes and get in from the sides I had to enter the cave with a sort of side plank position. Being tall has its advantages, but not at this cave. I reminded myself that if I had to go outside tonight, I should remember not to sit up straight! Sanet decided to go down to the river for a cleanup session, so I started unpacking and getting our sleeping arrangements sorted out. As we were only 3 people, and the cave could very comfortably sleep 8 or more, we could really afford to be picky and so we selected a relatively flat section of the cave, covered with straw, as our sleeping spot for the night. We gave Sanet quite some time to wash up, and after sitting for a while I told Ian we should go down as well. As we descended towards the river I thought I heard her calling my name and, yes, there it was again, she was definitely calling me. I hurried to get down as there was an urgency to her tone of voice. Dropping over the very steep side wall of the river, I could hear her clearly. She was stuck in a tree! How on earth did that happen?! Turns out she took the steepest line down to the water, and got herself into a spot where she couldn’t get down, or back up again. I left my clothes bag with her, swung down the branch and got down to the river. Next she handed me all our gear, and then I guided her down as well. Ian also came down this rather dodgy section. It was super nice to be able to cool down in the icy berg water. We spent quite a bit of time here, before making our way back up to the cave. I managed to get up the same way I came down, but the two shorter people had to walk out till they found an exit point more suited to their physiology.It was time for dinner. A while back I decided to simplify my berg meals. Dinner now consists of Woolies 6-month matured cheese with Salticracks and salami sticks. First I’ll have a nice cup of soup, then dinner, followed by a mug of hot chocolate or ginger tea (those powder type teas, think it’s called Eve’s or something). For this hike I was carrying a 900g block of cheese, and Sanet wasn’t too interested in it. I usually carry her food, and seeing that this was a 5 day trip my pack was weighed down with a veritable stockpile of kilojoules. Not sure if it was the heat, or overexertion, but she was simply not hungry. I like cheese, but 200g of cheese for dinner was a bit much for me. Think I managed 150g or so – I felt I made a good effort at reducing the weight of the foodbag without Sanet’s help. Whatever I don’t eat today I have to carry up Ifidi pass tomorrow! We finished dinner, made a bit of small talk and then literally crawled into our sleeping bags – there was no other way of getting into them!

 
 
 
 
 


Day 2:
I was up before either my alarm went off or the sun arose in the east. Going to bed so early the night before meant that I spent more time in bed than usual, and my body wasn’t too impressed with lying for that long on a 20mm thick, or maybe I should say thin mattress. Thankfully I remembered to turn on my side to get out of my sleeing bag. Headbump avoided! It was nice to be able to stand upright and stretch out a bit. Today was going to be a fun day. I’ve always enjoyed Ifidi pass, especially the top sections. Sanet and myself have a routine we follow in the berg that works for us – I prepare breakfast while she starts to pack up everything. I lit the stove and made us coffee. Our local Spar sells really delicious rusks, and I had packed a 1kg bag of these for breakfast. 4 for me, 3 for Sanet per day. I like rusks as they are easy to digest and provides a lot of energy. Nothing worse than starting a climb with a stomach full of heavy, undigested food. The trail starts just below the cave where it takes you through an amazing forest. You could be forgiven for thinking that you are on the Otter trail. After about 250m or so, you exit the forest as you cross a stream, and then you are supposed to go through a narrow section to the left that leads into the river valley. Sanet decided that no, we had to see if there was a way around this section, so she marched us the hill on a game path over some really steep and loose terrain. I told her no, this route is going nowhere and we needed to go back to the starting point. She felt that I needed to climb still a bit higher to a spot where I should be able to see the terrain better. I obliged, knowing that we were on a hiding to nothing with this route. If she wanted to go up, who was I to argue. She eventually conceded defeat and we slid down the steep, wet, grassy path back to the river.Well, now that we are all nicely warmed up I guess we could start the hike proper? We found the correct track and proceeded up the river gully. Maybe 1km or so from here, just as the sunlight caught us, we found a path that took us out of the riverbed and up the side slopes on the left-hand bank (true right-hand side). It looked fairly well used, but I’ve never seen it before. On previous occasions we’ve hiked mainly in the riverbed, and every now and then we’d hop onto one of the side banks for a while, before getting back into the riverbed again. Walking on these banks meant that you could walk in more of a straight line, as following the snaking riverbed added a bit of distance to your journey. This new route was different though. It went out on the sideslope, and continued climbing. We were moving towards the pass itself, but simultaneously moving further and further away from the riverbed. Fortunately we had enough water to get us to the top of the pass, but my concern on this new path was getting back into the river gully. There were steep and loose side slopes from what I could remember from previous hikes, and you don’t want to get cliffed-out, or should I say river-sidewalled-out near the start of the pass proper. After the floods from 2022 the riverbed section was completely rearranged, and it seemed to be much easier to traverse from what I remembered. We could have stayed in the riverbed, but I wanted to see where this higher path leads as it would be a viable alternative for when the riverbed becomes overgrown again. There are a couple of spots where the path disappears, but if you follow the general trajectory of the path you can pick it up fairly easily again.  It’s only near the pass proper where it either disappeared completely, or we got off it by mistake. We eyeballed the easiest route to intersect higher up with the riverbed, and eventually found a very easy intersection spot. However, to get there we had to cross this one really dodgy section. Short, but you don’t want to slip and slide here. Would have been easier if there were grasses to hold onto, but these were unfortunately burned off by a recent fire. We found a lunch spot near the pinnacles and was thankful to be back in the shade again. Lunch consisted of cheese and Salticracks. I had a deficit to make up, and once again Sanet just nibbled on the cheese. Gheez, we’ve barely made a dent into the cheese brick, and the climb was now straight ahead. Unfortunately Ian also carried a lot of cheese, so he was not going to be any help in reducing my cheese weight today. The boulders were starting to increase in size, and it was definitely much colder in the pass than in the sunshine lower down. I put my gloves on as my fingers were starting to freeze. Ian and Sanet stuck it out for maybe another 200 meters before we had to stop so they could also get gloved. As the incline increased, our pace decreased. I didn’t mind though, as our end destination was directly above us, but still many minutes away. The only problem with walking too slowly was that I would cool down too much, so I had to keep the troops moving. I forgot about the false top. It got me again. Still, I knew we were close to the top of Ifidi pass, but first we had to conquer a few scrambling sections. I’ve always enjoyed the scrambles in Ifidi. Not too difficult, but not to be sneered at either. Today we had to contend with wet and iced-up rock, which definitely spiced things up a bit. I always carry 20m of paracord to hoist packs with, and it once again came in handy. I went up first, found a relatively secure anchor spot, tossed the one end of the rope down and waited for the packs to be attached to the rope. With all the iced-up rocks it was a bit difficult to walk around safely, and finding a spot for 3 backpack above me from where they, and 3 pairs of hiking poles wouldn’t slide down was a challenge, but I succeeded nonetheless. Amazing how much time such an obstacle can add to your journey. And we were only 3 hikers. Any more and we would have had to do it in tranches. Anyway, it was fun and we got up obstacle number one. Obstacle 2 was higher and more involved, and was littered with thick stalactites that had shattered on the rocks around us. These icicles were nearly 35cm thick, and I was in no mood of being smacked in the head by one of these. Every now and then I glanced up to see if the rest were still safely secured to the cliff walls above us. Same story as with obstacle 1, except that it was wetter and more slippery. I eventually had to climb around the big rock above us and descend halfway down its side but further away from the entry point to find a secure spot to stand upon. It was wet, but sloped upwards at one spot, so affording me a decent foothold from where I could hoist the packs. However, it was even steeper above me than before, and wetter, so I had to climb a bit higher with every backpack I carried up. My backpack was still very heavy, and I had to pull it over the rocks as I couldn’t carry it up on the wet rock. It got quite involved at this spot to try and not get tangled up between the backpack straps and hiking poles. Anyway, I pulled the rest of the gang up, they collected their packs and poles and I could follow behind. The last section after the (bugger!) false pass wasn’t too bad. It was still steep but now more grassy and open. I got to the top, dropped my pack, ate a Snickers bar and then walked back down the pass a bit to take a few photos of Sanet and Ian topping out. Nearly broke my leg as I stepped into a grass covered ditch! Darn, that was sore as I had hyperextended my left leg. I warned Ian of the ditch, and he tried to avoid it but stepped into a similar ditch just off to the side of my spot. Fortunately he was ok, and we all sat down for a few minutes to recover from the effort and appreciate the view from the top. Once we got our heartrates down below 60bpm we set off towards the Eastern Buttress to find water. Found it relatively close to the top of the pass. The quality was ok, but I always add water purification drops on the escarpment as there are enough animals around to pollute the water. From here we walked up to the base of Ifidi ridge, found the large cairn near the spot where you drop off the edge of the steps on your way towards Ifidi cave. Ian’s never been here before, so he really appreciated the views. We made our way to Ifidi cave and seeing that we were once again the only residents for the night, could pick and choose where we wanted to sleep. This is one of my favourite caves in the berg, and the views from here is superb. We cleaned up, put our down jackets on (a rather cold wind started to blow) and got down to making dinner. Cheese anyone? Sanet was still feeling nauseous so I had to tackle another 200g piece of cheese on my own. I love cheese, but that much of it with fatty salami is a bit rich. Still, I’m no quitter and I managed to eat both of our portions. Boy, was I stuffed! Oh, I still had to eat a packet of NickNacs as well, so had to wait till after dinner to find room to store those calories. I think we only dozed off at around 9pm, so I could afford to sleep in a bit tomorrow.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Last edit: 20 Oct 2023 15:20 by Riaang.
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20 Oct 2023 15:25 #78769 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Ifidi Rockeries August 2023
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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20 Oct 2023 15:27 #78770 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Ifidi Rockeries August 2023
Day 3:
I once again woke up before sunrise. But stayed in bed. It was ffffrrrrreeeezzzziiiinnnngggg cold this morning. The only thing that will get me out of bed early today is my bladder, and fortunately it was behaving. The other two also woke up and we took amazing sunrise photos. These moments when the sunlight changes from deep purple to pink, then into orange is so special. You have a small window where the light is just perfect, before the sun pops over the horizon. This morning I nailed the timing. Today we only have to hike to Fangs cave, so it should be a very relaxing day. I’m actually starting to enjoy this relaxing hiking thing. By now I was getting into the swing of things, and the slow rhythm had started to grow on me. I get out of my sleeping bag, and by now you know the morning routine. Coffee, rusks, pack the bag, hoist bag onto shoulders and hit a hill. Why can’t we just start with a nice, gentle warmup for a change? I guess that’s mountains for you. We hop over Ifidi ridge and head south towards the northern side of Icidi pass. There’s this one spot where you can look down into its belly, and I wanted to show Ian this spot as he’s never been here before. We get there before long – this was our nice, gently sloping warmup section. We drop our packs and just enjoy the iced-up walls of Icidi pass. So beautiful. Well, from here we have to walk around the koppie on its northern side, where we meet up with a rather large troop of baboons. It always amazes me how fast they can move over the rock-strewn mountainous terrain. Upon arrival at the pass head we have a quick look down the pass itself – jip, it’s as steep as I remember it to be from last time when I was looking for a non-existent cave at around 2600m asl. Sanet decides to wait for us here while Ian and myself go up to inspect the real Ifidi cave. Somebody’s made it nice since I’ve been here a few years ago. There is now definitely more sleeping space available and a small rock wall has been constructed. Next time I can leave the tent!

We decend to where Sanet was waiting and walk across to the waterfall and picnic area just 200m inland. On our previous hike here (the infamous supposedly easy Christmas hike) the waterfall was flowing and you could take a nice shower, but not today. Nope, that piece of ice at the bottom of the waterfall was sending strong signals of “no showers today”. We hiked around the sharp dip in the terrain ( some of us are clearly not as fit as they would have liked to be) and decide to have our second breakfast at the stream above the waterfall. Truly relaxing spot. It took us a while to get going again – I mean, we only have to make it to Fangs cave today. We hike up the sloping hill – It kind of reminded me of the approach up Cleft Peak as you walk up it when going in a southernly direction. Long, gradual incline that just keeps going forever. We didn’t bother with filling our water containers when we left the waterfall as we knew snowmelt would provide us with water at every valley. This didn’t make much of a difference to my pack weight as I was still carrying a lot of excess food – Sanet was still not eating enough. I told her that next time she was carrying her own foodbag. Either the threat worked, or she was over whatever was dampening her appetite, but from around noon she started to develop an appetite again. Cheese, Sanet?

Up and down we go over the ridges, and before long we find ourselves at the final ridge before Mbundini pass. There’s water, but Ian though he had spotted a pool higher up, so we forego the river and start hunting for the pool. Mmmhh, now where on earth could it be? We were basically out of water at this point and knew that this would be our last spot for filling up with enough water that will last us till breakfast tomorrow, hence the desire to find water higher up. Alas, we couldn’t find the pond, but as we started backtracking to the river we saw it off to our left. Turns out to not be very nice, so we had to backtrack to the stream. Ah well, what’s an extra few hundred wasted meters between friends? I’ve led them on numerous “interesting” deviations many times before, so I knew to keep quiet!

We take a long break, and I made sure I fed Sanet a lot of food – by now she was like 1.5kg’s behind. Once again we tackle the ridge but this time with with full stomacks and an additional 3L of H20. I could feel this weight, make no mistake about it. We’ve never been to Skylight cave and was thinking of stopping here and checking out the cave, but somehow we read the GPS wrong and walked past it. By the time we were 100m past it, on the way to Fangs pass, I took another reading and realized our mistake. The wind had picked up considerably and Ian was too far ahead to hear me call him, so we canned the cave finding idea and hustled to regroup. Rather than drop down the pass and then hike back up to Fangs cave, we decided to find the top of the gully in which the cave was situated and just descend down it. Clever idea I thought. Problem was, I wasn’t sure which gully was the correct one! I’ve done it once before, in thick mist, and didn’t upload that track. I had the cave saved as a waypoint, which wasn’t much help now. Not when the gullies are like 30m apart at the top. I distinctly remember that there was a small rock section we had to upclimb the last time we ascended this gully, and the gully I was now looking down didn’t have this feature. It did however have the trianglar shaped rock at the bottom of the gully, which I knew indicated the exit gully on Fangs pass. Problem was, it didn’t look quite like how I remembered it to be, I could only see a portion of it. Last time was in thick fog, so that also obscured visibility a bit. Was I at the top of the correct cully? If I get it wrong, that would mean we would have to drop down into the pass and then approach from below. Oh well, what’s a few extra meters of climbing at the end of the day. We chatted about the gully and agreed that we were reasonably sure that it was the correct one. Not one to waste time, I took the lead and dropped down the gully.

So far so good. It was looking vaguely familiar, and I knew that, after dropping nearly 200m asl we should get to the point where the cave was just outside of our view to the right. The steps down this gully was a bit larger than what I remembered. I had to stretch a bit to reach the bottom of the grasses, and Ian and Sanet was falling behind. Strange, I thought to myself. What was even stranger was that I didn’t remember it taking me this long to get to the cave on the previous occasion. Surely it wasn’t this far down? I mean, I had lost nearly 250m asl already, and then I saw it. I was standing directly above a near vertical drop of around 4m high. It was the wrong gully. Bugger!!! I turned around and shouted to Ian and Sanet to stop. They stabalised themselves and asked if I was sure. Jip, I was very sure. No ways we climbed up this section before. Bugger!!! Now we have to get back up this gully, and it was steep! And my pack was heavy! I soon passed the others – being tall in this terrain was definitely helpful– and made for the top. I wasn’t sure if we had to go further south at the top, or North. Ian got it right. It was North. And would you know it, there was even a nice cairn or two at the correct gully. Just shows you, never be blasé in the berg, as you will pay for your mistakes with lots of sweat. I saw the rock section at the top and from here could clearly see the triangular rock formation on the opposite side of this gully where it intersects with Fangs pass. It didn’t take too long to get down the correct gully. The terrain was much easier, but the gradient was still steep. I got to the cave and signaled to the other two that I was at the cave. There was still an icy wind blowing, and I decided to wipe off and clean up while I was still warm. It felt nice to be able to get the 20kg’s of weight off my tired shoulders. Now that I am clean and warm, I could start with dinner.

I like to start with a warm soup. It assists in heating my core, hydrates me and puts some salt in my body. After a nice cup of soup, I decided to have another one, seeing that I was carrying a spare packet. Now onto the main course – cheese and Salticracks. I still had about 600g of the brick left and decided that tonight I’m going to make a concerted effort to make decent inroads into this thing. It certainly helped that both Sanet and myself were hungry. After cheese I had some more salami sticks, and as I scratched around in my foodbag I found a nice surprise – I had a few Woolies samoosas left! These things are so irradiated and filled with preservatives that I wasn’t worried for even a second that they would be off. I wasn’t disappointed and was even happy when Sanet said I could have hers as well. I scratched some more and found a nut butter sachet – macadamia and honey if I remember correctly. I scratched around some more and found a packet of crisps as well. More preservatives to keep me alive in the mountains! Ian gave me some of his chocolates, which wetted my appetite for Sanet’s snicker bar. No, she had no problem with me eating this either. Finally it was time for the highlight of the evening meal – a Nomu hot chocolate sachet. These things are really rich and decadent – perfect for the mountains. And no, Sanet was not sharing hers with me. We watched the sun paint the rocks in various amber and pink shades, until all that was left was the darkness which surrounded us. That, and the peace and quiet I can only seem to find in the mountains. The wind had subsided and the silence was palpable. We chatted a bit, went for a quick wee-we and crawled into our sleeping bags.


 
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20 Oct 2023 15:29 #78771 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Ifidi Rockeries August 2023
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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20 Oct 2023 15:29 #78772 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Ifidi Rockeries August 2023
 
 
 

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20 Oct 2023 15:32 #78773 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Ifidi Rockeries August 2023
Day 4:
I did not wake before sunrise this morning. The effort of digesting the mountain of food I had consumed last night had left its mark on me. In any case, today was supposed to be a super easy day. All we had to do was make our way around the Mnweni cutback and then find Mponjwane cave. In all my years in the berg I’ve never been to this cave. Ledgers cave is easier to get to and has a superb view, but seeing that this was a hike where we were exploring new routes, Mponjwane cave was definitely on the radar. I started the stove and two minutes later we were enjoying a nice cup of coffee with a few rusks. I was very happy to see that Sanet was having all three of her allotted rusks this morning. After packing up the obligatory steep climb followed, and in no time we were standing on the escarpment again. A couple of times we would get off the path and have a quick look over the ridgeline on our left. The Pins needles were looking sharp as always, and we could see Mponjwane in the distance. The path made for easy and fast walking, and it wasn’t long before we rounded the cutback and started to drop down the ridgeline and aimed for the valley floor. It wasn’t marshy this time, which made walking easy. The weather today was the complete opposite of the day before. It was hot, and there was hardly a breeze blowing. It never ceases to amaze me how the weather in the mountains can differ from day to day. I remember one December hike in this same area where we had 39 degrees going up the Ifidi valley, only to nearly freeze in Easter cave 2 days later. Which is why I carry nearly identical gear year-round in the berg.

We exited the valley and started heading upwards to the source of the Senque river. There was more than enough water and we filled our bladders and bottles to the brim. Ian couldn’t quite remember where the path goes up the koppie to the cave, but he remembered following cairns from the top of Rockeries pass from a previous hike many years ago. As we approached the top of Rockeries I noticed a path higher and to the left going through the rock bands, and suspected that this was where we had to go. We took Ian’s route – one incorrect gully per hike is the maximum allowed – and soon met up with the path I saw from below. Lots of cairns here, so we were definitely on the right track. I was a bit surprised by the steepness and height of the climb to get to the cave. If I remember correctly it was nearly a 75m asl climb to where the path starts to flatten out. A chilly wind had appeared out of nowhere and we had to keep the momentum going to stay warm. In no time we topped out and rounded the corner. The views down south were amazing. We had the cave to ourselves and could, once again, afford a gear explosion. I found a sunny spot and proceeded to wipe off all the dust and sweat I could find. The wind had died down all of a sudden, and, same as last night, it was suddenly super quiet around us. Till the two helicopters appeared. They were busy in the valley below, but had now flown up and the one flew directly over our heads. I waved at the pilot, but it didn’t seem that he had seen us. I found that rather remarkable, as my winter skin was so white that you had to put sunglasses on if you wanted to look in my direction. He must have been wearing Oakleys. Anyway, we chillaxed on the grass in front of the cave and just absorbed as much of nature as we could. Sanet told me to get out of the sun as I was absorbing a bit too much nature. She wanted to do some absorbing as well! The rest of the afternoon went by slowly – we had arrived at the cave pretty early – and the sun eventually set in the west. Wow, the view from up here towards the south was spectacular, especially how the sunlight painted North peak. That thing is humongous! Definitely time to go do Nguza pass again. And so we repeated the dinner procedure form the previous nights and eventually climbed into our sleeping bags.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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20 Oct 2023 15:33 #78774 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Ifidi Rockeries August 2023
 
 
 
 
 

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20 Oct 2023 15:34 #78775 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Ifidi Rockeries August 2023
Day 5:
It was hard to think that we had already spent 4 full days in the mountains. On a typical long weekend hike we would already have put in a days work after returning from the berg, yet here we were, still on the escarpment. It was really good to spend this much continuous time in the berg. Well, all good things eventually comes to an end, and it was once again time to face the sweetie brigade near MCC. The plan for today was to descend the mountain via Rockeries, survive the 5,5km hard dirt road and then drive back home. It was another cold morning, but since the cave was facing east, the sun’s early rays helped to warm us up. We took some more sunrise pics, made the habitual coffee and had rusks for breakfast. We were now well into the swing of things and our morning routine went like clockwork. Long before the sun was hot we hoisted our packs onto our shoulders. Wow, with only 1L of water and way less food in the bag, this thing was actually feeling pretty comfortable today. Earlier I had walked out to get some more pics and the wind around the corner was positively arctic. I donned my windblock jacket and told the other two about the freezing wind. They must have thought I was joking as they ignored my advice. As we rounded the corner to descend the koppie they quickly realized I wasn’t joking. They managed to withstand the arctic blast till about halfway down, when the fleece and arm protectors started to fail. We stopped, they put on their outer shells and life was good again. As Sir Ranulph Fiennes famously said: ”There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”.
I’ve done Rockeries pass many times before, and it was the perfect pass to end our slow paced 5 day hike. Besides being covered in loose rock and gravel, it’s a very easy pass. The grade is not too steep, the path is easy to follow and it’s relatively short. Lots of water lower down the pass so you don’t have to start with too much water weight, which is always a bonus on a downhill. When we arrived at the bottom reaches of the pass, the sun said hi. No more shade for the rest of the journey. Goodness me, how quickly and dramatically the weather changed in less than two hours! Freezing on top, hot in the valley. Soon the first huts came into view, and we were back in civilization. No matter what I do, this 5.5km dirt road is never fun. It kills your feet, and you just wish it was over sooner. I took my last sip of water as we passed the school near MCC. Timed it perfectly this time. We dropped our packs, removed our boots and enjoyed a refreshing shower at MCC before heading back to Joburg.

This slow-paced-longer-dayed-hike-thing was quite nice for a change. I can do this again! Just with less food next time.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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