Wolfberg Cracks

This page old and a repeat from 2004. It is dedicated to the people who helped me fulfill a dream. I climbed up to the Wolfberg Cracks and went through the most spectacular of all of those cracks.

Who are those people?
My sons who cajoled me, blackmailed me and helped me to do the round trip.
Who allowed me to stand on their broad, young shoulders to get through the bits I would never have achieved alone.

My ISIS colleagues and their partners who egged me on, who pulled me through, yelled at me to suck my stomach in and left me in no doubt of their support.
Thank you one and all.
Special thanx to Dave who put it all together and got it all going.

Ok, now follow me into heaven and hell!

We stayed over in the chalets below the mountain Friday night.

Saturday morning, we were up bright and early.

“An hours walk! No more. Three hours for the round trip.”

Those little slits you see at the top of the mountain. Those are Wolfberg Cracks.

After two hours serious slog on a thankfully cool morning, we reached the mouth of the narrowest and most beautiful crack. Who is the “WE”? This is US.

On the inside of the crack looking out.

And in we go. Julia doing a fancy step in the middle ground.

Mike and I taking a breather. Actually, Mike being patient, while I catch my breath.

Yes you do have to go in there and yes, the spare hand is attached to another human further in the crack.

Stepping back and looking at the thing again.

Julia going in first. I had my first SERIOUS misgivings here.

Richard emerging from the crack.

You do actually emerge in one piece. And if you are wondering, yes I did that too.

Here is Dave, he did the round trip twice!

From here on in I will let the pictures tell the tale!.

Front to back: Julia, me, Mike and Richard

Yes, it is me and I am STILL on my feet. Only just, but still on my feet.

And it gets narrower!

And more difficult. That is Fred in the the red teeshirt doing impossible things with his legs, arms and back.

Mike and Julia, posing.

Sunday Relaxation. Maalgat, cold water and huge jumps.

Save

Serendipity – A happy discovery

Serendipity (n) – a happy discovery made when searching for something else.

In this case I was looking for space on a portable disk to save a large chunk of data, so I selected a directory to delete, but being cautious, I checked what was in the sub-directories. Lo and behold, I found a bunch of photos taken 18 months ago while traveling, stored on the portable disk and somehow never transferred onto my photo store. If I had thought about it, I would have written the pictures off as being lost. Equally the kloof shown in this email came as a complete and happy surprise as well – so join on a trip up serendipity kloof in the newly opened mega-reserve of Baviaanskloof in the Eastern Cape.

A bit of background first. Amanda and I had been to the Grahamstown Festival and Amanda had to attend a workshop in the mega‑reserve which was on the way back from Grahamstown. While Amanda was busy the farmer on whose farm we were staying suggested I go up one of the blind kloofs on the farm. He told me how to find one and I set out. I was not very enthusiastic as the surrounding country was hard, thorny and, despite it being July, very hot.

The approach did not seem particularly encouraging.

Well at least there is a bit of water.

A bit more interesting! The kloof is getting narrower and narrower. Believe it or not, that is the kloof up ahead. It narrowed down to less than a metre in places.

Looking back.

There are arums all over the place.

Indigenous Mint. I was amazed to find that South Africa has its own variety of mint.

Water thunders down this kloof. You can see debris from the last heavy flood in this picture. This not a place to be during a heavy rainstorm. There is nowhere to go.

Many pools have to be waded through or climbed around. This one was climbable.

This is in the heart of the Eastern Cape Biome. The local vegetation makes the water a greenish colour. It looks strangely beautiful and tastes wonderful.

And an arty arum picture.

Trees grow out of any cranny that has some soil in it.

An otters breakfast.

The last picture requires a little explanation. The water in the kloof is extremely cold. Many of the pools are impassable except by wading and to prove that I had actually waded, I set the camera on 10 seconds delay and waded out into the middle of a small but impassable pool. The strange look on my face is because I was losing all feeling in my legs, was convinced that the brother of the crab above was munching my toes and equally convinced that time had ground to a complete, but painful halt – 10 seconds was beginning to feel like 10 hours. For reference, the water was just touching the soles of my boots. When I got back and looked at the picture I realized that, to get a correctly exposed picture I would have to set the speed and aperture of the camera and then go back and stand hip deep in the icy water again while the camera counted the seconds. As you can tell, I opted for comfort and against perfection!

Disas on Table Mountain

I climbed Table Mountain and found the red disas that endemic to table mountain. Red Disas or more accurately, Table Mountain Disas is the flower that the Western Cape sports teams use as their emblem.

Aside from nearly killing myself in the climb up, it was an amazing experience and well worth the sore legs.

The really nice thing about being in the richest floral kingdom on earth is that there are ALWAYS a number of species flowering, no matter what time of the year you go out looking. This trip was no different.

Just to give you some idea of the difference between our floral kingdom and the rest of the world, Table Mountain alone has more flowering species than the entire United Kingdom has.

Here are some of those pictures:

I went up Skeleton Gorge and you can see the steepness of the trek.

Me. I had to prove I was there and not looking too exhausted.

The top. At last! Muizenberg in the distance and False Bay in the background.

An unidentified blommie until I looked it up and lo and behold, another disa! Disa Ferruginea. Pays to do some reseach doesn’t it?

King Protea (Protea Cynoroides). The dew drops are for real. I was up there very early.

Campylostachys cernua. I was sorry I looked this one up. Blommie is so much easier to spell.

Gladiolus Monticola. I think. If you are a botanist, break it to me genly if I have gotten it wrong, but it is rather photogenic.

And here ladies and gentlemen is the star of the show. Disa Uniflora, the red disa, pride of table mountain. Take your pick. Pretty isn’t it and really worth the walk.

This guy came out to see what all the fuss was about and kindly agreed to be photographed.

More gladiolus? There were lots of them and they really look much better than the pictures make them out to be.

There were literally hundreds of disas. They are DIFFICULT to photograph. They live in dark holes surrounded by bright sunlight. Metering the camera is a nightmare and camera shake quite a common problem.

A waterfall. It had disas in it, but I couldn’t get disas and the waterfall, so just imagine disas!

He joined me for lunch.

More Disas!

This scene was so much like something from Lord of the Rings, I just had to take it. The End of the Road!

Agathapanthus Africanus. Growing wild on the Back Table.

Hely Hutchison reservoirs on the Back Table and the end of the disa route.

The way down. Nursery Ravine. And believe me it doesn’t nurse anyone!

Hikers Descending Lions Head under a New Moon

The new moon sets behind Lions Head as hikers descend from the top after watching the sunset.
moon

img_0983

During that photographic session I saw a green deep sky object. I am still battling to identify it and figure out why it is green. The red circle on the right is a hiker, the red circle on theleft is Venus, but what is the green object?

venus

Klipspringer Trail – Augrabies Falls National Park

Some friends and I walked the Klipspringer Hiking Trail in the Augrabies National Park. Rated as Moderate to Difficult, it is well worth the effort. A magnificent trail. Here are some photographs of the trail.
The sentinal, watching over the hikers

IMG_2998Looking back

IMG_3002The trail ahead.

IMG_3010

IMG_3012

Flowers

IMG_3018
Wind erosion

IMG_3014
Arrow Point

IMG_3021

IMG_3024
Arrow Point again

IMG_3030
Fish Eagle Hut – end of Day 1

IMG_3033
Cooking fire

IMG_3047
Day 2 — Down to the Orange River. Probably the hardest part of the trip, but certainly the most beautiful

IMG_3061
The trail ahead.

IMG_3066
And more trail ahead.

IMG_3067
The Orange / Gariep River in its gentle phase.

IMG_3071

Leopard foot print (spoor).

IMG_3073

Follow the river.

IMG_3080 reflections IMG_3084 IMG_3085 orange1

Turning point. Turn away from the river and back into the heat.

turningPoint

The hot river bed.

IMG_3103

 

IMG_3105

Berghut and the end of the second day.

berghut

IMG_3117

Day Three
Looking back on the Swart Rante (Black Ridges)

IMG_3136
Quiver Tree and a sociable weavers nest.

IMG_3152

IMG_3157

IMG_3163
Moon Rock. Nearly the end of the trail.

IMG_3170

If you like trail and a challenge, this one is for you.

 

Save

Save

Greyton McGregor Hike

With some friends, I did the Greyton McGregor hike. It was incredibly beautiful and incredibly hot. Join me in a short trip up the Riviersonderned Mountains.

The group.

group

Here I am looking fresh and enthusiastic.

richardBoesmansKloof

Greyton in the distance

IMG_1602

The paths are good, but narrow.

IMG_1582

The Waterfall from above. You can see people walking the ridge above the waterfall.

Waterfall2

Waterfall3

Waterfall1

Strata along the historic trail. The layer in front of the lady is a 2 cm thick ash layer, laid down millions of years ago during an enormous volcanic eruption.

IMG_1638Unidentified plants. Strange but beautiful

4RupertThe end point

IMG_1606

Flower along the route.

IMG_1605

IMG_1599

A black eagle. It was at least 500 m away and so the picture is pixilated, but it is a huge creature.

blackEagle

There is a video of the waterfall on YouTube: