First Ascent Helio tent

So I’ve always been a fan of First Ascent gear, from their clothing to their sleeping bags however with them going into back packs and tents I must admit I had some reservations. On their back packs I cannot comment much as I don’t have any of them; however I do have some of their tents. I have read some reviews on the tent range and people were in two minds about them, I only have good experiences with the ones I have and to me the Lunar is quite bombproof and value for money and quite water proof.

I saw the new Helio tent and after actually seeing the size and weight I was very impressed by it and made an investment in one. It claims to be the same size of a sleeping bag, well it is, not that I could ever get it folded quite as small as the original packaged tent. I was also impressed with the thickness of the ground sheet – slightly thicker that will defiantly be a lot more hard wearing than some of the other light weight tents I own, pity that I did not see a food print being available as this would prolong its live and if designed correctly it might just be able to pitch it fly first. This is a function I like from the MSR range especially in wet weather.

Now I’ve been able to test the tent in some Drakensberg weather, an 18 hour constant rain in the Cathedral Peak area and freezing cold and ice on the escarpment on a recent 5 day mini traverse and I just need to test in a typical berg wind storm. I am sure it would stand as it’s quite low and if pitched correctly the 6 guy lines should keep it well secured to mother earth. I did notice that the tent pegs is also a y design however a little bit shorter than the first pegs, most probably to save weight, how it will do in a heavy wind pulling on them will be interesting to see as, so far they held fast pretty well.

Pitching the tent is very easy with just one 8,5mm aluminium pole that pushes into the tent corners into grommets and fastens with clips to the tent and then line up the tent fly sheet and pull the fly sheet tight and secure with the guy lines and stake out the vestibule. The fly sheet also fastens with the use of grommets onto the tent poles – making me think that with a suitable food print you could use it as either a super light tent set up or enable you to pitch fly first in rainy condition. Hopefully First Ascent reads my post and with their next upgrade to this model adds a food print in. What I like about the tent is that the side’s pulls out with a tent peg and a guy line, this keeps the wet fly sheet away from the inner tent keeping you dry for a lot longer especially if you should roll onto the tent sides.

The tent is surprisingly roomy on the inside and I had more than enough room for all my gear and plenty of room for me to sleep, a true one man tent is just too small for you and your gear. I really enjoyed the head room at the entrance as I could pack my whole bag while inside out of the rain. The steep sides should allow snow to slide down and rain defiantly did not come through the fly sheet even after 18 hours I was still bone dry on the inside. There are two vents on the front and back helping to vent moisture out and the sides of the tent is fabric wit the top section being mesh again to help with ventilation. I had some moisture build up on the inside of the fly that harmlessly ran down again due to the fly being pulled well away from the inner tent.  The only thing I did notice was that the fly gets tied onto the tent pole by means of short fabric ties and it did look like water was dripping from them onto the tent but again not enough to cause water issues in the tent.

In all I would say it’s money well spent, it’s light at only 2.45kg, yes I know you can get lighter tents – they do come at a much higher price, you could maybe cut a few grams with changing the pegs to carbon, it folds small, I could stuff it under the lid of my Osprey and you would not know I even carried a tent. So far I can recommend it as a good tent for the Drakensberg for someone on a budget as it’s not going to break you bank balance. I cannot yet commend on its performance in strong wind however I think it should do well with what Mother Nature through at it.

The tent spec’s as from First Ascents web page:

Features

Flysheet: 210T PU Polyester – Water head: 3000mm

Inner: 68D 210T Breathable Polyester

Mesh: Fine B3 mesh

Door: mesh with window

Floor: 150D PU Oxford Polyester – Water head: 5000mm

Pole: 8.5mm Aluminium dual hub pole

Pegs: 16mm Aluminium with reflective cord

Guy ropes: Reflective ropes

Includes Repair Kit

Enlarged awning to store gear and shelter from wind

Specifications

Weight (Kg) 2.45

Best Use Camping, Hiking, Multi Day Hiking

Packed Size 39×15 Cm

Height 110cm

Dimensions (80+210) *139/119*110cm

Doors 1

Flysheet Water Column 3000 Mm

Floor Water Column 5000mm

Guy Ropes Yes

Guy Ropes Type Reflective Ropes

Peg Type Aluminium

Pole Type Aluminium

The Northern Berg Traverse

The iconic Northern Traverse is a 5 day hike for the fit and the adventurous, it follows the Drakensberg escarpment starting at Witsieshoek all the way to Cathedral Peak, where you would go down Mlabonja Pass or the scenic Bell Traverse.

The weather for the next couple of days look sunny and warm and the outlook for the rest of the trip looked positive and we were looking forward to a good weather window for the trip. The walk up on the newly renovated zig zags were easy and we passed quite a few hikers that were planning to sleep on the top tonight including loads of day walkers, most of them would only visit the Tugela Falls before returning back to the car park. Before long we reached the contour path leading to the famous chain ladders. Using the chain ladders is the easiest way to reach the escarpment however if you don’t have the head for heights, you can use the Beacon Buttress Gully to access the escarpment. We were not intimidated by the ladders and soon made our way up to the top topping out on the escarpment overlooking the QwaQwa valley and car park way below us. The Elands River was flowing and we were hoping for a good supply of water on the escarpment as we were still experiencing a bit of a dry year even though we did have some rain and even snow earlier the week. The Tugela Falls were flowing not as strong as a few days ago, and it was mesmerizing seeing the water flow over the top and falling down meters of rock wall into the valley far below and a rainbow rising up from the fine spray. We moved on to our camp site at Biljani Falls before the last rays of sunlight leaves us, as soon as the sun dipped behind the hills the temperature would begin to plummet and soon we had jackets and beanies on to try and keep warm. As the sun was beginning to set and paint the sky a bright orange, we started supper and retired to our tents for a very cold night under the stars.

The next morning was freezing and frosty with lots of ice from the water freezing overnight. Our tents were covered in ice inside and out. After a quick pack up we made our way down the valley and we started our walk for the day to area close to Madonna and her worshipers. It would turn out to be a warm dry day with no clouds and views far into KwaZulu Natal. As we neared the escarpment we were greeted by some aspiring views over the Mnweni range and area and we could see all the way to our cave for day 3 still a good few km’s away. Making our way up the valleys were relatively quick, mostly due to every one being quite fit and eager to get to our camp site. We made our way down to a stream close to Stimela Ridge for lunch and then slowly made our way up the valley and marching on to our final destination. We found a campsite just below Madonna and her worshippers and starting setting up camp. Our tents were still wet from this morning and I still had some ice inside of the fly sheet however with the heat and a light breeze it dried quickly and soon we were brewing some coffee and chilling next to the stream enjoying some time off from the walking. There is nothing better that to be able to wash you face and feet in a cold mountain stream, you feel instantly refreshed and the long day don’t seem as bad as you thought it would be. Tomorrow was going to be one of our longest days so we all had a relative early night and as we went to bed our tents were illuminated by the moon and we could hear everything becoming  silent over camp except of the crying of a jackal way down somewhere in the valley.

It was another cold start to the day and as we packed up we ate breakfast and ready to go before 8:00. There were a slight breeze that cut through skin and bone and we all started with jackets on, and before long we were hot and sweaty as we reached the escarpment and looked out over Madonna and her worshippers. We followed a rough line on the escarpment following the border. Strangely we did not see any goats or sheep for most of the time and suddenly we could hear some bells far off in the distance and only when we got close to the Black & Tan Wall did we see some herders with their animals looking like they were on their way down to Mnweni Pass. We made our way around the Mnweni cutback and we could see our finish line for the day getting closer and closer. After what felt like eternity we rounded the last corner and slowly started to make our way down to the Senqu River, the starting point of what becomes the Orange River. Here we had a short break and gathered as much water as we could carry up to Mponjwane Cave, our home for tonight. That last uphill to the cave was a real morale breaker and our pace up to the cave was very slow if compared with the rest of the day and luckily our last uphill for the day. On reaching we found the cave already occupied and after meeting the other group we settled into the top section of the cave and set our camp up for the night. The views from Mponjwane Cave is something to experience, it overlooks the escarpment and being right on the escarpment it gets sun for most of the day and the rocks was nice and warm. Tonight we should not be too cold and we would get the first rays of sunlight just as the sun rises. We did not even worry about tents and made our beds in the open with only the cave roof over us.

We awoke to the other group already being awake, they were planning on climbing Mponjwane Peak and as they set off passed us we exchanged greetings as the sun started to colour the horizon with hues of orange. It was cold as we all sat in our sleeping bags waiting for the sun to rise. With some coffee in my hands I watched as the sun eventually broke the surface and we could feel the warm rays on our skin. The night was quite mild and not cold at all and we had minimal ice or frost around the cave. However on the on the other side as we walked down it looked like snow so thick the frost was lying in-between the grass, and where ever water flowed over the rocks it was frozen solid. Today we would make our way to Twins Cave, another escarpment cave but I don’t think it’s quite as nice as some of the other caves as it can be very wet with drips or very dry in winter with us having to carry water up from the stream as well. Our walk today would take us very close to the escarpment with some spectacular view over the Cathedral Peak range. We made our way over valleys and over hills and eventually reached Ntonjelana Pass were we dried our tents that was still wet and had quite a long lunch, from here it’s not too far to our final destination and although no one said it, we were all thinking off the final uphill from the river to the escarpment, again with a full load of water. This time we were clever and took it slow and steady and reached the edge and looked down onto the final downhill that would lead us into Twins Cave. Making our way down we could feel that it was a long day and we had to really concentrate on our foot placement as the path was rocky and badly eroded at some places. After what felt like an eternity we walked into the cave, this time it was empty and we found each a spot to sleep. The cave was relative dry and only a few drips but not enough to be used as a water source. The cave gets sun well into the afternoon and we sat outside on the grass till it disappeared behind the high berg and again it started to get quite cold. We all enjoyed an early supper as tomorrow was going to be a long day making our way down the Bell Traverse. The weather still looked good and even though there was some high clouds around making for an awesome sunset, the weather forecast still look good.

It was a very mild night and we all slept well and up early so that we could have an early start, today would be challenging for us all. Bo was getting the flu and suffering with the symptoms and his pace was a lot slower than the days before. Shouldering our bags we set off on the final leg of our journey and walked surprisingly fast and before long we were down the tricky section and on our way on the contour path well on our way to the Bell and up and over Buggers Gully. It is here were we started to slow down, it’s a steep, rocky gully that we have to pass up and over to reach the other side of Cathedral Peak. We did not set any records going over, however we made it. We were running low on water and in the valley leading up to the peak we found some water were we had a quick lunch before tackling the rest of the way down. It is a long way back as the path zig zags left and right then over hills before reaching Orange Peel Gap. From here you know it’s downhill all the way, and down hills you might think is easy however for most the down hills as just as bad as the uphill’s. Stepping down the rocks and steps with a heavy bag pushing you down takes a lot of concentration not to fall over. I was now close to 16:00 as we walked passed Sherman’s Cave and we had still a way to go, our pace was fast and we did not stop for much as we needed to get down to the car park. We walked like crazy and soon we reached our last obstacle the Mlambonja River, the crossing was quite easy, boulder hope all the way across and then on to the car park. We made it to the vehicles and we all admitted that it was a long and tiring day for all, but we will all be back very soon to tackle the mighty Drakensberg again.

The Cathedral Peak Loop

We have been planning this hiking trip for a couple of months and the plan was to walk to the escarpment via the Camel and Organ Pipes Pass and sleep one night in Roland’s Cave. The next morning we would then walk over the escarpment, summit Cleft Peak before moving on to Twins Cave for our second night before walking back down on the last day. Quite doable over 3 days with a thought first day of almost just uphill for the whole day and the last day is long downhill back down to the car park.

The last time I did this section I got very dehydrated because it was not only very hot but we were experiencing a very dry season and water was very scarce, this time round it would be a lot wetter. It rained the night before and there was a severe weather warning in place with the possibility of heavy rain and the possibility of snow on the high peaks.

After meeting the clients at Didima and completing the mountain resister, we set of to the hiker’s car park under very heavy clouds that looked like it might open up and pour rain down on us at any moment. We packed the last bit of gear into our bags and as we picked up the bags we were ready to set off on our adventure.

Not too long into the hike we started to get a few drops of rain and we were all still going strong and the uphill’s were still very doable and with the cool weather around we were going at a steady pace. As we reached Doreen Falls it started to rain a lot harder however we were sweating and het and did not yet think of putting a rain jacket on, big mistake, as the rain was cold and the wind blowing down the slope caused us to get cold very quickly. We reached the steeper section of the climb to Ribbon Falls and I could feel my heart rate increase as we now had to really begin to push our bodies to get up the steep sections before reaching the river were we would be able to fill up water bottles and have a bit of a snack.

The rain had stopped by now and it felt a bit warmer and deep down I was hoping that the weather prediction was wrong and that the weather would actually improve a bit, how wrong would it turn out to be.

From the stream it is a fairly level stretch till you reach the jeep track junction where you can turn off to Tseketseke Pass or as in our case walk straight up the steep path leading up onto the Camel. The Camel got its name from a rock formation that looks like a Dromedary Camel and the path weaves in and out of it before climbing steeply up before becoming a fairly easy path till you reach the final climb into the windy gap. However we still had a fairly long distance to cover with quite a few climbs before us. As we started the uphill section it started to rain again and the wind was cutting right through us and we quickly put a rail layer on. Not that it would help keep us dry as we were sweating heavily, it did keep the wind out that was freezing as it came down the high berg. We could hear some far off thunder rumbling and I was softly praying that we would not get caught in a storm on the Camel. There is absolutely no place to hide here from the lightning and the thought of it scared us to push on.

By now Marine started to struggle with the weight of her bag, maybe more because she was not used to carrying a heavy back pack and coming from a lower laying area in France the altitude gain might also be playing a bit of a roll. We carried on ad soon we started to climb over the top section and started to contour around the first corner, looking back we could see just how much we climbed over such a short distance. It must quite easily be a 40 degree angle.

I could hear that Marine was starting to struggle more and more and as we kept climbing she got slower and slower. She was clearly not doing well and her partner was giving her a lot of encouragement throughout. As we rounded the corner and we passed the smugglers route up the spur leading up from the Tryme Hill junction I realized that we now going to reach a point of no return and we need to make a decision on what we need to do. Just before the neck we stopped and I had to have a heart to heart talk to the two and made it quite clear that if we carry on we do not have an easy way out as from here it will start to get steeper and there is some tricky sections coming up and after this point it is not going to get easier for her. She was freezing and together with the back pack hurting her shoulders and back, she had to make the call. They were talking in French and I could see that she was very close to tears from either the pain or the realization that the trip is over. They turned to me and we all agreed to walk back to the Jeep Track were we would then camp for the night and see how she feels in the morning. By now the rain also started to fall a lot harder and it did not look like it was going to ease up any time soon.

We made our way back to the smugglers route up the spur and slowly made our way down. The path is rocky and very slippery and with the rain made it even more treacherous and we really had to concentrate on our foot placement. The mist would roll in over and around us and at times we had most probably only 2 to 3 meter visibility. Luckily for us the path would take us right onto the Jeep Track that is a very clear path running North to South. It took us more than a ½ hour to get down and in the now pouring rain we found some level ground right on the junction in the neck. As if someone flipped a switch the rain eased off and we used this time to quickly put our tents up and just in time as the heavens opened up and it rained nonstop for about an hour or so and as it eased off we emerged from our tents to try and boil some water for coffee and to make some warm food for lunch. I managed to find a water source not too far from the tents and after filling water bottles we retired back into our tents just as it started to rain again. This would be the last time it would stop raining because it rained nonstop from then right through into the next day. The rain would ease of a little and I would zip my door open and peep out to see just mist around us and then crawl back into my sleeping bag.

As it was getting dark the temperature was also dropping fast and I was wondering if it would snow on contour level, it never did but it felt quite cold at some stage during the night. It was not the most comfortable sleep I had and being a bit exposed in the neck I was just hoping the wind would stay away and not blow us off the ridge. The rain pelted down again hard and I dozed off in and out of sleep as I heard the rain on my tent.

It rained most if not all of the night and quite hard at times and at one stage it sounded like sleet or small hail, however the next morning everything was wet outside. The tents held up to the wet weather but the clients did not do to well and soon we were making plans to cut the trip short and go back down to camp. By 8:00 we were all packed up and packing a back pack inside a tent is quite a mission as you have to do everything sitting down and every time you touch the tent sides you can feel water beginning to drip onto you. A ten is only water proof until you touch the inner tent against the outer tent. All packed up we now had to go outside and take the tents down.

Within seconds my rain jacket was soaked. I quickly packed up the tents and water was pouring out of the fly sheet into the inner tent and there was nothing I could do but carry on.

After packing up a soaking wet tent, I myself were totally soaked to the bone. After a while you reach a stage where you do not have a care in the world about being wet or soaked as there is absolutely nothing you can say or do to change the situation. I picked up my bag and it weight a ton. All the water from the tent and what by this time has new been absorbed by the back pack as well was now weighing down on our shoulders.

Marine just had that look of desperation, with the hope of getting back down to camp to get rid of this burden called a back pack. She was really struggling under the weight more because of the damage done the day before that the weight today.

We set off and the start of the path was easy, and remember that it is a relative term used in the Berg because easy can mean a whole lot of different things to different people. Soon we were climbing up and passed Tryme Hill still in heavy rain pelting down on was. The rain was cold on our faces and every now and again you would feel a cold stream of water running down your back sending a chill right through your body. Some places the food path turned in to little streams that would make the rocky sections extremely slippery and others very muddy however this did not seem to slow our pace down at all.

We reached the lip or the start of the walk down and way down below us in the mist we could see Didima Camp our final destination. We slowly started to make our way down the zig zags and as we come round each corner we could see the next cut back leading us closer and closer to home. By now our shoes were filled with water and every step would swish-swish and small bubbles blowing on the seams and stitching. Usually blisters would be a major concern as wet feed very quickly leads to blisters, however under the circumstances it would not have mattered to try and dry our feet.

With each switchback we got closer and closer to home and some sections were very tricky as a few new paths were leading up diagonally up the valley and this caused very confusing little paths everywhere but more concerning very muddy and slippery areas due to the water having eroded the top sections and now carrying this mud and rocks down with it into the paths. We carefully navigated this sections trying not to fall and injure ourselves and before long were could see the foot path leading back to Didima.

On reaching Didima we put our bags down and asked the staff if we could quickly change into some dry clothes and what a morale booster for us all. It’s not always that you have rain for this amount of time dumped on you without a break, however when it does happen, you need to be prepared for it and be prepared to change your plans to keep every one safe. The route is not to bad going down but gets very steep close to the end and with the zig zags it’s not too bad but people have been taking short cuts and this is causing lots of erosion. We got back to the camp and we walked to pick up the cars before we sorted out everything. We got dressed into dry clothing and set off first to Thoks, before I went home. Tomorrow I will take them to Giants Castle and if the weather is better we will go to RNNP

Bannerman Hut

The Bannerman Hut experience

The Bannerman Hut walk in Giants Castle is not the most difficult walk in the area, however it is quite scenic with some aspiring views not only over the Kwa-Zulu Natal interior, but the high peaks surrounding Bannerman Pass as well. For those with a wanderlust and loads of energy, a walk up Bannerman Pass will allow you to experience the  vastness of the Drakensberg, but don’t be fooled it’s not going to be just a quick walk in the park.

After meeting and greeting we had a short discussion over the plans for the upcoming walk over some coffee and then we got to the serious business of starting to pack bags and making sure it fits properly. Marijke enjoys hiking and Harry is more into cycling so fitness will not be a problem, what I have found is that most of the times fitness is not a big issue, however it is more the altitude combined with the narrow paths and rough conditions under foot that makes it very difficult for our overseas clients.

With bags packed and loaded into the vehicle we set of on our journey to Giants Castle. I looked out the window and could see some dark clouds building over the peaks and I knew rain was forecasted and it would just be a matter of time before we will get wet. On arriving at the camp I sort out the necessary paper work, remember to always fill out the mountain register before you venture off onto the trails as this is your safety line if something might go wrong.

Our first day would take us to Bannerman Hut, a very basic mountain hut in today’s standards and only a shimmer of its former glory and luxury, however it still beats sleeping in a tent in the rain. To get to the hut we would first have to walk about 10,5 km of which the first 6km’s is mostly uphill before you reach the contour path and then the next 4,5 km is a bit easier as it follows the contour to the hut. Pack on our shoulders we set off and as we cross the Bushman’s River we could see that the area had some good rains recently and at one of the small streams we quickly filled water bottles before we set our sights on the looming up hill. For the first time you see it, it looks very daunting task and the best way to climb any hill is to do it bit by bit.

Soon we were huffing and puffing, sweat beading on us and we have not yet even started. Today was ideal hiking weather, it was cool and the rain was treating to come down at any minute, however kept away and as we made our way slowly up the slope we had a few drops here and there. To be safe we covered our bags and made our way up the last little section before we reached the junction were we were planning to have some lunch. Our energy levels were quite low by the time we reach the junction and it was a welcome break from the walking. When you put the bag down it really feels like someone has removed a huge burden from your back.

I must just stop here and thanks the staff at Antbear for all the goodies they supplied to Harry and Marijke, they really spoiled them with choice and every taste was catered for. We had some time to relax and just chat about  life and living we could hear some far off rumbling and the sky getting darker towards the Injasuthi part of the Berg. As one we got up and began packing up to get going before the rain starts. From here it’s a bit of an easier walk of 4,5km to the hut and soon we would be sitting around the table talking about our experiences.

The hut is situated on a spur on the bottom of Bannerman Pass and from the hut you can only see part of the pass itself. The rain never came and it was actually getting a bit warmer and the hut was a welcome sight and as we walked inside we were glad to be here. We carried one of the benches out and relaxed outside watching the sunlight play over the valley way below us. The clouds started building over the high peaks again and the wind turned cool and we could hear the bubbling of the stream nearby, however the water was cold and not as appealing as it would have been on a hot day. We did how ever make use of the stream to wash off all the sweat and freshen up a bit before relaxing well into the early evening before enjoying supper outside watching the clouds change colour before being forced inside by the mist rolling in from the bottom of the valley.  

Hiking the Furrow Trail

I was fortunate to be able to visit Moor Park with the grade 8 students from Treverton College on 31st January to 2nd February 2019. Moor Park is a small nature reserve that overlooks the Wagondrift Dam and Bushman’s River. A variety of animals like black wildebeest, blesbok, impala, zebra, mountain reedbuck, common duiker and bushbuck can be seen while walking on the Furrow Trail, and 190 bird species have been recorded including fish eagle and black eagle.

When standing on Makhabeni hill overlooking Moor Park you will find one of the oldest Iron Age sites in KwaZulu-Natal dating back to AD 1300 and while walking on the trail and especially on the southern side of the dam, you may also find large fossil beds with many fossilized trees lying exposed on the surface of the ground. When visiting Moor Park Nature Reserve a day permit is required and you will find some rustic pick nick sites under thorn trees to just enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of this area. Unfortunately there is no accommodation facilities available.

All this tranquillity was shattered as 27 students, 4 post matrix and 7 instructors made our way down to the start of the Furrow Trail. This was part of Treverton College’s orientation week for their students and also formed part of each pupil’s introduction into the Colleges Outdoor Program. After a quick briefing we set off on our journey. It was a hot day with the sun backing down on us and not to soon after we left the gate, we all started sweating  and soon the water bottles was uncapped and cool redressing water gulped down. The walk has not yet started and we could hear the students complaining about the weight of their back packs. For majority of them this was the first time they have carried a back pack never mind slept in a tent. Soon we reached a level spot where we had a breather, and some bless buck and zebra curiously stood there watching us. I wonder what must be going through their heads as we came past them.

The brightly coloured clothing and packs stood out like splashes of paint against the green of the veld, at least we know they would be able to find us if we should get lost. Soon we picked up the Furrow Trail, and started weaving through the trees that has made this once artery of live giving water their home. The furrow trail follows the old Voortrekker furrow dug in the 1800s by the settlers who settled on the banks of the Bushman’s River. The furrow followed the contour for about 3 to 4 km before reaching their fields where the water was distributed to water their crops. Disused and over grown it follows the contour all the way back to the Moor Park main gate were we are aiming to get before night fall. As we continued on our quest the sky started to become dark as a storm started building over us and I could feel the pace picking up. The rest breaks got shorter and the strides a bit longer, unfortunately we were not quick enough and soon we had to stop to pull out rain coats and cover our bags with rain covers.

We weaved our way through the bush ducking low branches and thorns, scrambling over some rocks and always looking sky wards. The rain was short lived and soon the sun was out again and soon we stopped this time to remove rain jackets. We could see lightning bolts way pass us in the valley and the thunder roaring but this storm has passed us and we are back in sweltering heat. The little bit of rain made the air thick with moisture and the trees blocking and breeze made the going tough. Our pace slowed down and the breaks grew more frequent and longer. We were about half way when a black cloud started rolling in over us. The cooling was welcome however it also means that another storm is coming our way. Unfortunately Makhabeni hill blocks our view from where a storm would usually come from and the first time we can see it is once it is right upon us. There were a low rumble as we continued on and a few drops started to fall on us, not much just a few warning us of what is still to come.  Once more they want to have a break and I inform them that it will only be 5 minutes long as we are now very close to our destination and need to be there before the storm gets to us.

We were to camp out at the far end of the pick nick sites, yes they don’t normally allow people to camp here, however after some negotiation a fee was agreed on and this would be their home for the night. The rain got a bit heavier just as we got around the corner of our destination yet it was short lived and once again the sky cleared and we had the soft glow of the afternoon sun bathing the hills surrounding us in a soft orange glow.

We got to our destination and as one the group dropped their bags and flops down on the soft grass. “I’m sleeping right here”, “This is my spot” I hear someone else say. “No it’s a bit further on” I reply and if looks were arrows I would have been looking like a pin cushion. Eventually we reached our camp site and we got our tents up before the next storm comes. By now it was beginning to rain again lightly, but steady and the sky got very dark again. We could hear the rumbling of thunder and could feel the wind pick up, and it would be only a matter of time and the storm would be upon us. Fortunately for us, we were going to sleep in camp and only be back the next morning, and once all the tents were up, food handed out a water bottles filled we set off back to camp. The rain stopped by now and the sun was just beginning to peak through the clouds, however once we got to the top of the road we could see some very dark and ominous clouds rolling in from the Berg and we knew that we would be getting a storm sooner or later tonight. Well what happened that night we only found out the next day, however that is a story for another day.