17-19 February 2006
This camp is not far from the town of Memel,in the Free State.
The trip is approximately 3 hours from Johannesburg.
We were excited about our first away trip, also a little apprehensive of our ability of coping with a two day hike. We had always done a Sunday hike with JHC. We look forward to our hiking but are usually very tired afterward and the thought of a long hike on the Saturday and then attempting another hike in the morning after a long hike was quite daunting. Would we cope? Especially after a night in a strange place with 12 other hikers,-We had been warned that the snoring may be quite *something*!
Would we have all the equipment?
Food! We were not accustomed to providing for lunch, dinner breakfast and the thought of being self sufficient and not leaving anything essential behind was a real challenge. We coped admirably. In fact we over catered.
We were totally unprepared for the adventure of the challenge of traversing countryside which was meant for a 4x4 rather than a low BMW. However we bravely accepted the very uneven farm track and made it!
Peter Burman, our leader, was very gracious in accepting all the comments we threw at him about a map which he was not responsible for as well as our ragging him about not preparing us for the very rough terrain which we had had to cope with. The effort was well worth it. The camp site was exceptional.
We were greeted by a beautifully appointed site. It had been freshly mowed all round the three bungalows .The general meeting place-kitchen entertainment area was well prepared. A *donkey* had been prepared, ie hot water was provided by means of a fire lit in a silo type of structure and this provided hot water the whole weekend for 36 campers –morning noon and night! It was quite remarkable. The ablution block was spotless and perfectly adequate for all of us.
The kitchen entertainment area led onto the raised deck which accommodated 24 of us perfectly. It had ample space for all our culinary requirements. A fridge and deep freeze to boot. The view was quite spectacular from this huge thatched mud floored building. Imagine: a modern open- plan kitchen with enormous dining room complete with a great big pizza oven type fire place for cold nights –fully stocked with wood for the grate .
The deck which led off from this dining area had wooden seating around two very large tables. It had a braai to cook everyone’s meal and the stars overhead shone down on us at night as brightly as the sun basked us in warmth during the day-light.
We didn’t need any electric entertainment to keep us happy and the fun and laughter rocked us till late each night.
Saturday dawned bright and sunny and after breakfast we set off on an enchanted walk around the first mountain. We walked in shade most of the morning admiring the farmers’ fields and cultivated land from on high. By lunchtime we were meandering alongside the mountain streams and cascading waterfalls. We basked in the sun and swam in the natural cascades of water flowing down the mountain. Clear cool and refreshing.
We covered meadows with hundreds of cows and sheep grazing contentedly not paying the least attention to us as we traversed their territory.
Weary but rejuvenated by the breathtaking beauty we wended our way back to camp. Before long the fire was lit and the smell of meat on the grill tantalized our taste buds. We all exchanged some funny sides of our day and enjoyed a glass or two of some beverage which mellowed our bodies enough to feel enticed to our waiting sleeping bags. It didn’t take long for everyone to settle down and lights to be extinguished and dreamland to enter our thoughts.
Sunday dawned –another beautiful day. Hikers are a very organized bunch and we quickly did away with breakfast and were ready to set off on a two and a half hour walk around the remaining walk. Different from the day before but no less interesting. A more leisurely hike was had by all and back at camp we enjoyed a light lunch then we tidied up the camp site packed our cars and were on our way –back to Gauteng!
Revived- weary and looking forward to being home once more.
A good time had been had by all. We were inspired enough to make plans for the next weekend away.
Many thanks to our leader, Peter Burman.