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24-26 September - strenuous
Drakensberg Hike Witsieshoek/Fangs Pass/Icidi Pass/Witsieshoek
Time, these days goes so fast that one has to literally write the story immediately about the hike when you return back home.
Nine hikers booked into the Witsieshoek Hotel on Thursday night. On arriving at the hotel we all met at the bar and after a good chat we eventually sat down for dinner.
The hikers who were part of the team where Bernard Robinson, Sue Drummond, Hanneke Robat, Stuart Neill, Brian Lloyd, Rod Hamilton,Thomas Gilfroy, Rob Cunnington and yours truly Neil Ransome.
The rooms we had were fully furnished, with two beds per room. The price per person was R50-00 per head. (Not bad for the price. It is better than sleeping up at the car park bungalows where they charge you R25 per bunk.)
We set off early on Friday morning, and went up “Sentinal Gulley.” This was quite easy, taking about ¾ of an hour to reach the top. From the top you walk down to the MCSA hut.
The weather was warm and moderate, as we walking to Fangs Pass. At the bottom of the pass next to a river we pitched our tents. At this point Thomas and his friend Robert decided to call off the hike and go back to Witsieshoek. I n a way it was a blessing as every one felt that they would jeopardize the hike especially going down and up the passes.
On Saturday morning we left camp at 7.45. At the top we looked down Fangs pass with the Maddona and the Worshippers looking prominent. We stopped for lunch in a cave close to Shepards Cave, after walking through drizzle the whole morning. The view of the mountains was clear, even though it rained. After lunch we set off for Grasscutters cave up Icidi Pass, which was our destination point After walking until late afternoon, none of us could find the cave even though three of us had GPS. We set up camp near by whilst it was drizzling. At this stage, Brian mentioned that he thought that he had cracked a bone in his left arm from a fall going down a slippery path, and Hanneke’s knee also looked bad from a fall going down Fangs Pass.
On Sunday the weather turned out fine and we started off where the cairns indicated the route going up the gorge. At the end of the stream, we cut across the bush to reach the river again, but the embankment was too high for any one to get to the river. We kept to the high ground for some time going around hills and meeting up with dongas each time. Eventually we came onto an existing path which led us right down to the river. At this point one had to do a lot of boulder hopping and climbing in and out of the gorge due to water falls and deep pools. Eventually at about 14h00 we reached the top. As it was still early in the day we pressed on towards Witsieshoek until we all agreed it was time to pitch tents.
That night on top of the berg it was much colder than on the previous nights, the recorded temperature at that time was 4° Celsuis.
On Monday morning we woke up a bit latish as we did not have far to go. We walked to the escarpment but could not see much due to mist, but we came across a herd of buck. On a hill before the Crows Nest hut we split up the parties, for some of us wanted to climb down the chain ladder. At the bottom of “Sentinal Gulley” we had to wait for Brain, Rodney and Hanneke for about ½ an hour, which goes to prove that the chain ladder is much quicker.
At the car park we all decided that the best way to finish off the hike was to go for lunch at a restaurant in Harrismith. A warm meal washed down by a cold beer was a fitting way to end another fulfilling hike.