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Eerie silence on a cold winters day ...

Uitsoek Hiking Trail

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On a cold Saturday morning (7 July 2007) 11 hikers set out on the 14 km first day of the Uitsoek Trail in the mountains between Sudwala Caves and Lydenberg.  The trail winds through large tracts of land that are planted with pines, where neither animal nor bird stirs and one feels an eerie silence that is only lifted by the chatter of fellow hikers.  The trail, however, also takes one through some magnificent natural forests, where birds call from the canopy, streams gurgle and bushpig diggings are evident all over.  We, unfortunately, missed a junction in the path and ended up 4 kms along the day walk route, whereupon seven of us opted to back-track and continue as planned and four decided to head back to the base huts and enjoy a day walk instead.  The rest of the day was spent ascending (some 700 meters in total), which together with the 4 extra kilometers made for a fair walk!  Oh, there was one large descent, followed of course by an equally large ascent, making the first day a nice challenge (where one could really use the lungs!).  We reached the Uitsoek overnight hut at about 15h30, and found it to be basic but comfortable, with plenty of firewood on hand thanks to the forestry industry.  There was also running water nearby for a quick wash-up.  Needless to say, it was a rather early night and we awoke to a heavily frosted winter scene early the next morning.  We set off again at around 07h00 with 13 kms of descent ahead of us, again through some beautiful forests.  We had ample time and took numerous tea-breaks, as well as a nice lunch stop in the sun on the lower slopes, where the forest gave way to drier bush.  We arrived back at the cars at 14h00 after a good day’s walk, where there were hot showers available before the long drive home (it’s some 4-5 hours from JHB, with a 10 km stretch of rough logging roads after the tar ends).  All in all, I found the hike to be really worthwhile, with some nice up-hill pulls and just enough of a physical challenge to make it memorable (but I wouldn’t recommend it for new/unfit hikers).  Very scenic, enough water en-route and reasonable accommodation.

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Participants: George Christian (leader); Este Shearer; Elisabeth Pickard; Hanneke Robat; Elsa Wolshowsky; Sean, Charmaine and Simon Lewis; Hans van Ree; Wendy Farrow; Leon Marais.

Thanks to Wendy for the organisation and to George for leading the hike.

Photos and tale trail by Leon Marais

Last Update: 2007/08/31 / Author: admin
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