The last three weeks I’ve been kicking around Zululand and Lesotho cause the schools have been on break. The highlight of that is my hike in the Berg. The full gallery of photos can be found here.
5 of us set out to hike from Sentinel peak to Cathedral peak in the northern Berg. It’s mid day when we arrive at the trail head, a good 6 or so hours of driving from Ntumeni.
We hike just under the mist as we climb up towards the chain ladder. We stop at the bottom of the ladder, and have some tea and snacks. The chain ladder consists of two seperate sections with two chain ladders each. The first ladders are hung on a vertical rock face about 20m high, and the second about 10m high. We climbed the ladders as the sun was setting.
At the top of the Berg, we hiked until just after dark, which turned out to be pitch black cause the moon didn’t rise right away and when we guessed we were at the top of Tugela Falls. Setup camp, ate some food, and were fast asleep.
In the morning I rose before sunrise, in the bitter cold from the clear night, and went to take photos of the falls and the sun rise. The valley was filled with clouds.
We hiked over several small ridges and found our selves stopping for lunch in the middle of a small river.
As the afternoon was waning, we encountered our first big of heavy fog, which quickly turned into a small and medium sized hail storm, then just as quickly disapated. Over another ridge and we camped.
The mist is rolling in heavy as we set out in the morning, but we are following the river. We intersect with another river, and back towards whats marked on our map as the trail. Here we find some old Besotho Kraal remains.
After a couple more hours of hiking on psuedo trails, we eat lunch down by the river, and find what looks like our trail leading up to the top of the ridge. We follow into and through the heavy mist, and realize quickly it’s not the trail.
We find our selves on the map, and continue along the ridge into oblivion, or in other words visibilities of about 8m. We find ourselves descending, and end up at the edge of a ridge which is going down on all sides steeply into the valley. We are supposed to be following the ridge and staying high. Were lost. For the first time truly lost. We have lunch in hopes the clouds lift. After lunch they begin to disapate, enough for us to get a few second glimpse of the valley and the surrounding hills, but not enough to orientate. They did however lift enough for us to see the sun again, so we know what general direction is north. At lease we know that much. We hike and hike and hike, all the while following cattle tracks not knowing if we really are on the right path or not. We are up at over 3100m now, the mist is making everything wet, the sun is setting, and it’s getting cold. We decide to just pitch camp where we are and hope for clear skys in the morning. We are guessing we’ve made half the distance we wanted to this day because of the mist.
We wake to clear skys and a beautiful sunrise.
We can’t find ourselves on the map, but at least we can see the escarpment. It’s only a few hours later, that Steve, the only one who’s done this hike before, recognizes some of the peaks and realizes we are way south west of where we should be, and now deep into Lesotho. We make a decision that at our pace and where abouts, we won’t make our intended destination on time, and decide to head for the escarpment and down Rockeries pass almost due east of us. Several hours later we reach the pass and start heading down. Straight down.
We pass a group of school kids from Jo’burg on their way up looking mighty un happy. Two thirds of the way down we find a nice campsite and set up for the night.
The next morning the cresent moon rises over the ridge just as the sun is breaking the horizon.
We hike down the rest of the way, and then along the river valley all the way back to civilization. Or at least a road for us to be picked up at.