Neil, who was the leader said as we started, that this is by far the most strenuous of all the walks we've done as a club.
*Ergh* (thought I,) but once I'd taken the photo below, I strode up behind the group.
Five of our regular 12 hikers set off for Sunset Trail and the Matterhorn
Then I stepped onto the road and saw a path to the left of me. It said Sunset Trail with an arrow pointing in the direction of the mountain. I called out to fellow hiker, Trish who said they were up that path and to just follow!
Then reality struck! The climb started IMMEDIATELY. Not one kilometer into the hike; not a gently incline. We started to hike up and up and around the mountain - for two solid hours!
The beginning of the hike was an immediate climb
We climbed, straightened out for a few meters; climbed again and straightened out for a few more meters. On and on and up and up!
Trish, Josh and Neil had got to a resting spot
a few minutes ahead of me and Price
The view of the hotel and the valley beyond
The hike we did is in the 29000ha Mdelelo Wilderness Area of the Ukhalamba/Drakensberg. Familiar landmarks are Monks Cowl, Cathkin Peak, Gatberg and the Dragons Back. Below is Gatberg which is Ntunja in Zula and means "the eye of the needle".
Gatberg was one of the first peaks we saw on our hike on Tuesday
When I arrived at the second rest stop (Neil said he didn't mind admitting but he's legs were like jelly - I was glad for the rest for the same reason) Neil was pointing to a property down below. When I heard him mention the very rough gravel access road, I remembered that we were originally supposed to go and live there. It was a beautiful huge house with five rondawels nestled in the trees under Cathkin Peak. The idea was that Grant and I get the homesetead and rondawels up and running as a Guest House.
Then Grant became very ill and between John and Debbie they decided that the purchase is called off. Now in retrospect I'm so pleased we didn't take on that challenge. I hear quite a number of horror stories when Guest House owners relate about difficult guests and often the same ones who leave the accommodation in a terrible state when their stay is over.
Neil points to the road leading to the property Grant and I would have taken on as a
We descended from our tea spot and then ascended another hill, and another.
Cathedral Peak and The Bell (Google image)
Our second tea stop was at Breakfast Stream
One of the most popular routes in this area is the contour path via the Sphinx. This route takes you to the higher peaks and passes of the area and gains some 450m in altitude.
Three members of the hiking group had opted to do a slightly shorter route to the Sphinx. Alan (87,) Anthony (76) and Jenny (support lady!) walked from Alan's house to the Sphinx where they waited for us to meet them on the way down.
Then we set off for the rather long downhill descent back to the hotel.
As you round the Sphinx, legend has it that if you toss a stone into the hollow (visible about a third of the way up on the right) you will have a good life. Price and Neil tossed stones successfully into the pool but I only took the photo below AFTER the fact!
For those of my blog readers who enjoy hiking, the outdoors and generally exerting yourself, I hope you enjoyed this post. I certainly enjoyed the hike and also retelling (and reliving) it here.