Away hikes is not one of my aspirations in life for various reasons but mainly because I suffer from separation anxiety from my kids and I feel guilty spending money solely on myself where I could spend it on my kids. My hiking family would never have guessed that I am actually an introvert and can only spend so much time with people before I go moody…and quiet.
Only when the last spot opened up (6 days before the hike) I decided to go and loads of last minute prep had to be done and with less than 2 hours sleep, I was at Anwar’s house at 4:45am on Sunday morning.
Heinrich, Eloise, John and his daughter Dané, Peter, Faizal, Anwar and myself jumped into the hired Quantum picked up Rashaad x 2 and then off to Bellville to pick up Li and finally made our way on to the N2 and stopped for coffee and breakfast at Ayala’s farm in Caledon.
It was a long drive with only 3 pit stops I think and lunch was had in Knysna. After a long walk, we eventually found a halaal fast food joint and KFC was consumed arriving in Harkerville at 3pm.
With 3 dorms, I got a room to myself ^_^. After settling and just lazing around, Li wanted to go for walk and off we went into the forest (without a map) and used my instinct to find our way back to the hut. Fire was started for the braai and we feasted shortly before 8pm. I think we were all in bed before midnight and set my alarm for 4am for morning prayers and went back to sleep after as we were only set out to start at around 9am.
The route to Sinclair hut is 8kms of forest and we really motored through with Anwar leading not knowing why he is in such a hurry. Eventually I realized why as every tree we passed, looked like the tree we just passed. Every fungus we passed looked like the fungus we just passed. The forest is dense with no views and the scenery all looked the same that I shortly stopped taking photos.
We get to the plantation clearing and have a few minutes break there giving way to mountain bikers and off we motor off again and can hear the ocean knowing that this is our lunch break and the very steep careful descent down wooden stairs ensues.
We have to be really careful with our heavy backpacks which could easily propel us forward and fall down. We had visions of swimming but it was not to be as the ocean is quite angry and can’t even make our feet wet as the coast is laden with pebbles instead of sand. (I should actually google the reason for this) My communal load was a pot and pan which I didn’t check before hand and when I took it out of my bag, I realized that I was carrying eggs which broke and leaked into my bag haha. Lunch was had and we chilled for a while in the shade.
Off we go but not before stopping to take photos inside a cave and now the adventure really begin traversing along cliffs with chains as support and the angry waves breaking beneath us. This route reminds me a lot of Bos 400 route but safer. By 3pm we were exhausted and Anwar points us to a route in the distance which looked very much like Platteklip and my reaction was “#$^@” me!”
But not before cooling down in a tiny rock pool fully clothed! And off we go for the steep ascend with very tired legs sigh. And as my legs are accustomed to climbing Platteklip and not wanting to take breaks, I passed everyone and absolutely loved the route up! I could still dance and jump around when we got to the top and this is when Ayala realized she no longer have her purse and Jon went down with her again in search of it. With me leading now, we got to Sinclair hut at around 4pm.
Only 2 dorms, no electricity or shower but I was prepared for this as it was the first thing I googled when decided to do this hike hehe. We hear baboons and I go check it out when I saw a deer and promptly took a photo but of course the deer decided to put its head down so can’t see it. Now we can just chill for the rest of the day/night but not before taking a basin bath before it gets dark haha.
Sitting around the braai area someone says that there is another deer in the distance but it looks more like a baboon but with closer inspection, it turned out to be an Antelope or a Kudu. I don’t know but it was bigger than a deer with bigger horns and Heinrich gets out his professional camera and I tell him I have camera envy. We braai for supper and everyone turns in shortly after 9pm which is very strange to me as the two previous away hikes I’ve done, we normally go sleep after midnight: / Most of my roomies opted to sleep outside with just Li and myself in our dorm and I couldn’t sleep x_x It started raining around 12:30am and they come back in and still couldn’t sleep tossing and turning most of the night and with the door and windows wide open, I have a hay fever attack sheesh but eventually dozed off around 2am but was up at 4am for morning prayers and stayed up for the sunrise.
Its overcast so no epic sunrise photos so waited around for everyone to get done and started our final day at around 8:30am I think.
Finally! Rolling mountain views and another very careful steep descent ensued to yet another rocky beach but also a fresh water river where we could take a dip. I go explore and change into my ¾ pants and not intending to get fully wet, a wave push me over with me nearly falling but with good reflexes, I could stop myself before falling onto my butt. This is also the area where one of Faizal’s flip flops washed out to sea and as it meant so much to him, he went off and searched for it haha! jokes, it came back and he preferred having his flip flops instead of walking around in hiking boots until he gets home.
At around 10am its time to go and up a metal ladder this time and climbing for dear life that my heavy laden backpack doesn’t pull me back down! With more traversing along cliffs holding onto the chains for support and when there aren’t chains we are holding onto rock face with the angry sea breaking beneath us. The sheer magnitude and force of the waves breaking on the cliffs was a sight to behold! I took videos to capture these spectacular moments which had me (us!) in awe! but alas, something went wrong with my phone and my videos has sound but no picture T_T
Just before midday, we reach another cave and this is also where lunch is had. Anwar tells us that we need to change into old clothes for this caving experience and do as told and get our headlamps out as well. There’s of course bats in the cave with bat droppings everywhere and I know this is toxic but can’t remember why it’s so toxic but didn’t care at the time. One by one, lying flat on our tummies, and with much struggle, we shimmy and squeeze our way through and we can stand in the cave and when Anwar was there 2 years back, they wrote their names on the walls with mud and I did the same. If there are no natural disasters, my name will forever be etched on those walls for hundreds, if not thousands of years to come. How cool is that?!
We now have to lay flat on our tummies yet again and shimmy and squeeze our way through a very narrow tunnel which made the struggle very real and with much laughter and other sound effects, I eventually got to the other side. I said I felt like a badgermole going through the tunnel. (only those who watched the animated Avatar series will know what a badgermole is 😛 )
I didn’t wait for the rest and went back to those who didn’t go caving with us and not knowing what I looked like coming out of the cave, I posed for photos hehe. My fellow cavers took a long time to come out as they went to explore more caves which I did not know about and after group photos, I changed back into my hiking clothes and we had lunch. As the water is of course, too rough, we couldn’t even clean ourselves.
After lunch we have to cross a horizontal wooden ladder but have to time the waves or get soaked or worse and we make our way across one by one. Some of us getting wet of course. We then have to lean forward to traverse a cliff which was fun and John warning us not to stand on the staples as it was loose. This is when Peter tells me to pose for a photo and with Rashaad waiting beneath me, he got wet when a wave crashed and with Li not wanting to lean forward and ‘fall’ onto the cliff, she got soaked, twice.
There’s another cave which is closed as the ground is unstable and this cave was cavernous! Traversing along chains once more and timing the waves, I got my timing wrong and my legs got soaked but at least my boots got a bit of a clean from the mud.
After some more boulder hopping, traversing, climbing ladders etc, there’s yet another steep climb to made to the top of the mountain! This is where I really struggled as my legs were so so so very tired! Plus I was carrying over 1kg communal sugar in my backpack Towards the end of the climb, it was like a first time Lion’s Head. You can see the end but it’s not ending! Gawd! But we made it up to flat ground yay!!!!! We take a short break and Anwar asks if we should call someone to fetch us or walk the final 6kms back to the Harkerville hut. I’m like ‘what is this from getting a lift?! We are hikers! We walk back!’ Longest 6kms of my life yah! Its flippen hot and we are running low on water but got to pour water over my clothes at a stream which made it slightly more bearable with inclines to be had *rolling my eyes* I think we got back to the hut around 4:30pm.
After much needed showers, we drove to Plettenberg Bay for supper and this is when we discovered that Heinrich was none other than Heinrich Reisenhofer! Writer, Producer and Director of Joe Barber!
We had a not so early night and after a very deep peaceful sleep! I was up before my 4am alarm feeling well rested. I stayed up after prayers and with coffee in my hand, I wait up for the sunrise but with Alpha baboons not far away, I don’t stay in that spot hehe. After a quick bite and final packing and cleaning up, we make our way home around 9:30am. Stopping in MosselBay for breakfast, I see an article in the Cape Times of Achmat Jackson who is doing Platteklip 30 times in 30 days in order to raise funds for Ihata Shelter for abused women and children. I take a photo of this article which I shared on his wall, tagging Taahir Osman as he has joined Achmat several times and he is in the photo in the Cape Times as well.
I forgot where our next pit stop was but I took photo of a Pharmaceutical dispensing unit! Huh?!
Anyway, everyone was dropped off at home and with me living closest to Anwar, I was the last to be dropped off shortly before 3pm!
After my reluctance and trepidation (my mood) to do this hike, I thoroughly enjoyed it! All hikes are absolutely awesome especially routes I haven’t done before but my fellow hikers made this hike all the more wonderful for me and I thank each and every one of you for being so fantastic!
Will I jump at the opportunity to do the next away hike? No lol I’m still an introvert 😛
PS…some photo cred to Rashaad x 2, Anwar, Peter and Faizal