6AM the Saturday morning of the 18th October 2003 :
Twenty-two very eager hikers from 360 degrees Hiking and Mountaineering and Ashihara Karate set off at to the Cedarberg Mountains
We dropped the first group (lets call them "the Crystallites") at Cedarberg Resort. After saying our farewells, the second group ("Maltese Poodles") set off a somewhat 20 km further for our starting point at Eikeboom. This is my experience on group 2. Why? You'll find out in a while:
11:00 am - Russell takes the lead.
After orienteering the map (Abdullah, take note) we set off. The first stretch was on a very lengthy jeep track. Here signs of the very first leopard traps were spotted. Trust Shuaib and Nazeer to explore the trap up close. The area is very dry and as we gradually ascended a cold chill could be felt. Russell (trying to be botanically correct) showed us the different kinds of flora???.. A secret ??..(This information he obtained
from the map that he had in his possession) To the left of us was Cedarberg's very own "Table Mountain". Believe me if I tell you, this is a smaller version of the real thing. You have to see it to believe it!
3PM - We reached Sneeuberg Hut.
The hut has three walls built of rock and the fourth wall is actually a huge boulder. The group was exhausted at this point and a decision had to be made whether we were going to continue to Maltese Cross or stay over at the hut and continue the next morning. After many discussions a decision was made to continue. Thanks "General" for putting your foot down and making the decision easier.
4PM we left the hut.
As we walked the winding "roads" you could see the "Cross" (refer Anwaaz's photo) in the far distance.
6PM we reached the Maltese Cross and set up camp.
Anwaaz found a perfect spot, complete with "kitchen", "bedrooms","laundry" and "toilet" (across the path, third rock or any rock for that matter to the right). In no time the "rooms" were erected. Fatima, Faheema, Aysha busied themselves cooking up a storm in the "kitchen" With Fatima and Faheema braising the onions. Aysha with her doekie on (like a real motjie) peeling potatoes, and me ??mmmmmm?? observing. (Why add to the phrase "too many cooks spoil the broth" ) After a very hot "sausage smoortjie" and bread (in all shapes and sizes) supper, we had our very famous "bosberaad".
Again only good things were said. We finished off the evening with a hot cup of coffee and off to sleep we went in our "luxury" 2-man tents. The night was long and cold with the wind howling. In the distance the sounds of the leopards could be heard.
Everybody, with exception of Shuaib and Russell had a roll mat to sleep on. The two of them were gentlemen enough to offer their mats to myself and Aisha. Need I describe the amount of PAIN they were in the next morning. They ached in every part of their bodies, parts they didn't even know existed. Sorry Shuaib and Russell for the inconvenience. Russell than topped the charts with another award winning song that became our "happy song" for the Cedarberg.
6AM - A beautiful sunrise greets us.
After a quick breakfast, "operation clean-up" begins.
8:45 AM - Shuaib takes the lead.
Not far into the hike we could hear a waterfall in the distance. We left our packs in the paths and eagerly set off in search of the waterfall. This was a baby one, but the rock formations were spectacular. There were rocks that looked like dinosaurs, a finger, a dice and one that was in a definite rectangular shape. Unbelievable !!!!!
We backtracked and shortly after that we reached the Sneeberg hut again. In the far distance we saw a couple of baboons frolicking in the mountains. I'm glad that out of all the scary talks about leopards, baboons and snakes, these were the only living animal that I've seen (with the exception of my fellow hikers?. Of course)
Over Duiwelsgat we moved swiftly with Shuaib still taking the lead, singing to his hearts content and before we knew it we all would be singing along from the Carpenters to Bee Gees to District Six.
After a good lunch we continued to move over many crevices. The paths are very overgrown and it does not look like there are many visitors to these parts of the mountains.
Now?. what happened next is "top secret". An hour into the next stage of the hike, I felt a slight pain under my ribcage. The pain (together with the heat factor) became so severe. Anwaaz first noticed and on confronting me, I told him about the pain. Before I knew it I was flat on my back with Anwaaz signaling to the group ahead that something was wrong. I was hyperventilating and panicking. Russell "my man" Ravens then slowly coached me into controlling my breathing. In the distance I heard Shuaib's voice. He came to assess the situation and when he saw that everything was under control, he took off with my bag, leaving behind a Bar-one (as medicine). (Soooo sweet!!!!) With Russell's melodious voice and a complete physical the pain subsided. The diagnosis: a stitch.
This story I wasn't going to include in this report, but there is so much to be learnt by my mistake:
Don't be foolish - do not for once think that if you are a seasoned hiker it will not happen to you - IT CAN !! Tell somebody the very minute you experience pain or any discomfort (they are there to help) and Listen and follow the instructions given
A BIG "thank you" to Anwaaz and Russell for being there for me. You are X-traordinary !!!!!
6AM - we finally finished our Cedarberg Wilderness adventure. What a way to end the long hot hike, with a refreshing swim. Fatima, Faheema, Shuaib and Junaid took full advantage of the rock pool with its crystal clear (freezing) water.
We then went back to where we dropped the first group, who finished their hike 2 hours earlier?. mmmmm ??..(I wonder why)
In our debrief session, Anwaaz reported on Group 2 and Hassan reported on Group 1.
This was the first time that a dual hike took place in the same area, with our paths never crossing.
All and all we had a fabulous time.
Special mention goes to Junaid Williams. Congratulations on completing your first overnight hike. I hope it was just as enjoyable for you as it was for us. Shukran also for your input on various issues and for showing us Tai-chi.
To Russell - This also being your first official overnight hike. You are a great asset to the club and always having us in stitches with your jokes and songs.
To Fatima - (a colleague of mine) Congratulations !!!!! You survived a full 7 days with me and this also marks our first overnight hike together.
We left Cedarberg at 7:45 PM and only reached Cape Town at +- 10 PM.
Hope to see you all soon on future hikes.