A new addition to his extended family led to Derek Odendaal excusing himself from leading this meet he’d planned. All the arrangements were in place, however, for the camp based in the foothills of the Swartberg. The rest of us therefore arrived at the very comfortable Kruisrivier campsite (https://www.kruisrivier.co.za/) for an enjoyable long weekend.
In attendance were Charles Smith, Karin van Niekerk, Jeremy and Alex Lister-James, Tony and Evie Bowen, Dave and Faye Jones, Dennis Lange, Tim and Kim Gaskell, Andre du Plessis, Clive Louw, Jacolise Joubert, Werner Illenberger, Zeta Michau, and Sandy and Gary Cundill.
After setting up camp and digesting lunch, a group of us set off to stretch our legs and explore the surroundings (red route on map). Initially following the road north we turned off onto an access track that crossed the river and led up the valley, passing old farmhouses along the way.
After an hour we drew abreast of Walland se Kop, and the track turned out of the main valley, heading northwest. Across a marshy area we could see Olienhoutkloof, with Wilgenhoutkloof hidden by a spur – perhaps opportunities for exploration on another visit. The party split up a couple of times, depending on walkers’ appetite for distance, but all were back in camp in due course. Blessed by great weather as we were throughout the trip, it wasn’t long before braai fires were lit, new acquaintances were being made and old ones renewed.
Friday dawned clear and cool, and Andre and Dennis loaded their packs to follow Clive up into the mountains for their three day trip (see Clive’s separate report: ‘Traverse of the Swartberg to Kangoberg’). Most of the rest of us hopped into vehicles to head for the nearby Red Stone Hills farm (www.redstone.co.za). There our hostess, Petro, told us a little about the neighbourhood, and then dropped us off at the access point for a circular route through the spectacular hills.
The route brought us back to the farmhouse, and after a short stop we then circled round through the farms on the other side of the road.
After a good night’s rest, lulled to sleep by the sound of the rushing waters of Viagara Falls, we breakfasted and then set off to head up the main river valley, passing through Oshoek se Poort (green route). This took us through some pretty scenery with spectacularly rugged ridges above us, one of which Tony engaged with on his return. As the kloof narrowed we were stopped by rock and water – further exploration was left for a warmer day. Beautiful waterfalls were visible high up in the kloof from this point.
On Sunday we drove across to Boesmanskop farm and walked up the Goegamma valley (black route). Partly on jeep tracks and partly following irrigation furrows, we turned around at a weir beyond which heavy undergrowth made further progress unattractive.
Retracing our steps a short distance we then hiked up a ridge, heading roughly towards the line that Clive’s party had used a couple of days before. Our paths didn’t cross as they’d elected to follow a different ridgeline to the west on their way back. We were rewarded with great views of the Swartberg and the cultivated areas that lie to its south.
On our return we found the high altitude party safely in camp, and rounded off the meet with our nightly campfire, this time enhanced by our own one man band, Andre (a very important player in all future meets featuring campfires, I would suggest).
Good hiking, clement weather, convivial company and beautiful surroundings. Thanks to Derek for the organisation, to Clive, Karin and Werner for leading, and to each attendee for making it a memorable long weekend.
Meet Leader (replacement) ~ Gary Cundill