Tempis fugit. Time flies.
This trail has been the entrée of many a person into hiking. So it was with Malcolm Royal about 20 years ago and his fellow Outbound Adventure Mate, Peter Glover, five years ago. In the case of the latter, it was contemporaneous with a decline in hiking standards within the Quo Vadis Hiking Club. Whether Peter was instrumental in this decline in refusing to adhere to hiking norms such as carrying a hiking pack or whether he merely epitomised the general lowering of standards as the members of the Club reached old age, I am not sure. Whatever the reason, we have now set the bar so low that hiking is optional. So it was this weekend.
Main picture: One of the numerous bridges on the Magoebaskloof Hike
With Quo Vadis’ resident chef not being in attendance on the Barrett’s Coaches Hike at Kaapsehoop, I expected some twittering in the ranks about the attendees’ inability to prepare food. Little did I expect that a member of long standing, and generally not given to being ill-disciplined, would sink to a new level of incompetence: he forgot his food altogether.
The generous members of Quo Vadis stepped into the breach and offered their own food to a Comrade in order to prevent him from contracting anorexia.
This was but one of the numerous incidents which beset the hike to Barrett’s Coaches on the Kaapschehoop Trail in August 2018.
Main picture: Rob & Dean in front of one of the many huge rocks littering the area
From the swansong of Arnold Paikin to the debut swan dive of Clive Cameron, it was a weekend of high drama as norms, precedents and etiquette were summarily ignored and cast aside. It was an object lesson of how to let one’s hair down and to hell with precedent and regulations. The only redeeming feature was that everybody enjoyed themselves without killing themselves in the process.
This is a cautionary tale on the perils of hiking. Not that it was the fault of the trail or the environment per se, but rather the stupidity and bravado of the hikers themselves. In both incidents it was a dog that saved the day.
Main picture: Lesoba Hiking Trail
The simple hiking hut eponymously called Oom Japie se Huis was probably originally the living quarters of one of Dr Okie van Niekerk’s ancestors, all of whom have resided on this huge plot since 1911.
It overlooks various streams that ultimately flow into the Komati River. Being on the escarpment, it is more Highveld than Lowveld. At this time of the year, the brown grassland is crying out in its anguished thirst, tortured by the expectation of the imminent summer rains.
Main picture: Huts among the sandstone rocks at Rooikrans Camp
The Num-Num Trail is located in the Skurweberge between Machadodorp and Badplaas. There are a number of trails on this site and one is theoretically able to start at any point on the trail. Our usual starting point is the Pongola Express which comprises an actual train’s dining car together with a carriage. On this occasion Saturday’s hut was Candlewood with its panoramic view of the full drop of the Uitkomst falls.
Main picture: How the The Pongola Express managed to take a wrong turning and end up in the Skurweberge, I will never know
My initial reason for doing the Giants Cup trail last year was to ascertain whether we were fit enough to hike the Fish River Canyon this year. We only completed the first days hike to the Mzimkulwana Hut.
I re-booked the trail for this year hoping for an improved performance.
As 2016 will be the 10th anniversary of this hike which from a personal perspective was noteworthy in that I hurt my back so badly on the descent on day one that it ultimately culminated in my 2nd back operation a few months later. As a commemoration, I have elected to reprint / re-issue the two blogs on this hike as one blog: The Report Back and the irreverent – or maybe that should read irrelevant – awards. Of the 9 of us who completed this hike, Walter Baumgartl has since passed on, long before his allotted time.
Main picture: Fish River Canyon – Viewpoint at the Start. Naturally the only way down, is down Continue reading
The die has been cast. Age and lack of ability cannot be reversed. We will have to accept that Quo Vadis is an ex-hiking club; it is no more. This does not imply that the Club is extinct like the Dodo but rather that its modus operandi will have to accord with the new realities.
Thinking back on the days when Mike Brown, Kurt Radzom, Mick Crabtree and I were hiking together 25 years ago, it is unbelievable that the Quo Vadis Hiking Club would ultimately be transmogrified into the genteel Quo Vadis Slack Packing Club. Continue reading
The Blue Wildebeest Hiking Trail outside Badplaas cannot by any stretch of the imagination be classified as tough let alone difficult but it was just what the members of the Quo Vadis Hiking Club needed: an insouciant hike through the savannah on the escarpment overlooking Swaziland in the distance.
When I first started hiking 35 years ago, I would vehemently oppose any suggestion of doing an easy hike. About five years ago without so much as an official injunction, the hikes evolved from route marches into – how should I put it without deflating too many egos – little more than a walk in the park. I have firmly placed this lackadaisical attitude to rights. Our next hike will be a 3 day affair in the Drakensberg Mountains.
Main picture: Arthur the Greek’s sketch of the view from the hut