Report back on the Five Assegaais Hike in August 2014

Deterred by blustery winds and icy cold conditions combined with a huge dollop of lassitude meant a truncated hike. Unlike the Quo Vadis Hiking Club of yore where despite the inclement weather or raging floods, the members would embark upon a hike with alacrity, it would not so be on this occasion. Never in the annals of the Club did I believe that such lassitude would prevail.

Never before could the Quo Vadis have been accused of disinclination to get up let alone hike. The disinterest was palpable on Saturday morning. Everybody procrastinated. With an icy blustery wind scything through the huts, nobody dared to rise. Even though my sleeping bag was rated to minus five, I was shivering. I dozed fitfully aware of the cold at all times. Having endured an uncomfortable night when I would awake every few hours due to the penetrating cold, I was not over enamoured to get moving. Inertia pervaded us all.

Eventually Laurie & I stumbled to the kitchen while Arnold and Clive remained firmly in their sleeping bags.

Five Assegais August 2014#2

Like the Last Chance Saloon, Aloe Khaya is surrounded by huge rocks and protea plants

Instead of a briskness and sense of purpose we idly chatted about solving the problems of the world. As if in accord, we never ever chivvied one another along let alone discussed the impending hike. Finally Clive and Arnold emerged equally as nonchalantly and lackadaisically.

Finally at 10am, we were ready to commence the hike. Normally we would have started hiking at 8am or maybe 8:30 at the latest. Firstly we cursed Francis for the badly marked trail especially when Francis blamed Jacana for not providing us with the maps and other relevant information on the trail itself.

The rocks around Aloe Khaya are reminiscent of a desolate lunar landscape

The rocks around Aloe Khaya are reminiscent of a desolate lunar landscape

From Aloe Khaya, our Base Camp, we headed out along the Escarpment / Oom Paul se Huis Trail. Our destination was the Uitkoms Waterfalls just past the Candlewood Camp. These falls are the second highest in Mpumalanga.

Half way to Candlewood, Arnold started complaining about ear ache which is probably a variant of lazitis or perhaps he was pining for Lauren as they were forced to spend the night apart. As newlyweds and in the first blush of marriage, they cannot abide being separated.

Candlewood Camp which overlooks Uitkoms Waterfalls

Candlewood Camp which overlooks Uitkoms Waterfalls

At Candlewood, the trail veered down the gorge. Without a word being uttered, none of us followed the trail. Instead we all as if in agreement walked along the flat plateau to the top of the waterfall.

From that vantage point, there were panoramic views across the escarpment towards Barberton. None of the photographs provides an indication of the depth of the gorge.

View across the gorge from on top of the waterfall.

View across the gorge from on top of the waterfall.

Arnold and I bade Clive and Laurie farewell and returned back to Aloe Khaya along the strip road and climbed straight back into our sleeping bags. By 13:00 we were all fast asleep. Instead of our convivial alfresco suppers around the braai, it was a quick trip to cook our meat and no more.

Laurie gazing down the waterfall by crawling to the edge

Laurie gazing down the waterfall by crawling to the edge

Feeling rather remorseful we duly elected that we would not be as slothful on the following day. We solemnly averred that on Sunday [24th August 2014] all of us would hike the gorge and obtain a close-up view of the waterfall from the pool at the bottom.

By Sunday morning such resolve had dissipated. The resolute determination of the previous night had morphed into sullen and grudging acceptance of the task at hand.  It was not an alluring prospect.With Arnold moping for Lauren, the plan was again curtailed. The final version would have us driving to the gorge, walking down the one side to the foot of the waterfall and then back up the same way rather than via the opposite side which is how it should be hiked.

Five Assegais August 2014#7Maybe it was the cold, perhaps it was old age or possibly it was the work pressure that needed to be released, but whatever it was, this was actually the type of hike that all four of the stalwart members of Quo Vadis required over this weekend.


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