Nice when a long held dream finally comes true. Since around 2001 I’ve had this vision of creating a hiking trail from Simonskloof to Montagu and eventually connecting with Swellendam. I started with the first section from Nuy Valley to Simonskloof in 2003 and after several rebuilds due to fires and floods, added Simonskoof-Langdam in 2010.
This year I was asked to join an even bigger vision: The Rim of Africa, a 650km mountain passage from Pakhuis pass in the northern Cederberg via the Hex River mountain and the Langeberg all the way to the Outeniqua mountains in the East – not just as part of the trail, but to guide participants along the Rim on stage 5, from the Hex River Valley via Simonskloof to Montagu.
On the 16th October I joined my group of mountain hikers, local and from overseas, at Die Tolhuis outside Ceres heading for Milner peak over into the Hex River valley. However, due to bad weather conditions, snow prediction and zero visibility on Milner, we had to transfer on day 4 to Nuy Valley and hiked the Gecko Trail as a welcome alternative, including its adventurous 14 river crossings and a final scramble up the boulderous Cobra ravine.
For the following two days it rained, so we stuck it out at Simonskloof (lucky me) getting ready for the next four days to Montagu. Monday the 22nd full backpacks were hoisted and in good spirit we headed for Arangieskop. There the hut and its fireplace kept us nicely sheltered from the 4° outside while we dried our boots and feasted on freeze dried Moroccan lamb with couscous. The following day saw us descend along the hiking trail, by-passing the dangerously steep Vensterbank and re-join the ridge by the evening. That night we slept in our tents with a howling south wind plucking on the guylines.
Day 9 started in thick mist but by the time we reached Olifantskop it had cleared and we were blessed with a vista better to none and in true Rim style we scrambled along the very top of the ridge to our camp at Waterfallkop, much better sheltered then the night before.
Our last morning on top of the Langeberg was greeted by a perfect glowing red sunrise, dry flysheets and a good coffee made from water we had collected out of rock puddles.The journey continued past the trig beacon, then down the “Swoosh” were we finally found fresh spring water again, hence it was time for a much deserved tea break. One “last” climb back up to the ridge and by lunch time we had reached Bloupunt, overlooking Montagu.
We descended on the established hiking trail with some sever flood damage and overgrowth shortly before the Klipspringer Cabins. Here Lola, Pete and Galeo welcomed us with ice cold beers and a mean lekker lamb and waterblommetjies potjie. A restful night followed and the next morning we walked out back into civilisation but our hearts remained on the mountains…
If you are interested in “walking” the Rim of Africa visit their website.
In 2013 another 3 stages will be added, finishing at the Outeniqua mountains.
You owe it to yourself AND to the mountain!
For more images of stage 4 & 5 visit our Facebook page.