My birthday was coming up and I wanted to do something a little less traditional for a change – of course I chose to do a hike. I was deciding between the route from Jonkershoek to Franschhoek and the hike to Victoria Peak, but decided that the former would be much more enjoyable.
I had invited a bunch of friends and in my excitement I had made everyone maps and bought champagne. This was also a chance for me to test out my new Osprey backpack.
I awoke at 4:30 on the morning, got dressed and went to wait for Brian and Khaya. We proceeded to drive through to Franschhoek and left two cars at the end point. A few friends had cancelled and Khaya was not feeling too great so in the end there was four of us left to tackle the 26km hike. Since we were so few, I decided to leave my bottle of champagne (with its ungainly shape and unneeded weight) in the car – Joe had similar thoughts, but I had removed mine and he had the other bottle.
We set off just after 7:00 in the hopes that the skies would clear. The weather reports predicted a cloudy morning and clear skies later on, yet this was not the case.
The night before Joe, Bronwyn and I had made muffins for the trip (catering for 6-8 people), so by the time we reached the end of the gravel road, we decided to stop for a “muffin break” – more out of necessity to finish the muffins than for the break. This was at Langrivierkloof – from here on we would be walking on a path. With the drizzle that started, we all put on our rain jackets and proceeded.
We later joined the Panorama trail and we saw some people I knew. They wished us luck but commented on the drizzle – we were already starting to get wet. A little while later two trail runners came by – I stopped them, and they said they just came from Victoria Peak. According to them the conditions up there were “nasty”.
The fynbos proved to be the real fiend in this tale. Even though the drizzle was light, the fynbos caught all the water and dumped it on us. My waterproof boots were of little help (I had not brought any gaiters) and before we even reached the top of Bergriviernek, my shoes were sloshing. We had hoped to have lunch at the top, but as the trail runners had warned us, the conditions were not ideal.
We decided to keep walking and hoped that the conditions lower down would be better. The path down was extremely steep and with the rain, extremely slippery. This section was a test to see how gracefully we could fall – needless to say we were not very graceful.
Eventually we reached a rock pool at the bottom and decided to have lunch. At this point we were cold and completely soaked, but luckily our spirits were high. I had packed in a gas stove, and made us each a cup of coffee. We passed around sandwiches and (obviously) we had some muffins.
We ventured on and made sure everyone had a turn to walk in front- this person had the unfortunate task of wading through the drenched thicket. The very same rain jacket I had used to to survive when I hiked in the Drakensberg, was of little use here. The water was relentless – we ended up just shaking the plants above each other’s heads. It wasn’t as if we could get any more wet.
We reached the Bergrivier again and decided it was time to stop for champagne. We contemplated swimming, but sensibly decided against it.
From here on we walked on an old forestry road – out of any thicket. The sun also decided to make it’s first appearance for the day. At this point I had gained a bad reputation. I had initially stated that we would walk 21km. I changed it to 23km the day before we left. By the end it was 26km.
We finally reached the dam (Bergrivier) which heralded the end of our hike. We had walked 26km in rain, over a period of 10 hours. It was well worth the trip, although I would love to redo it with clear skies!
Max elevation: 1077 m
Min elevation: 240 m
Total climbing: 1169 m
Total time: 09:39:12