Saturday, 19 May 2012

Training Hike @ Hennops River

Johannesburg 'summery wintery' days are just out of this was very cool early this morning, but really warmed up nicely as the day progressed!
I booked our hike for today through Jacana Collection online - what an efficient service! Go check them out at - I paid online, they mailed me a permit and Bob's your uncle!

The drive to the Hennops River Hiking Trails only took us about 30-40minutes, way closer than I thought it would be! We stopped at a new filling station about 14km from the gate - we had to get something for brekkie and a snack or two for the hike...found the most amazing soft fresh cheese rolls - yum we enjoyed a few of those on the last km's to the gate!

It really is amazing how close to home we were, but how different everything is - you have to appreciate the quiet, the sound of a calling eagle and rushing fresh water...amazing!
With loaded packs - mine was stuffed with books again at the bottom, cameras, binocs, snacks, water, juice and a first aid kit - it was bulging at the seams :-) - we got the map from a staff member and proceeded through the gate...

The first sight you see is the amazing Hennops River - a mini waterfall and some rapids - and then you can either turn left for the Krokedilberg trail or straight on for the shorter Zebra route.  We hooked it left and we were off - it was chilly!
The hike is beautiful and it was also quite busy this morning - many hiking clubs have braais/days out there, as well as many church/youth groups-we overtook quite a few groups! The climbs are steep, rocky and dusty, but the views really just take your breath away (and not the steep hill yay).

The terrain varies from rocky climbing patches to flat dry riverbeds - we also passed through what I called "the valley of the giant aloes" - the track is really well thought out and very clearly marked.  There were only one or two occasions where we had to look properly as some people had clearly gone off the marked trail (only to rejoin it after a few meters anyway).

The hardest part of the hike today were the very steep downhill climbs - we were very high up on the koppies and had to descend into the valley below...major concentration was needed and it was strange moving through 'hot pockets' where the sun really baked!  The descent is quite long and windy, followed by some zig zagging through cow pastures and then all of a sudden you head right back up and wind up towards the koppies again...just when your thighs really start feeling the burn, it evens out and so it goes...

There is a long and windy patch of hiking through the dry river feels like it goes on for miles and miles and the dry dust can cause havoc with your sinus issues, but nothing better than clearing the mind of all our city issues for a couple of hours!

The end of this hike is the really fun part! You get to strap into a metal basket and literally swing across the river to the end! We even had a little dog to greet us - it said "James" on his collar - he didn't look like a James to me though - he seemed quite at home on the wrong side of the river!  Another hiker helped to pull us up the final stretch at the end and told us that the dog was actually on the right side, but as they got off to send the basket to their friends, he just hopped on board and rode across the river!! Shame I hope James got home ok...although I'm sure he lives there!

The hike took us just over 3hours, absolutely awesome and I would do it again and again! It's also a great family day out...

We spoilt ourselves with a lovely pub lunch down the road at 'The old Rose' and thereafter a lovely nap!  Tomorrow it's the Westcliff steps again!! Yay can't wait...

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