Go back to Lucifer.
Go back to South Africa.
Du Toits Kloof Mountains.
The following morning greeted us with socked in conditions and a light drizzle. We enjoyed a slow breakfast, packed up camp and made our way back down to the car in time for an in-town lunch.
Later that day, we drove to a trailhead in the Du Toits Kloof Mountains. The goal for the afternoon was to hike up to an alpine hut which would serve as the staging point for our next objective the following morning. Once again, Ross got some permits for us to access and park on private land. The hike, though mostly along a dirt mountain road, was scenic and largely painless. The views reminded us of the Dolomites and were nowhere close to any notion we might’ve had of South Africa. Our reward was a pretty and well maintained little hut (a generous donation to the Mountain Club of South Africa) with a stellar 360 degree alpine panorama and a killer swimming hole nearby. The only downside was a crowd of 6 hikers with whom we’d have to share the first night – nice, friendly folks though. Ross’s plan for the following morning smelled of an epic. Though the objective was clearly visible from the hut, the approach looked absolutely horrendous (bushwhack) and the descent seemed complex to say the least.
Up pre-dawn the following morning. Racked up and ready to go a half hour later…only to find socked in conditions outside. We dilly dallied outside the hut for an hour: go blindly or go back to sleep? In the end, we did not go. The thought of adding low visibility (for the approach, climb and especially descent) and rain potential to what was already shaping up to be a very hard day was too much to contemplate. Instead, we enjoyed a second breakfast and did a scenic, 6 hour hike up Winterberg Peak. Though the clouds mostly cleared by 11am, I can’t say that we had too many regrets. We were back at the hut in the early afternoon in time to enjoy the beautiful, black colored (vegetation and root tannins) swimming hole below the hut.
Amazing how much you can fit into a Corolla…including Shirley (Dec. 2017).
A baboon (one of many) we saw on the drive. This one is posing against the backdrop of Paarl Rocks (Dec. 2017).
Packing up at a trailhead in the Du Toits Kloof Mountains. Looks a little like the Italian Dolomites, no?
Preparing the precious cargo for the ~2 hour hike to the hut (Dec. 2017).
The approach hike to the Agtertafelberg Hut starts out with a nice, juicy elevation loss of a few hundred meters (Dec. 2017).
Our planned objective is somewhere in this photo. The green ground cover is not grass…a significant bushwhack was in the making (Dec. 2017).
Final portion of the (scenic) hike to the Agtertafelberg Hut (owned by MCSA).
Shirley crossing a cool little suspension bridge right before the hut (right side of photo; Dec. 2017).
Shirley ready for a nice fat pour of Pinotage. Photo by Ross (Dec. 2017).
The bridge (Dec. 2017).
Shirley and Ross at the Agtertafelberg Hut. Cooking dinner and generally prepping for the following day’s fun (epic).
Shirley enjoying the ambiance of the hut with a mug of fine South African Pinotage (Dec. 2017).
Late the following morning, a intermittent break in the clouds. Summits would not clear till about 11am (Dec. 2017).
The beautiful Agtertafelberg Hut in the Du Toits Kloof Mountains (Dec. 2017).
The Elands River flowing just below the hut with its inviting swimming pools (Dec. 2017).
The multi-scale beauty of the Du Toits Kloof Mountains (Dec. 2017).
Shirley enjoying the second breakfast after we decided not to go for our objective (Dec. 2017).
Filling up the hut’s water jugs in the morning (Dec. 2017).
Did I mention that Ross’s knowledge of local flora is extensive to say the least? He’s also an avid orchid “hunter”. Here’s one beauty Ross had found near the Agtertafelberg Hut (Dec. 2017).
Views from early on in our hike up Winterberg (Dec. 2017).
Pretty stunning – another flavor of protea (Dec. 2017)?
Subtle beauty (Dec. 2017).
Mostly a gentle uphill hike (Dec. 2017).
Views abounded – both large and small (Dec. 2017).
Erosive forces at work on the area sandstone (Dec. 2017).
Du Toits Kloof Mountains (Dec. 2017).
Another species of orchid (Dec. 2017).
Shirley checking out a protea (Dec. 2017).
A beautiful protea (Dec. 2017).
A lunch break during our hike up to Winterberg’s summit. Photo by Ross (Dec. 2017).
More proteas (Dec. 2017).
More views from the hike up Winterberg (Dec. 2017).
Pretty, pretty (Dec. 2017).
Union break (Dec. 2017).
Blood diamonds (Dec. 2017).
More stunning proteas (Dec. 2017).
Views from the summit of Winterberg (Dec. 2017).
Shirley on the summit of Winterberg Peak (Dec. 2017).
Views were well worth the 3ish hour hike (Dec. 2017).
Almost back at the hut. Photo by Ross (Dec. 2017).
Dolomites (Dec. 2017).
The hut and the swimming holes below (Dec. 2017).
Heading down to the water hole for a refreshing dip. Ross is five steps ahead (Dec. 2017).
Ross enjoying the natural pool. The color of the water is due to plant root tannins (Dec. 2017).
Shirley’s turn (Dec. 2017).
Our companion at the swimming hole (Dec. 2017).
Relaxing in the hut (Dec. 2017).
Careful with those baboons (Dec. 2017).
In the afternoon, a smoke cloud suddenly appeared over the peaks (Dec. 2017).
Hiking out the next morning (Dec. 2017).
What comes down must go back up…the uphill stretch right before the car (Dec. 2017).
Scoping out the climbing areas on the menu for after Christmas. This is looking up at the Yellowwood Amphitheater. Some wildfires have been burning (Dec. 2017).
Checking out the wildfires in progress (Dec. 2017).
Go to Cape Peninsula.
Go back to South Africa.