I’ll be the first to admit that I‘m a pretty useless hiker, while on the other hand, Jono has a positively Marais-like approach to obstacles; and Steve of course used to jog 40km to work every morning, so the less said about him the better. However, I thought it would be nice to go on this hike, because Jeanne was going, so at least I wouldn’t be alone at the back. So I was quite upset when Jeanne decided not to come along on the feeble excuse that her PC wanted to get back to the big city. Not that it would have helped I found out later, Jeanne has just run the comrades, so I would still have been the most pathetic person there. However, on the kit front, I was possibly the most organised I have ever been, and with the least excess baggage. (What do you mean what do I wear if it rains? It doesn't rain here does it?) My last (& first) berg hike was in ’92 with Brian Slater, up Senimatella & down organ pipes, but there were lots of people on the trip who were at least as incompetent as me at hiking, Some of them didn’t even bring drinks!! I froze my butt off in a tent with Brian and Cheryl, with only a benedorm massif and a jacket. Brian and Cheryl seemed cosy enough.
So this time, I took the same benedorm (now fairly trashed) as well as a down bag enhanced with eau de napthalene, woolies thermal underwear I'd bought that afternoon, my gloves, jeans, my Russian rabbit hat, a pair of strops, and a jacket. And when we weren’t hiking, I pretty much wore it all at once. But even more remarkable, I had managed to resist the urge to take a botany textbook, Tai chi manual, climbing rope and harness, or a crate of beer along. For my pains, I immediately inherited Steve’s benzene stove. Well I suppose he had the tent of course, Steve and Jono both had thermarests, which were quite comfy actually. Jono and I drove down to Giant’s castle on Thursday night, and slept by the gate to the reserve. Steve arrived the next morning, we went inside, and hiked to the top of Giants Castle Pass. I did a spirited impersonation of ballast all the way up. The top was completely covered with cloud, which came howling past us at a rate of knots. occasionally rewarding us with flashes of sunset and sudden views of the escarpment.We camped, made fullonski grub, and went to sleep,
The next day we headed north up a huge peak, and had lunch (and Steve’s beers) at the top. The view was very cool. After a chill, we headed down, but within 500m, the sole came off my boot from the toe to the instep. I hiked down to the top of Langalibilele Pass wearing a strop, which trashed my knee fully. We camped above the pass, despite trepidations regarding the locals. I jury rigged my boot with a spare bootlace (thanks Steve) and the awl on my mcgyver knife. Me and Jono played a game of chess, the one luxury I had brought, weighing 5Og. Steve and Jono tried to resurrect the great Benny benzine - Meths stove debate, but unfortunately Jono’s meths stove got it’s arse wipped. For after supper entertainment we pretended to go to sleep and watched to see if any locals were planning to happen by. I think we ate chocolate, looked at some stars, and then went to sleep.
On Sunday we hiked down Langalibilele Pass, my knee was pretty stuffed from hiking with a strop the previous day, but my boot was strong like twenty thousand Russians. There were lots of cyclists for some race at Giant’s Castle, and Heidi & Tony had written some abuse to us in the mountain register. Not the best way to keep your secret weekend away a secret I thought.
Finally, driving back, we remembered that this was the easter weekend, in time to get stuck in a 100km long traffic jam. Next time one of those scum suckers overtakes you in the emergency lane, give Jono a ring and he’ll instruct you how road rage works.