Heritage Day long weekend
The trusty steed was packed and ready on Thursday night and we set off for the Cederberg on Friday after work. The N7 was a convoy of Capetonians who all had the same idea. We arrived at our hut at Driehoek at about 9pm after a 4 hour drive in the rain.
Head for the hills
Saturday morning still looked a bit rainy and we packed the rain jackets just in case. As soon as we started walking, however, the clouds all but disappeared and we were treated to one of those perfect, crisp spring mornings.
With a spring in our step we headed uphill, and were soon surrounded by greenery and magnificent rock formations.
It takes about an hour to walk through this magical landscape of yellow, red and grey rocks but you can easily spend a whole morning here. Every so often Significant Other would find a rusty tin or bucket – “Woodcutter memorabilia” as he likes to call it (“rusted old junk” to you and me). Thank goodness none of it made it home.
A fair amount of uphill brings you onto the jeep track on Die Trap shale band for about 100 metres before you turn of again for – yes – more uphill where an old farmhouse called Die Rif apparently used to stand. A lovely little cedar forest makes a nice spot for some trail mix – peanuts, raisins and M&Ms. Instant energy for what’s next: Gabriels Pass.
Where angels fear to tread
Gabriels Pass looks rather daunting from below but it’s not too bad once you’re on it. And the views are stunning. At the top you can see into the next valley, but to get to Wolfberg Arch you turn right onto another mini-pass which is also quite steep.
Arrive at the top and you immediately start looking out for the much-photographed landmark that is our destination today, but it is not yet evident. Instead there is an eye-boggling landscape that looks like it’s out of an alien movie. Weirdly regular rocks are all around, and crazy creatures follow your every move.
About 3 hours after starting out we finally reach it – Wolfberg Arch. Massive. Impressive. Photo’s can’t do it justice but here goes anyway:
The view into the valley below, looking in the direction of Wolfberg Cracks, is also awe inspiring but a cold howling wind kept us from gazing in that direction for too long. After a few quick photographs (you just can’t help clicking away) we found a sunny spot out of the wind to have our lunch, with the Arch towering over us. Our repast consisted of a can of Chunky Chicken on rye crackers. Don’t worry, it’s quite edible. A family of Cape Rock-jumpers were keen to try some too. (Don’t feed the wildlife though!). They kept us entertained throughout our lunch break with their antics.
Soon the chilly wind became really uncomfortable and we started to make our way back down the way we had come. I spotted what looked like a length of chain out of the corner of my eye which turned out to be a snake, probably a berg adder, Bitis atropos. Before you go Eeeeek! and vow never to leave the house again: we have done a LOT of hiking, much of it in the Magaliesberg and Drakensberg, and I can probably still count on one hand the number of snakes we’ve come across. In fact we may well have passed this guy on our way up and didn’t even see him. Snakes tend to keep out of your way but if you do spot one, take a picture if you like and then go around. Don’t harass them – this will be more likely to earn you a nasty bite than that cool Austin Stevens move you were hoping for.
What goes up…
Soon it was down Gabriels Pass again, past the small cedar grove and through the rock formations where wild flowers were now showing themselves everywhere and in every colour.
The whole walk took us about 6½ hours including snack breaks and lunch, covered 17,7km and 1,000m of ascent. Beats sitting behind a desk 🙂