On a slippery slope

Trip Start Jan 22, 2010
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Trip End Jan 24, 2010


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Where I stayed
Misty Peaks Stone Villa

Flag of South Africa  , KwaZulu-Natal,
Saturday, January 23, 2010


I can only describe this day as glorious.The weather was playing along with us. It was temperate,the humidity was low and it was not raining. After catching a quick breakfast, we were off to the Drakensberg Hotel where the attendant at the leisure desk gave us advice on the best hike close to the hotel. We decided that we were going to hike the 7km Blue grotto hike. He had told us that the trail had two waterfalls and the trail would take approximately 3 hours to complete.He also warned us that we may come back slightly muddy after the trail. As we started off the trail the extremely wet grass only hinted at the conditions that lay ahead of us. It became increasingly obvious that this trail was more tricky than we planned. The recent rains had made the trail slippery and as we progressed toward the grotto, it became increasingly more treacherous. The first of the three river crossings came as a surprise to us and the crossing set the stage for a moderate but thoroughly rewarding hike that followed. The first of the waterfalls were truly beautiful and thoroughly surprising. The cold pool of water at the base of the fall was truly tempting and after Fred began to wade into the water it became obvious that I was going to follow. The water was cold but refreshing and it was truly a liberating experience. After several slips in the cold water over the next three crossings, the slippery terrain  opened up into the second waterfall. The last river crossing was difficult and our safety was only assured while we were imitating Spider-man.We ended the trail at a wonderful grotto which lead to a pool of water at one end and an overhanging cliff face which provided spectacular views of the waterfall at the other end. We set in the shelter of the cliff face and munched on our trail snacks and enjoying the beauty of our surroundings. 

We eventually decided that we were not going to take the same path that we got us to the grotto. Instead we were going to use an alternative path which we believed would be less challenging. This was not quite the case.We ascended from the river bed through the mud and the rocks on a series of man made steps that seemed to go on forever. We took the opportunity to look at the beautiful plant life and appreciate the wonderful natural beauty that surrounded us. When we eventually reached the top of the hill, we were greeted by amazing gorgeous views. The lush green mountains seemed to stand guard over the surrounding area and you could understand why the range is called the 'barrier of spears'in the local Zulu language while the word Drakensberg actually means 'Dragon Mountain'. The wide open spaces and the overcast grey sky gave me a greater appreciation for the naturally beautiful country that I call home. As we got closer to the hotel, we could only feel a sense of accomplishment and achievement with our efforts in the bush. We were wet, hungry and tired but we had thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The experience itself only leads me to believe that the Drakensberg has a multitude of trails that will challenge any hiker / day walker. 

As we approached the hotel, we noted that we were starving and that we hadn't yet purchased any charcoal for our braai (which is a barbecue over coals).When we finally got back to the chalet, we prepared for the braai - actually Sue and Keev prepared while the rest of us freshened up. It was finally left to Fred to braai the meat and I have to be honest about the fact that he prepared a wonderful evening meal for us. As we ate, the heavens opened up and the finest haze of rain began to fall.The rain accompanied the light chatter and banter which eventually ended up in thoroughly entertaining and rewarding conversations. We ended the night in extremely competitive board games which closed a wonderful and thoroughly enjoyable day. I am definitely starting to feel relaxed and possibly able to degrade gracefully'
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