First thing I have to say is that. The mountains are like living beings that are constantly changing, growing and one can never take and not give back to the Glory that one basks in while in the Mountains.
To the Mountains I go. On the 1st of July, I got a call from a long time friend (Dave) wanting to know if I interested in going up to go up the Southern Drakensberg for 4th and 5th July as he was going to attend an Honorary Officers meeting in Underberg. Who would say no to such an awesome offer? So I hitched a lift to Cobham Wilderness area in the Southern Drakensberg with the plan of doing two runs, a 25km to 30km and a 15km to 20km on Wednesday morning and on Thursday morning.
Wednesday’s run consisted of starting at Cobham main office after arriving and heading up to Lakes cave. The route went via the Giants cup trail to the smuggler’s route from just above Tortoise Rocks to eSiphongweni, the Titty and The Policeman and past the dried up lakes (Tarns) above Lakes Cave. It was amazing and very technical to run the routes that I have only done on overnight Hikes. The First climb was up to Tortoise Rocks and then the fun began as the beautiful manicured Hiking Trails fell away to rough and tufty smugglers and Buck paths all the way to Lakes cave 9km. It was Brutal I am surprised that I did not sprain any of my ankles but muscles around them took a lot of strain. I had some of the most beautiful winter views of the escarpment as t had just rained recently the air was fairly clear of winter smoke.
The rest of the run was less fruitful as I was now running in Hiking paths that are full of hidden obstacles in amongst thick grass. The obstacles include Rocks, Snakes and anti-erosion barriers that can cause one while running to become a superhero for a split second. After a few crashes, I decided that I was to run facing the ground for the next 3km until I was back at camp which ended up being 27km of tough technical trail.
Thursdays Trail run was slightly shorter and a hell of a lot colder as I started running in -4°C and I was frozen, but it was totally worth it, starting early as there was a large herd of Eland in the valley grazing in the lower Veld. The route that I took to Indlovini Dome was along the Giants cup trail to Sani Pass. Once I got to the spur that led to the top of the Dome it was time for up up and away with 2km to the top and 400m elevation gain. The climb was worth every drop of sweat. The view, Breathtaking, as there were heavy fires on Wednesday night so the smoke from the cold was hanging low in the Sani Pass Valley like a wispy blanket shrouding the burn. After a while indulging the view it was time to head down the escarpment side of Indlovini dome amongst the ashes of the fire that tore through the landscape. I headed down into Emerald Stream Valley close to Pinnacle Rock, once I was in the valley the temperature dropped and I noticed that the stream had a thick a layer of ice on top of it as it meanders its way down towards the Polela tiver. The final 3km was fast flowing single track and in total the distance was 16km of amazing hard trail.