That morning we leave Royal Natal and head south. The moutains go for hundreds of kilometers and there are numerous Parks and camping spots along the range. Looking at the maps we end up heading, more or less randomly, towards Monks Cowl. As we drive there is a bone chilling wind blowing across the grasslands. We arrive at about two o clock. I tell the Parks officer that we intend to camp up in the mountains. She clearly doesn’t think its a very good idea with the current weather and with only a few hours left in the day, but this time I’m not having a bar of it. Rain or shine I’m determined to sleep amoungst the peaks. Sophie is also keen. She says so, but looks a bit worried.
The weather is grim as we pack our bags and trudge off down the trail. It is a fairly steep climb. As we get higher up the sky starts to clear. At one point we round a corner to see the valley spread out before us just as the sun has broken through the clouds. It is beautiful. At this point I am snapping away with my camera and am very excited.
The path winds a bit further up and from the steep, rocky path, we suddenly find ourselves on top of the lower hills and walking along grassy, rolling plains. It’s very flat and lovely to walk on, but behind us are the most amazing views, and before us Cathkin peak looms above the plains, purple, and with its head disappearing into the clouds. Amongst the grass are all kinds of different wild flowers. Although there is a cold wind whipping across the plain, I am far too excited to notice the cold.
We walk to “Blindman’s corner”, and as its starting to get dark, we look for a place to set up camp. There is a sign for a camping spot pointing along a path, but we don’t know how far it is and end up setting up on a more or less flat area of grass. Our tent is alone on miles of grassy plains high on the berg.
It rains all night and the wind keeps blowing, but we are snug and dry in our tent. We have to weave ourselves in between the lumps from the tufts of grass underneath. The next day it is cloudy and wet, but we set off with day packs towards a spot on the map called Hlathikulu Nek. The water on the grass soaks our socks, and by the time we stop for a snack my trousers are soaked up to my thighs. We wring out the water from our socks, and put them back on. The view when we get there is totally worth it. Like scenery form Lord of the Rings. We end up looking down a valley towards a peak called “Dragon’s Back”. It is a huge ridge of jagged rock and pinnacles and the cloud seems to be burning off it like smoke. Nearer to us was a tall mountain capped by rock, but with a huge hole through the rock, like an eye. The grass on either side of the river is different shades of green, something we later found was caused by burning, the greener grass being more recently burnt.
During the afternoon the clouds had cleared, but as we walk back to our tent, I could see the clouds hitting the edge of the hills and forming big plumes and coming gradually towards us until we were engulfed. Time to retire to the tent.
In the morning it is quite clear on the plains, but below them is all in cloud. We very reluctantly put our cold wet clothes back on and pack up. As we walk towards the edge, the clouds come up to meet us and we are surrounded by mist, the steep slope next to the path descends into whiteness. We get back to the car soaking wet. It is so good to have a hot shower and put on some dry clothes! Then we are off again, next stop, Durban.

That morning we leave Royal Natal and head south. The moutains go for hundreds of kilometers and there are numerous Parks and camping spots along the range. Looking at the maps we end up heading, more or less randomly, towards Monks Cowl. As we drive there is a bone chilling wind blowing across the grasslands. We arrive at about two o clock. I tell the Parks officer that we intend to camp up in the mountains. She clearly doesn’t think its a very good idea with the current weather and with only a few hours left in the day, but this time I’m not having a bar of it. Rain or shine I’m determined to sleep amoungst the peaks. Sophie is also keen. She says so, but looks a bit worried.

The weather is grim as we pack our bags and trudge off down the trail. It is a fairly steep climb. As we get higher up the sky starts to clear. At one point we round a corner to see the valley spread out before us just as the sun has broken through the clouds. It is beautiful. At this point I am snapping away with my camera and am very excited.

The path winds a bit further up and from the steep, rocky path, we suddenly find ourselves on top of the lower hills and walking along grassy, rolling plains. It’s very flat and lovely to walk on, but behind us are the most amazing views, and before us Cathkin peak looms above the plains, purple, and with its head disappearing into the clouds. Amongst the grass are all kinds of different wild flowers. Although there is a cold wind whipping across the plain, I am far too excited to notice the cold.

We walk to “Blindman’s corner”, and as its starting to get dark, we look for a place to set up camp. There is a sign for a camping spot pointing along a path, but we don’t know how far it is and end up setting up on a more or less flat area of grass. Our tent is alone on miles of grassy plains high on the berg.

It rains all night and the wind keeps blowing, but we are snug and dry in our tent. We have to weave ourselves in between the lumps from the tufts of grass underneath. The next day it is cloudy and wet, but we set off with day packs towards a spot on the map called Hlathikulu Nek. The water on the grass soaks our socks, and by the time we stop for a snack my trousers are soaked up to my thighs. We wring out the water from our socks, and put them back on. The view when we get there is totally worth it. Like scenery form Lord of the Rings. We end up looking down a valley towards a peak called “Dragon’s Back”. It is a huge ridge of jagged rock and pinnacles and the cloud seems to be burning off it like smoke. Nearer to us was a tall mountain capped by rock, but with a huge hole through the rock, like an eye. The grass on either side of the river is different shades of green, something we later found was caused by burning, the greener grass being more recently burnt.

During the afternoon the clouds had cleared, but as we walk back to our tent, I could see the clouds hitting the edge of the hills and forming big plumes and coming gradually towards us until we were engulfed. Time to retire to the tent.

In the morning it is quite clear on the plains, but below them is all in cloud. We very reluctantly put our cold wet clothes back on and pack up. As we walk towards the edge, the clouds come up to meet us and we are surrounded by mist, the steep slope next to the path descends into whiteness. We get back to the car soaking wet. It is so good to have a hot shower and put on some dry clothes! Then we are off again, next stop, Durban.