From Grey­ton to Mc­Gre­gor

Public Sector Manager - - Travel - Writer: Duane Stacey Pho­tog­ra­pher: Estie An­der­ssen

Where to start? That is the ques­tion in my head as I try to un­pack an in­cred­i­ble hike through na­ture's finest scenery. It started off or­di­nar­ily enough, driv­ing through the quaint lit­tle town of Grey­ton, in the Western Cape, look­ing for a place to park our car and head out on an overnight ad­ven­ture.

Af­ter a quick cof­fee at one of the lo­cal restau­rants and a re­assess­ment of our de­par­ture point, it is with some trep­i­da­tion that we find shade near a struc­ture which seems to re­sem­ble the start of some hik­ing trails and set off on quite a rapid as­cent.

It's not long be­fore we reach a sum­mit and the path turns us back in the di­rec­tion from which we came. Some out of breath mut­ter­ings among the group sug­gest that we are not en­tirely sure if we are on the cor­rect trail. This is con­firmed as our ini­tial un­du­lat­ing trail spits us out, near our car but at the start of Grey­ton na­tional park sit­u­ated at the bot­tom of Na­rina street.This short up and down de­tour would pre­pare us well for what lay ahead.

It cer­tainly is not the flat­test hike and some de­gree of fit­ness is strongly en­cour­aged as you make your way along the Boes­man­skloof Trail, which winds its way through the Rivier­son­derend Moun­tains that sep­a­rate the two vil­lages of Grey­ton and Mc­Gre­gor.

Mag­nif­i­cent view­point

The early jeep track leads you up to­wards a mag­nif­i­cent view­point called Break­fast Rock. Aptly named, the break­fast snacks were passed around as we took some time to ap­pre­ci­ate the hard work it had taken to get to this point.

It's well worth tak­ing a breather here as the uphill bat­tle con­tin­ues all the way to sig­nage in­di­cat­ing the “Boes­man­skloof Hik­ing Trail”. About 7km in marks the be­gin­ning of your de­cent into a world of beau­ti­ful Cape Fyn­bos wild­flow­ers, steep gorges and tran­quil rock pools. Of course, the birdlife is ex­quis­ite and if you are quiet and lucky enough, you may catch sight of some wild an­i­mals like duiker, grey rhe­buck, klip­springer, ba­boon, dassie, spot­ted genet and leop­ards.

On a hot sum­mer's day, the re­fresh­ing sound of a wa­ter­fall is too good to re­sist and even though the legs are weary there seems to be a cer­tain fresh­ness among the group as the pace quick­ens down a stair­case that has been crafted into the moun­tain­side.The wa­ter is cold and of­fers us the op­por­tu­nity to re­fill our low sup­plies of wa­ter. Some in the group opt to fully im­merse them­selves in the wa­ter as many of the aches and pains from the day's trav­els cease to ex­ist in this mo­ment of par­adise.

Lus­cious par­adise

The top pool can get very busy as many hik­ers make their way down for a lunch-time stop, but this lus­cious par­adise ex­tends fur­ther down­river into mul­ti­ple other pools. If you are look­ing for a bit more pri­vacy, it is well worth mak­ing your way down­stream to a place where oth­ers would not even know you were sit­ting.

The wa­ter­fall stop marks 9km into the walk leav­ing just 5km to com­plete the 14km trail. How­ever, this is where the trail re­ally be­gins to feel like you are in the mid­dle of the moun­tains as sin­gle tracks me­an­der along the river and through some over­grown sec­tions.

In the quiet­ness of our foot­steps it is ev­i­dent that the birdlife is thriv­ing as dif­fer­ent calls echo through the val­ley. We reach a small over­hang­ing cave which would of­fer an­other great rest point, but know­ing we are close to the fin­ish we push on, ig­nor­ing the last of­fer of shade.

Fi­nal des­ti­na­tion

In hind­sight this was a mis­take, as sud­denly the path shoots ver­ti­cally as we as­cend out of the val­ley to the huts sil­hou­et­ted into the main­tain peaks. It is only 1km, but without a doubt the tough­est kilo­me­tre we have faced to­day. As a group we are de­feated just a few hun­dred me­tres from our fi­nal des­ti­na­tion. Heav­ing oxy­gen into our lungs we re­group slowly and trudge the fi­nal few steps to what would be home for the night.

Die Galg is a group of huts run by Barry and his wife Ruth Ooost­huizen. They of­fer all the ameni­ties one might need for an overnight stay.We are par­tic­u­larly happy that we did not need to carry any bed­ding or food, although on this scorch­ing day as we clam­bered up the fi­nal steps we were con­cerned that we had not or­dered enough liq­uid re­fresh­ments. For­tu­nately, Ruth is ac­com­mo­dat­ing. She has been do­ing the shop­ping for hik­ers for many years and spot­ted this flaw in our or­der, so when we opened the fridge on ar­rival there were many sighs of re­lief.

Start­ing the hike be­fore 8am meant a 3pm ar­rival and we now had the rest of the day to spend around the pool, retelling tales from the day.Thou­sands of su­gar birds jos­tle for po­si­tion on the brightly coloured flow­ers which are farmed around the huts and it is th­ese sounds and the crack­ling of fire­wood that we en­joy as the sun sets over a beau­ti­ful day in the moun­tains.To­mor­row we would do it all again in re­verse.

For more in­for­ma­tion call028 254 9414/9564 or email: [email protected]­ton­tourism.com. You will re­quire a hik­ing per­mit which can be bought at theGrey­ton Tourism of­fice.

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