OORLOGSKLOOF (Day 5) – Final


October 2021

10.7km (6.6 miles) – According to brochure

8.5km (5.2 miles) – Our distance

  • Estimated time to complete according to brochure: 5 – 7 hours
  • Our time: 4 hours

Hmm, do you wonder why ‘our’ distance is shorter than the brochure’s distance?

I can give you one word …

… CHIMNEY!

When Berto read the brochure last night, he smiled slightly and said: “Guess what? There is another chimney on tomorrow’s stage”.

According to the brochure: “The trail seemingly comes to a dead at a sheer cliff. However, careful inspection reveals a chimney with a ladder to your right. The section that follows is quite taxing – you have to make your way slowly over, around, underneath and past a jumble of enormous boulders”.

My short answer: “No ways!”

Fortunately, Berto found an alternative way 😄. The Day 5 route and the One Day circular route follow the same path from our hut. Before turning off to the dreaded chimney, the trail splits … we will then follow the One Day Trail (thus missing the chimney… thank you for small miracles)!

Following the same double track we used yesterday to reach the hut

Yesterday, somewhere on top of the plateau, I got a signal on my cellphone. We quickly checked the weather and realised that today will be a hot-hot day – temperatures will rise to 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit).

Although we will have a much shorter distance to complete today, we left the hut at around 6:45 to avoid walking in the heat.

‘Groot Tuin’ is where we began 5 days ago … and now we’re on our way back … happy days!

For days we read that there would be some rock paintings on the trail … but we missed it every time. Not far from our hut this morning we saw another sign for rock paintings and followed the path to a large rock. We could vaguely see some figures (probably of animals) on the rock.

Rock paintings (unfortunately, the upcoming sun made taking a photo quite difficult)

If I had any illusion that today would be easy(ier), that thought disappeared quickly! We had a hill to climb to get back on top of the plateau – of course!

We reached a forested gorge and after ascending steadily for about 20 minutes, we left the shady forest behind.

Finding our way through a forested gorge
We used the trees to pull ourselves up the hill

For the next 45 minutes it was a scramble again. By using ladders and chains to lift ourselves up and over large rocks… I’m really tired after 5 days of climbing rocks!

Phew, eventually back on top of the plateau

For the past 4 days, Berto has had the habit of ‘announcing’ when there is a ladder ahead of us. The same happened today just after we reached the plateau … where I usually took a deep breath before climbing the ladders, I had a good laugh this time!

This must be the shortest ladder on the route

From here, it was a short walk of about 500m to the viewpoint of the ‘Knersvlakte’ (the same panoramic we saw on yesterday’s route).

Only 250m to the viewpoint (and also the split in the route for Day 5 and the One Day circular route). We are now following the One Day route

But as soon as we reached the open plateau, a very strong wind greeted us … we knew we did not dare to go too close to the edge, because the wind comes from the east and we can easily just blow over the cliff! That was quite scary!

Berto managed to take one quick photo of the ‘Knersvlakte’

The wind was so strong, that Berto got hold of my hand … it almost felt as if the wind was lifting me off my feet (while carrying a heavy backpack)! I was glad when the path veered slightly away from the edge of the plateau!

There was a gale force wind on top of the plateau
Fortunately, the path veered away from the edge

We were still treated with some pretty flowers on our last day! This was always a highlight for me … to see how these flowers grow so spontaneously almost out of the rocks!

For the last time, the path turned again close to the edge of the plateau. Here a beacon was packed and we quickly took pictures before we finally moved back inland.

As we moved away from the edge of the plateau, the wind stopped blowing completely – it was almost surreal – but now it was getting very hot! Fortunately for us, we reached a few rock pools and splashed the cool mountain water over our faces.

Rock pools on the plateau

We could hear the bark of baboons for a while now and it was getting louder and louder. Near our path was a big flat rock … and this is where a whole bunch of baboons sat. It was clear that we were moving towards their territory and they only got quiet when the path moved away from them.

The baboons were not so happy that we were walking in their direction

For the last time we walked on a sandy path with trees on both sides … and we were surprised to find small red berries on the trees. It looked like a pine tree, but learned afterwards that it’s actually a Yew tree (an evergreen tree).

A close up shot of the berries of the Yew tree

It was now becoming REALLY hot! We drank almost all our water and knew we still had to go down into the valley and climb another hill before we would reach ‘Groot Tuin’ (our destination). We could hear the sound of water as we came around a bend and to our delight, saw a stream of mountain water flowing over a flat rock bed! While Berto was filling our water bottles, I sat next to the stream and drank the cold sweet mountain water – lovely!!

It tasted like nectar – wonderful cold water!

As mentioned on the brochure, the path now veered down into the valley … through dense trees and over a couple of rocks.

Busy finding our way through a couple of trees down into the valley
In the valley, we crossed the Oorlogskloof River one last time over this bridge

The route follows the riverbed until we had to ascend to the top of the plateau (one final time). We rested for a while in the shade of a stone cave (all that climbing on a hot day was brutal)! And then … at last, we reached the junction that returns to ‘Groot Tuin’!

And one last time, we had to find our way over huge boulders
We last saw this sign on our first day – just 1.3km to the end!

And then it happened … with our eyes now on the huge trees in front of us (where our car was parked), we had to climb one last set of rocks … and this is where Berto twisted and injured his ankle!

Literally seconds after I took this photo, Berto injured his ankle

With only 1km to go, we were relieved that this happened so close to the end! At least he was still able to walk – although now much slower.

Berto posed at this ruin on our first day … now it was my turn
47km … NO … 51km (that 4km of the first day definitely counts)!!
Walking over the last rocks … those trees in front of us, is the end point

After a grueling 5 days on a hiking trail that made me cry and almost quitting – it literally had me on my knees and bum – I was so excited to reach the end!

A huge shiny medal to Berto! Under his watchful eyes and encouragement, I started and finished each day. I know I tested his patience quite a bit and the fact that we are still married after this hike, speaks volumes! 😄

Day 5 – Route map (the original trail is in red, we followed the blue trail)
Day 5 – Elevation map
Leaving Oorlogskloof after the most exhausting trail we ever done!

Uncle Tony’s Cabin:

We only had to drive 15km to get to our overnight accommodation – Uncle Tony’s Cabin … with real beds and oh how wonderful – a BATH with RUNNING WATER!

Uncle Tony’s Cabin

And by now, our regular readers will know what we did next … we had a wonderful ‘braai’!

Time for a compliment:

Before we started our hiking trip, we bought meat in Nieuwoudtville. The question was how we would be able to keep this refrigerated until we finished the hike. Oorlogskloof Hiking office in Nieuwoudtville then arranged that they will keep our meat refrigerated with them (as well as the wood we bought) and then deliver it to Uncle Tony’s Cabin before we arrive there. That was really nice of them and we were happy to sit down on Sunday and enjoy one of the best braai’s ever!

Time to celebrate – with a fire
I don’t drink brandy – but felt this was now appropriate to celebrate our ‘victory’ over Oorlogskloof!
A meal fit for THE king and queen of the mountains!

When we arrived in Nieuwoudtville at the beginning of our hiking trip, we came across an old friend. We bought a bottle of red wine from Anton at his store and now was a great time to open that bottle and enjoy the last sunrays of the day!

Cheers on conquering Oorlogskloof Hiking Trail
Sunset at Nieuwoudtville
  • Will we do this hike again … NEVER!
  • Are we glad we’ve done it … Absolutely!
Categories: South African Break Aways

51 comments

  1. Fabulous experience all round guys: many congratulations on finishing it all in one piece (just about!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations! You survived! What an amazing adventure. Thanks for sharing. Mel

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One you will never forget but can be very proud you did it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Baie geluk julle twee!😀🥇 Julle verdien elkeen ‘n medalje om daardie roete te kan voltooi! Ek het regtig die reeks baie geniet!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hurray, you finished the walk and deserved that celebration! I will say again, NO WAY could I do this 🙄 Well done!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Cheers. Ja, wraggies! Veels geluk! Wat ‘n staproete!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Congratulations! What a great adventure. I hope Bert’s ankle is okay. Maggie

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Congratulations on a huge achievement. That trail sounds like hell. But it also sounds amazing.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Wow Corna you are both amazing! I’ve been enthralled with every minute detail of this expedition and you are so strong and courageous, it’s unbelievable. I hope Berti’s ankle soon recovered and your muscles were eased with a good mattress and hot bath. Congratulations to you both on your massive achievement. On a different note, I read your poignant note to dear Hannah on her devastating news and how close to death she came. I’m so sorry to read that you also suffered problems conceiving but it is gratifying to learn that you rebuilt your life and are enjoying it to it’s best.. I feel so grateful to have two healthy sons but life is so unfair to many. For instance my Mum was 43 when I was born and my twin sister only lived two days so I reflect on what life might have been like to have a sibling to share moments with. I do so hope we get to meet one day, I feel confident that we will and I look forward to it immensely. Marion x

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment Marion! This hike surely made me realise we are capable of so much more than what we believe. And thank you, we have now (almost) recovered from Oorlogskloof … all the scratches have healed and Berto’s ankle is much better (it was fortunately only a light muscle injury).
      And thank you for your kind words on our conceiving problems. It was not an easy path, but it’s wonderful that we both came through this – and still positive about life (with much prayer I must add ☺️). While having my miscarriages, I worked at a big private hospital and part of my job was to take photo’s of the still born babies and have conversations with the mothers (and fathers) who lost their babies … and strange how it might sound, that helped me a lot to deal with our own lost. I’m so sorry for your loss as well – like you’ve said, there are those days when you just think how life would have been … but in the end, we still have to live our lives as it is.
      I really hope we get the opportunity to meet each other – that will be a wonderful day … whether it’s here in sunny South Africa or lovely and green UK 🌸

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Congratulations! Nice ending at Uncle Tony’s! Hope Berto’s ankle has healed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you 🌸. Absolutely, Uncle Tony’s cabin was the perfect way of ending this hike! And thank you, Berto’s ankle is almost back to normal … ready for the next adventure 😄. Thanks for popping in and reading about our Oorlogskloof Hike.

      Like

  11. Corna and Berto – you are AMAZING. What an incredible achievement. I hope Berto’s ankle recovered quickly, and that you have been enjoying the luxuries of comfy beds, long baths, hot showers and lots of food since. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah, thank you so much for your kind words Hannah! Berto’s ankle is almost back to normal (ready for the next adventure 👀) and we are definitely still enjoying all things that we missed on this trails … especially the showers 😄. Thanks for reading about our Oorlogskloof Hike. Hope you’re doing ok, take care. Corna 💌.

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  12. Congrats on surviving the hike! Can you imagine if there was no alternative route and you had to climb another one of those chimneys!? And in that heat!? Yikes. Sorry to hear that Berto twisted his ankle, but thankfully it happened so close to the end. I bet taking a proper shower at Uncle Tony’s Cabin sure felt amazing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks! I was so happy for that alternative route … another chimney … don’t think I would have survive that 😁! You are absolutely right about that shower … to open the tap and see running water – amazing!! I can’t even imagine how things would have worked out if Berto’s injury happened earlier on the hike … fortunately, his ankle is much better (and he’s ready for our next adventure)! Thank you so much for following our Oorlogskloof Hike – hope to see you again on our travels. Take care, Corna 🌸

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Ok here goes…. take 2… hopefully forces of nature won’t stop this message again. Well…. this truly looked and sounded like The Final Reckoning, so to speak. The short ladder actually made me laugh out loud, while I was amazed at the sight of wild baboons. You really had it all on these hikes eh? Also, that final cabin looked like the best of the bunch and a fitting reward for your achievements.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Absolutely Leighton … like you said, we had it all! Glad this one is done and dusted. I was wondering about that short ladder – I mean, even I could climb up this rock without the ladder! We saw so many wild baboons, but this was the only time we had the energy to take a photo … quite loud, these guys! As for Uncle Tony’s Cabin – it felt like 5-star … running water and a comfy bed!
      Thanks for reading and commenting on our Oorlogskloof Hike – much appreciated. See you again with our next adventure!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Such an amazing outing. Such a great hike and achievement..but it might a bit tough for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Wow, what an arduous challenging trek but you made it out of there alive – well done! I’m impressed.
    The fire looks wonderful and your meal also looks scrumptious. Isn’t it amazing how all you need is a comfy bed and some hot food in your belly and all that pain is soon forgotten… 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Such an amazing achievement, congratulations to you both! Besides perseverance, you must’ve learned many other life lessons, I for sure did as a reader. I hope hubby’s ankle is much better by now but I’m sure you have many other bruises (trophies) to remind you of this hiking trail. Thank you for taking me along your trip, it was fantastic 👏🏼🌸💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Henrietta! I think with every event in life, we should always take something positive with us … and this hike surely learned me a lot about myself (and the amazing relationship between me and my husband). And thank you, Berto’s ankle is much better (it took some time to recover) and the bruises are now just light scars 😉 (I like how you refer to it as ‘trophies’)! Thank you for coming along – glad you enjoyed our hike 💌.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I’m so glad you shared this adventure, Corna! You & Berto are the some of the most badassed people I know! I hate that he hurt his ankle, but glad that you were approaching the end when it happened. I love the rock pools, the baboons, and the small ladder! I appreciate your taking me along by way of your great storytelling & fun pictures. And I’m happy, for your sake, that it’s over! 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you dear Lisa for coming along on our Oorlogskloof Hiking Trail … it was fun, adventurous, scary and mad all in one! This is one trail that probably won’t see us again (but we can’t deny the fact that we saw a beautiful part of nature). That small ladder was so funny 😄 and yes … I’m soooo glad this one is done and dusted! Take care, Corna.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I missed seeing this when I was having my latest hospital frolic. I am full of admiration for your stamina. 35 degrees…I think I would have expired. Though it must have been equally hot when I took the misguided journey across Sudan. Our final night at a hotel was not as wonderful as your great brai, but standing under a shower was BLISS. But Sudan was FLAT! Wonderful following your trip. I hope Berto wasn’t too badly injured.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can just imagine that conditions in Sudan must have been challenging … flat and hot! Thank you for hiking with us in Oorlogskloof – it was fun (at times) and I now know that I can do things that I previously thought was impossible 😉. And thanks, Berto is back to his normal self … fortunately only a muscle injury (that took a long time to heal), but he’s ready for our next adventure starting in a week!!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Good to know and I hope you will have a great and memorable adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you … we’re heading to KwaZulu Natal’s north coast (travelling by car very far 😉) … Berto will enjoy scuba diving and shark diving (no, not in a cage … but he will swim between them in the ocean). I hope we all survive to tell the story!

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