October 7, 2013
Today, I’m continuing with my posts about my recent backpacking trip along the Tsitsikamma Trail in South Africa with my husband Jackie and five of our friends. Earlier today, I realized that blogging about my Tsitsikamma Trail trip this week is appropriate since this is Earth Science Week and The Geological Society is encouraging people to participate in what they are calling, “The Great Geology Walk”. This event is aimed at getting, “as many people as possible will take notice of the geology all around them during this year’s Earth Science Week.” The Geological Society is encouraging people to share pictures of the geology they observe around them and also encouraging people to participate in organized and self-guided geology walks. This week I’m pretty busy with my day job and also with paper revisions in the evenings, so I guess my geology walk will be virtual. I’ll relive (and share with my blog readers) my Tsitsikamma Trail hike. Perhaps on Friday afternoon or Saturday I can escape for a real-life geology walk as well!
Today I’ll be blogging about Day #2 of the Tsitsikamma Trail hike. On Day #2 we hiked approximately 17 km from Kalander Hut to Blaauwkrans Hut. The trail website says that the hike is 13.5 km, but the trail website is out-of-date. The day’s hike has been re-routed and lengthened to about 17 km, making the hike long and challenging. We didn’t realize that the trail had been re-routed until after we were more than halfway done with the hike. I think that was actually a good thing! Once we were more than halfway done, we decided that we may as well carry on to the next hut!
In any case, although we were exhausted, very hungry, and quite sore when we finally arrived at Blaauwkrans Hut in the late afternoon, the hike was well worth the effort and the little aches and pains. The trail wound its way from the beach, up a steep escarpment, across mountain fynbos, and through indigenous afromontane forest. Along the way, we saw fossils; tilted Table Mountain sandstones; rusty red, coca-cola colored streams and waterfalls; giant protea flowers and tall, tall yellowwood trees; various animal footprints; a large land snail; and many other wonderful sights. At the end of the 17 km hike, we arrived at the hut, which is in a truly breathtakingly beautiful location. The hut is perched on the edge of a deep ravine and overlooks a double waterfall.
The hike started out by passing an outcrop with fossils, which made me quite happy:
The fossil outcrop is located just a few minutes’ walk from the Kalander Hut. I wasn’t able to find (in a quick Google search, at least) any information about the fossils, but they look like fairly young shell fossils in loosely-consolidated sediments of a vegetation-covered beach dune. If anyone knows any more about the fossils near Kalander Hut, please let me know. I’d love to learn more about them.
After the group dragged me away from the fossil outcrop, we started the steep hike up the escarpment and into the Tsitsikamma Mountains. After we finished huffing and puffing our way up onto the escarpment, we were rewarded with a beautiful view of the Nature’s Valley beach below:
After we recovered from the steep start to the hike, we continued along the trail, which cut through rich mountain fynbos vegetation:
Here’s a pretty protea plant we saw:
Here’s the group on the trail:
We didn’t encounter many animals along the trail, but we did observe many animal tracks. Here are a couple of the tracks we saw:
After awhile, we made our way into the indigenous afromontane forest. The forest felt very old and magical and was full of tall trees (such as yellowwood trees), bright red and orange mushrooms, and thick green vegetation. I felt almost as if I had stepped into a fairytale world. I half expected to encounter hobbits, elves, or fairies along the path.
We stopped for lunch by a coca-cola colored waterfall cascading over some Table Mountain sandstone rocks:
We didn’t stop for lunch for too long because it started to rain:
Fortunately, we (well, at least two of us!) were well-prepared for the rain:
After a couple more hours of hiking through the forest, we arrived at the jeep track leading to the Blaauwkrans Hut:
We followed the jeep track for a few kilometers. As we continued, we could see the Bloukrans Bridge in the distance:
If you dare, you can bungee jump from the Bloukrans Bridge.
We also passed some impressively tilted Table Mountain sandstone:
We also walked across some leisegang weathering:
At long last, we arrived at Blaauwkrans Hut:
Here are some more views of the hut and its associated facilities:
Last but not least, here is the view from the front porch of the sleeping hut:
Isn’t that double waterfall stunning? Here’s a closer view:
Here’s a picture of Jackie and me on the front porch of the hut:
We saw some animals during our stay at Blaauwkrans Hut. We saw a troop of baboons hanging out above the waterfall:
We also saw a genet, but it moved too quickly for us to take a picture.
Well, that’s it for Day #2 of the Tsitsikamma Trail. Stay tuned for Day #3!