What a great place to hike! The campsite at Grootvadersbosch is clean, well grassed and clearly well looked after. Toilet facilities are more than adequate and hot showers, even with limited hot water are a pleasure at the end of a hike. We arrived mid afternoon, set up tents and went for a walk in the forest to admire the Californian Redwoods. Supper and an early night preceeded an early start in the cold conditions the next day.
The first day comprises a looong uphill but not one that is particularly demanding. The slope is generally mild, the views fantastic and the feeling of isolation grows as you walk away from civilisation into the wilderness. We summitted round about 14h00 with a view back towards the campsite and towards Heidelberg. From here we passed behind the mountain peaks, heading towards the Helderfontein huts. This section took quite a lot longer than expected and it is not a path we would like to attempt in growing darkness. Still, we reached the huts around 16h00. The huts themselves are basic in the extreme and are in need of some maintenance. We slept 10 to the larger of the two huts and it would be a squeeze to fit more in. The wind blew continuously down the valley and the first night it really hammered into the hut, blowing the door open several times.
The next day we went to see if we could get to the Boosmansbos (the madman’s forest). The path was very overgrown but it was also very steep and we abandoned the attempt to reach it after a bit. Returning to the hut we watched the trail runners come trhough on their race, had an early lunch and then took a walk down the path for the hike back with the intention of climbing to the top of Grootkop at some 1500 meters. This was easier than it looked and we had a fantastic view from the top all the way to the sea. We descended carefully and returned to the hut for supper and a sleep.
We were up early the next morning with rain possible and left the huts at 05h50, having a cold breakfast along the way and then hiking hard to stay ahead of the weather. Again the vista’s are fantastic and the descent and climb out of the river towards the end are amazing. The path in is looking a bit dangerous and it would not be surprising if some parts collapse at some stage in the near future.
The weather held off and we completed the hike at 12h00 and headed home. This is one to do again although rain will always be an issue here. The longer 45 km trail beckons….