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What was your hike like?
"Unpack your backpack here"

Golden Gate
Golden Gate Day Trails
Submitted by SPOBEAR, February 1998

Yes we certainly found the Gate to be gold all right. Even at night. Quite simple you know. Just after sunset they switch on a million candlepower. Look through your window at night and see this massive buttress which has almost the height of a giant American Redwood soaring up towards the sky striving to break its earthly ties.

Its beautiful. Would'nt like to climb that one. There actually are crazy folks who do you know. But these youngsters of today will try anything if only once. Daytime comes, no, you did not dream about a rock. Its still there. Waiting? Well let it wait. But surely this is not all there is to see at this lovely place with its soft mountain range clad in bluey green hues which delight the soul merely by glancing at them. Oh to be young again, but lets walk the contours of this magnificent range it looks so inviting, and it feels as though everything is so soft and cosy beneath your feet. So friendly. On and on we go enjoying our stroll and the warm sunlight. But whats that? A notice which reads Holkrans. (Hollow Crags) That doesn't sound very friendly does it? And my word, this path seems to be rather unfriendly too. Those crags ahead look rather threatening too don't they? Well lets just push on shall we. Turning back Mom? That's not like you, this is easy. Well see you later then (I hope).

Just forge ahead, getting rather steep now though, perhaps Mom was right. Starting to sweat now, but look, water dripping from the crag above. Lets stand beneath and stick out our tongues for a wee drop. Tastes lovely. Oh for a wee drappie of that Highland stuff. On we go around this steep stony corner....but look at that, a ladder as tall as the Buttress itself! Home made job out of black wattle I quess. Leon looks quizzically at me then at the ladder, also very quizzically. I give him the thumbs up.

I go first with the Bear close on my heels. The long, long ladder Not bad, you sort of pull yourself along on the chains thoughtfully provided overhead. About a hundred steps or more then you're over the edge. Pieceof cake actually. We start the down trip, a twist and a turn, sometimes upward, sometimes down. Magnificent scenery down below you, you feel good to be on here. On and on we trudge along the trail, passing more and more Holkranse all the while and loving every moment.

More downwards now and at long last our chalet comes in view. But hold it we're still not quite there, a few more turns and a few more short ladders, and you might say we are now back on Terra Cotta.. Thanks goodness. Darn I'm tired. What else have these two girls and Leon in mind? Lets call it a day guys. But I had a hunch they won't .

Well, they won't get me out again, let them trudge just where they want. And they did. And how they did. Rhebuck Trail. Took spans of gear with them, they needed it alright, about 40 kilometers of hard trailing ahead. But my poor child, should have seen what she had strapped to her back. I could hardly take that you know. I must admit I had a measure of displeasure towards poor old Leon that morning. Sorry Leon.

A wave for Dad!So I'm sitting on the verandah, my binocs trained on the Rock which is directly on their route, and there they are! And she's waving at me! (See Photo) I keep them in view until they disappear below Spitskop So I think I shall pop back to bed and just enjoy the rest. No luck. The Bear attacks me. Come on Dad lets go to the Ravine and Echo Gorge. No thanks Beertjie lets just relax today. Sorry Dad come on. O well, Here we go again, cross the wooden bridge over the Little Caledon River which I expected to be a cauldron of boiling white water due to release of megatons of water rushing down from the newly built Khatse Dam in the Lesotho Highlands, but no such luck.

We press on always up eternally up. Rocky stuff again. But we made it all the way! Yes, plenty echoes in the Gorge alright and the huge Ravine is spectacular. Beertjie as usual my staff of course, quite tough but worth every step, Beertjie helping all the way. Try it sometime. But get yourself a staff.

Oh yes that rock, that towering Buttress, we went up that too. In a year and a few months time we will do it again to celebrate Ma's and my 75th birthday. (With Beertjie, my staff to lean on of course).

Cheers. SPOBEAR.

O yes, I better tell you how this story came about. I have a daughter whose name is Caroline, she had changed one symbol to make a sweeter sounding name to which I agree. We just call her SPOkie. (The significance of the three capitals will soon be apparent.) Then we have another daughter a littler one but in stature only, actually a brilliant advocate in the big country. Her name is Winnie (not Madikizela) but we just call her Beertjie. The English would be something like 'lill BEAR. Is the significance of the caps quite clear now? Combined they read SPOBEAR. This is called my "handle" as required by the Internet people, so you may just SPOBEAR me as well.

You see if I did not have this "handle" then this story would never have been told. I never got the handle only but all the modern gear needed to get on the Internet! So, one night whilst flying along in space, cyber space of course, I found a lovely little hamlet called Clarens. Go see for yourself, but I doubt you'll come back once you've found your peace there. Next stop Golden Gate, and that's how this story came to be written. Be careful where you might land when in space.


In Memory of SPOBEAR
Bookings and enquiries: Golden Gate Highlands National Park
Tel: + 27 (0)58 256-1470
Fax: + 27 (0)58 256-1471
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Date of entry: 1 July 1996
Updated: 2 January 2004