- 3 litres of water is minimum. The day we went was quite hot and needed lot more. However there were couple of places to refill while coming back so that saved me. But to reach these refill spots you have to hike at least 4-5 hours. So better be on safe side.
- Pack a light food for lunch.
- 1 or 2 apples for breaks.
- Sun screen.
- Salt + lemon (Just in case). Hiking causes excessive sweating and body tends to loose lot of salt.
- A towel. There was a nice pool of water where we had a lunch, so if you feel tired you can get a bath over there.
The BeginningI was up by 6.00AM was all excited for the day. The plan is to Ruimin Zhang will pick me up by my place and we leave Melrose around 6.45AM to our first halt.
Our first halt was at Gateview House, Constantia Park. And we are supposed to assemble and register for the hike by 7.45AM. We reached there around 7.30 AM and saw lot of people registering for the hike. The registration was 40Rands and we have to sign up for the hike with an organiser.I was surprised as people were punctual and by 7.45AM the organiser closed off the registration and asked everyone to get ready for the drive to Castle Gorge.
Lots of people left their cars in the parking and car pooled with others. Felt this was a great idea, since if you are tired after the hike you don't need to drive. And also saves fuel. We dropped our car too and get along with few Chinese friends in their car around 8.00 AM.
Arriving at Castle Gorge
The driving time was around 1 hour from Gateview house. Except the last 4-5 kms in the dirt road the rest of the drive was quite smooth. JHC have their own assembly point near the hiking spot, so everyone got there and prepared ourselves for the hike. Then the organiser introduced leaders for different levels and explained what these levels are. There were three levels of difficulty in the hike with Level 1 being the easiest.
Me, Ruimin along with his friends chose to go on with Level 2. We were led by Christa Medri. Believe me she was 57 years old !!!
The hike started quite energetically, through a mud road leading to the hills. The road extended for 2Kms. And it was slightly a uphill slope. Got to push through ourselves to catch up the leader. We parted the Level 1 folks as they decided to take an early break. An other level folks settled down for a break after 30-45 mins in a nice place with beautiful landscape. Level 3 folks were quick and they started to move on within 2-3 mins. But we decided to have a healthy 10 min break.
Our leader explained us how the route will be and was telling why its important to follow the team. I felt the sense of real hike after this break, since i could see some rocks and narrow paths ahead of us. But it was quite easy than it looked. Still we could see the path and people were introducing themselves as there were quite a lot of talking all the way. After another 40 mins we settled down for an apple break near a dirt pool. Its not exactly a pool but just some dirt water, but during rainy season i guess it will have lot more of water. There was lots of rocks so people settled down for their first snack break.
After a good 20 min the team started to move on. Then after sometime i could see a long barren land that we have to walk through. It would be easily 2 Kms of straight walk. After that, its time for some hike through hills. Narrow paths over the rocks, trees made it interesting. Everyone was exploring some safe route and also kept eye on the leader. I thoroughly enjoyed this 30 min hike as finally we had good shade and the climbing stuff made it interesting.
After the tiring 3 hours of hike we then reached an awesome waterfall and cold pool of water. There we decided to break up for lunch. The water was really cold and everyone took a dip in the cold pool to refresh themselves And after good 30-45 minutes we decided to head back.
Suddenly it became cloudy and the quick dip in water made us super energetic to move on. The return route was more tedious, we decided to take a look into couple of big water falls on the way back. So got to do some hard work of climbing rocks to reach the falls. However the moment we reached the falls, it started to drizzle so we didn't go near the water. And after another 15 min of hard climb we reached a small spring waters. I was so excited to see that since all my bottles were empty by then. After an adventurous water filling activity :) the team decided to move on.
From then on for another 1 hour it was a straight walk to reach the mud road. This walk was damn boring after some exciting stuff. However we got to make it to the parking quickly so this looked like a better option. There was nothing interesting in this stretch apart from relentless chatting of fellow hikers. And there we finally reached the mud road and saw the Level 1 folks resting. Me and my friend was so very excited about nearing the finish line, so we started run but wasn't easy though. Have to run for next 10-15 min to reach the parking. I was half dead when i reached there. But i don't want to drive back all the way this made me so happy. Said good bye to all the fellow hikers and thanked the leader for a safe trip back and left the place.
After another 1.5 hours of drive reached back home and was totally exhausted. Decided to catch up some sleep and to get ready for the next day to Office.