A Kloof is a canyon or gorge. There are kloofs everywhere in South Africa. "Kloofing" is the practice of hiking/ creekwalking/swimming/ jumping down a kloof. Suicide Kloof is a very popular place for kloofing. The largest waterfall you must jump is 20m tall. When I say "popular", I mean people who have done it talk about it a lot, not that everybody has done it.
Yesterday the 3rd-year students had the afternoon to finish their maps and cross-sections and reports and hand them in. So Chris and Tim and I decided to leave them to it instead of answering a lot of questions all afternoon! John drove us 150km around the back side of the mountain range. This involved a lot of beautiful wine country which I am dragging you all back through when you come visit! The wine is excellent and very inexpensive compared to California wines.
Anyway, we drove up into Simonskloof and took the Gecko Trail back over to the Nuy Valley where the students have been working. Simonskloof is a very remote little farmstead which has been restored to a B&B with adventure tourism in mind. The trail is awesome with incredible views! First we saw this cute tortoise. I love him. He reminds me of Grammy's old tortoise from Amalfi. I moved him out of the road. We climbed up from Simonskloof Farm into a forest of Proteas (wagon wheel trees) which were starting to bloom.
When we came through the proteas the floor of the canyon seemed to just drop straight down below us! Steep walls with massive reddish sandstones and funny dassies skittering around. It felt like Zion National Park in UT or like Mesa Verde. There seemed to be hundreds of sort of cave sites in the canyon walls. There are Bushman rock paintings in some of them. We dropped straight down the cliff to the bottom of the kloof, where we sipped clear stream water. The creeks are spring-fed and absolutely clean and delicious!
These rocks are just north of the folds and thrust faults and we saw some brittle-ductile deformation features like these big sigmoidal quartz veins!
When the kloof floods, the boulders must really tear down through it. For evidence, see these percussion marks - the quartzite boulders have concoidal fracture and these are impact scars from rocks flying down from above. You might think it's funny that they are all of similar (but not totally uniform) size - My guess is that this is controlled by the curvature of the rock, since the impacts must have all been of different sizes. Interesting question though.
My brother is such a hobbit that when I see clever little hideaways I always think of him. This place was bricked right into the cliff. A big deck was built off of it, looks like at high water, you might even be able to jump in. Of course, at high water you may be vulnerable to becoming a percussion mark (see above). Anyway a dam slightly downstream is backing up a small pool for summer swimming too. A huge water tank is sunk into the deck as a big hottub too. There's a wine cellar with an iron door built into the cliff. And around the deck there are actual beds hung to swing from chains, like hammocks. This place is awesome. It's a 7km hike from the road (at current road conditions anyway). I would like to come back here with friends and food and wine and rent this cabin. Remember you can click the pictures to see more. Also the left side is the covered outdoor cooking area - with a woodfired cook stove. so sweet.
The rest of the walk out was kind of a haul however, as the whole canyon was clogged by the recent storms and accompanying floods. Boulders everywhere and the trees seemed to be ripped up and strewn around. It got worse and worse downstream, when we came to the acacia removal area - where the trees had been cut down but not removed. The 4-wheeler road was obliterated when the river chose a new course. So we won't come back to hire the cabin until the trees are gone, and we'll do it as a creekwalk so we don't have to boulder hop with all our food and wine. Plenty of firewood available.
Finally, here's a link for the video of the baboons freaking out in the kloof as we came down. In typical fashion, I filmed this sideways and can't figure out how to change the orientation, format, or size. Don't try to download this if you don't have high speed. Carter can you help me with this file? thanks.
Sideways baboon movie (AVI, 31MB)
I leave you with this photo.