12/19/2007

Day Hike to Die Hel

Die Hel is Afrikaans for The Hell. It is really quite the opposite, although it is really deep. We woke up to very foggy and wet clouds in the valley and set out for a day hike down river to the southern extent of the hiking trails in the park. After about an hour of winding through the fynbos and protea groves the trail turned abruptly down and turned into sort of a switchbacked staircase. Over the lip of the kloof (that's a canyon or ravine or gorge or something similar) we caught a glimpse of Die Hel. It's one of the deepest pools in the Western Cape Mountains:There's a creek-walk "kloofing" route down into Die Hel from the Klein Kliphuis Rivier bridge that ends with jumping the 5m falls into the pool. There's another one that starts from Die Hel and ends hundreds of meters below at a farm in the valley.
Our friends from the trail were already there, finishing their lunch when we arrived. They were kind enough to take a picture of us. And then they made us tea. I am not even kidding you. Then they jumped up, said, you should really skinny dip here and not wet your undergarments, and took off. So we did! Of course the rain started in earnest while we were in the water so the clothes all got wet on the rock anyway. But it was not cold and it was so lovely, and the hike out is enough to warm anybody up.
They tipped us off to a side trail on the way up the wall that led out to a rock overhang. We didn't notice it on the way down but went to check it out. The overhang offered shelter from the rain and a clear view up and down the kloof. It was obviously the best place to hang out for any inclement weather.
On the roof of the overhang was Khoi/San rock art. The Khoi and San people were the indigenous inhabitants of the Cape - indeed, most of South Africa - at the time of European colonisation. The Bushmen of the Kalahari are their remaining descendants. The paintings in Groot Winterhoek are somewhere between 300 and 6000 years old.
... when there were elephants here:

The paintings are done with mineral pigments, some colours weather better than others.

We spent the rest of the afternoon/evening posted up in the tent. We made tea under the fly and made a deck of cards out of ripped up pieces of notebook paper. Sila won.

3 comments:

Anastacia Haddon said...

Beautiful pictures. Done the trail back in 2002 and we had to cross the river at the jeep track - the river water as you would know comes from the snow filled mountains and was NOT a pretty sight...I SO much wish to do this trail again ...you forgot to mention that the trek down into Die Hel from the top is VERY steep (I would say at a 45 degree angle)

I have uploaded my picture here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/anastaciah/2926480695

Anastacia Haddon said...

The group was from cape tech and in fact it was my last hike before starting my job at UCT the very next day after returning from the trail...I remember starting my first day at UCT with cuts and bruises all over my legs. There was a group of postgraduate UCT students researching the bats in those caves there too! what a coincidence. If you do however go on any more "big hikes" please let me know

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