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Yesterday afternoon, as I was watching the sun set behind the Matzikamma Mountain, I idly thought about where I should do my usual Sunday training hike. I am not very good at handling repetition—I want variety in my training, otherwise I start to lose interest.

Then it occurred to me: why not walk to the top of the waterfall and have a look around? After all, that is where I intend to start my forthcoming hike. Well, it turned out to be more than a mere walk …

Excited about my plans for the day, I was up early, but by the time I had fed the dogs and myself and packed some food, it was already 07:00. Getting away is never easy with Thulu, my male Bull-Terrier. Somehow he just knows when I’m about to drive off somewhere. When I went outside with my backpack he was already waiting expectantly at the stairs, hoping to be invited to get into the pick-up. I tried to bribe him with a biscuit, which he promptly spat out! Then he jumped onto the couch on the porch and looked at me with a hurt expression on his face. I comforted him and explained that he really couldn’t come with me today, then I left.

The Waterfall Resort is about a 25-minute drive from where I live, and when I arrived there I was in time to say hello to the land owner who was about to go out. I know the man well, but I thought the decent thing would be to ask his permission to hike on his land. Besides, I had been unable to contact my wife to tell her about my plans for the day, and I felt more at ease knowing that someone knew where I would be, in case something went wrong.

I set off on the path leading to the waterfall. At this time of the year the waterfall is nothing spectacular—a wispy shower spills from the top, enough to fill the pools at the bottom. But during the rain season this waterfall is transformed into a spectacular, 200-metre fall.

Looking back towards the resort shortly after departing.

The waterfall as it appears in summer. The water is not visible in this picture.

I continued along the path which soon started to rise sharply, and before I knew it I was on the same level as the tier, or step, about halfway up. From the top, water falls about 100 metres onto this flat rock layer before falling another 100 metres to the bottom.

The lower part of the waterfall

The path was now very steep and difficult to negotiate as a result of loose stones and sand. I realised that climbing such a steep gradient and on such a surface while alone and carrying a pack, calls for being extra careful. It is not the same as climbing without a pack in a group of people where there is always someone to lend a hand, if necessary.

Almost at the top, looking down.

At last, I reached the top after an ascent of 224 metres as indicated on my Garmin 60CS, with a few scratches and bruises that I didn’t have when I got out of bed this morning. I was still some way from the stream that feeds the waterfall, and I could hear water rushing. But I had somehow missed the path, and with some bush-bashing and a few extra scratches later, I managed to reach the stream. Through the ages water has cut a deep gorge through the sandstone. Looking down, I saw pools and potholes of crystal clear water. Being sweaty and hot, that water beckoned like a siren call!

Crystal clear water flowing down the gorge to the fall.

I continued upstream until I came to a beautiful pool that was easily accessible. Skinny dip? What a question!

A welcome sight for a hot and sweaty hiker.

I stripped and stepped into the pool—the water was surprisingly cold! Gasping, I splashed some water over myself and quickly got out again. After drying off in the warm sun I made some tea and had my lunch of multi-grain biscuits and, by then, fat-oozing cheese. But hiking causes a kind of hunger that is not too fussy …

Tea brewed on my old Mountain Safety Research stove.

After lunch I packed up and started on my way back. Then I saw a path leading in the direction of the top of the fall, so I decided to follow it. I came to a ledge and there, below me, was the top of the fall where the water flowed over the edge.

A series of small potholes where the stream plunges over the edge of the waterfall.

Coming down was worse than going up, but I made it in one piece. I arrived back home, tired but happy, greeted by two excited Bull-Terriers. It was a day well spent. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be back there again soon, on the day when I start my hike.

Only 38 days to go …