Day 1: Iron Crown

Colin pausing to admire the scenery.

Colin pausing to admire the scenery.

14 March 2015

Start 13:15 End 17:00 Peak: Iron Crown (Limpopo) 2126m

We decide to use the last of the daylight hours and climb Iron Crown on the day of arrival in Haenertsburg so we can get cracking on the cycle first thing the next day. We see our first peak looming over the drop-off point; little did I know that the peak one can see from the road is not actually the highest point. Yay.

We meet bushbuck in first few minutes of hike which comes crashing out the bushes and over the road. I think it may have been a woodland sprite of the past coming to wish us goodbye and good luck.

I wasn’t planning on doing the hike today so completely unprepared. I had fairly raucous 31st/farewell party the night before. Hangover and hiking, not a recommended combination. Had “My Alcoholic Friends” by The Dresden Dolls stuck in my head the whole way up. “I’ll be on my best behaviour, taking shots for Mother Nature.” and I was indeed. (If you are reading this, you know who you are…)

The first part of hike was fairly easy in terms of ground as up plantation service roads. The going is  good even surface although the gradient is moderate in places. I amuse Colin by doing the Ministry of Silly Walks past a spider that he couldn’t see. (Not scared, I didn’t want to break the poor chap’s web. It reminded me of a previous cycle where we had stopped for snacks on the roadside and Colin had amused itself by throwing small bits of broken twig into an orb’s spider’s nest. It carried them to the centre of its web and made an upside down crucifix. We left soon after that). We pass what appeared to be a savage guard dog at a property. It turned out to not be savage, it merely raised an eyebrow and I swear it was wheezing a bit.

We climb the stairs past fire station lookout point. Colin points out the “longdrop” with a view, right at the cliff’s edge overlooking Ebenezer Dam. A very long drop indeed.

Halfway up Iron Crown, view over Ebenezer Dam.

Halfway up Iron Crown, view over Ebenezer Dam.

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Very scenic on top of first peak, orange and purple flowers, assorted butterflies – but there’s still some more scrambling to be done. I don’t know how Colin got a Buffalo up here. It wouldn’t even occur to me to attempt it.

Make it to summit, high five, take some photos then head back down before it gets too late. We proudly pose with the banner of our sponsor ER Consulting Inc. This is not the first peak I have lugged it up. Previously it has been up Sentinel Peak and Table Mountain. On both those hikes I had the job of carrying it up the hill too.

At the summit of Iron Crown, our first peak!

At the summit of Iron Crown, our first peak!

We don’t spend too much time on top as we still have to set up camp and cook dinner. We lose the path in a few places, easy enough as it’s overgrown and crosses several rocky sections. One can’t look up often to look for the path as doing so means potentially tripping on a rock and testing the effects of gravity.

After stairs, “easy” walk down to the bottom, except now the hard-packed dirt road which was pleasant on the way up is now deeply unpleasant, transferring every jolt to the joints and losing traction if you don’t place your feet quite right. We also had to bypass savage dog (a different one to the first, most notably was this one was actually savage. Next most noteworthy was that the first one was black and this one taupe). Colin threatens it with his bag and the owners call it back in. Not sure if they were protecting us or the dog.

We meet up with Maggie on main road to catch lift back to campsite. Several bypassers give curious stares at the single woman picking up two haggard hitchhikers dressed in leopard and tiger print shirts. Back to the campsite, throw up the tents, light the braai and plan for the next day’s cycle.