This iconic midlands peak is visible from the hills surrounding Mpophomeni – it has long been a dream of some of the boys who enjoy hiking, to climb it. “Intaba ifihlekile” was the comment as we drove out through the Dargle valley – the hill was indeed hidden, shrouded in cloud.
Undeterred, we set off up towards the peak anyway, with a chorus of Cidacas echoing through the plantation, hoping that the cloud would lift for a little while at least so we could see the views. The first indigenous plant we came across on emerging from the plantation was protea. Everyone reminisced about seeing them on the trip to Hlatikulu in 2013.
The mist got thicker the higher we climbed. At least it wasn’t baking hot on the slopes as it could have been – even at 8 in the morning.
Plenty of summer plants were in bloom, so opportunities to stop and discuss them, the animal tracks, and the insects allowed us to catch our breath.
The last part of the 2,2km ascent to the ridge is very steep through large dolerite boulders. “My best moment was reaching the top and the gentle blow of the mist and cold wind. I needed that after the steep, sweaty hike.” said Asanda. The mist swirled, offering occasional glimpses of the valley below.
On reaching the beacon, we sent photos and messages to those who were unable to join us due to family commitments “Sesisenhlosana, we are 1947m above sea level.”
A discussion about the name Inhlosane followed. Hlosa means to ‘develop’ – the shape of the hill from a distance looks like a young girl’s developing breast.
We explored a little and settled down for a picnic amongst the rocks.
A group of hikers emerged through the mist to join us. Rose Dix, one of the group, was delighted to meet the boys saying “Oh I know all about you, I follow the blogs and Facebook and see pictures of all your adventures and everything that is happening in Mpophomeni!”
While we finished off our brunch, the intrepid hikers set off down the other side of Inhlosane for a distant waterfall where they planned to stop for lunch and then walk about 6kms along the road, back to the carpark. “I enjoyed meeting people who were old enough to be my grandparents on top of the mountain.” commented Asanda.
The cloud lifted and the views were wonderful. We could see the Drakensberg and had fun pointing out Howick, uMngeni Vlei, kwaHaza, Lion’s River, Midmar and Albert Falls dam. “Where is Zenzane in Balgowan?” Philani wanted to know, having made new friends who live there, on the MCF excursion to Shawswood recently.
Taking the opportunity to sit quietly listening to the sounds that floated up from the valley,
and imagining we could fly!
When it was time to leave, the boys skipped like mountain goats down the slope. Philani and Sihle were intrigued by the cairn of rocks that marked the path. “Well done to the people who came up with that idea to show the way, it is great.”
Not wanting the adventure to end, halfway down we sat a while in the grassland, enjoying the views and using the binoculars (thanks N3TC) as magnifying glasses to look at the details on the flowers surrounding us.
On the way home we stopped at the Mandela Capture Site, to visit the sculpture that they had only seen on television before and wander through the displays. “Awesome, Perfect, Mnandi” were the comments in the visitors book from Mpophomeni. These words described an entire day of interesting revelations, actually.
Midlands Conservancies Forum believes that giving young people opportunities to be in nature stimulates creativity, curiosity and imagination, interest in local flora and fauna and respect for, and connectedness to, nature. These experiences are essential to produce tomorrow’s creative thinkers and change agents.