Drakenberg Mountains, Monk Cowl

Impressive clouds cover over the high plateau

Impressive clouds cover over the high plateau

It was time to go in to the Drakenberg mountains again. The weather forecast looked promising, but as I arrived late afternoon a lightning and thunderstorm was passing through. Quite impressive and very common as warm uprising coastal winds collide with cold air off the highlands.
This time, I went to Monk Cowl campground. A very basic, but spacious campground, where a number of hiking trails are leading from.
Clear blue skies greeted me next morning and I was eager to go. Got to make the most of perfect conditions.

A shady pocket

A shady pocket

The track lead fairly steep uphill, first stop was by a little flowing waterfall with a calm pond, surrounded by mossy boulders and trees. Further up was the ‘Sphinx’, only with nose.

What a day, what a view

What a day, what a view, Drakenberg Mountains

The escarpment looked impressive in all directions. First thing I noticed getting to the alpine plateau  is how calm and quite it was. This is a very exposed area and I couldn’t believe my luck.
Coming to ‘Blind mans corner’, I had the option to go north or south. Most other hikers went north, so I went south. My aim was ‘Wonder Valley Cave’, and I was doing good in time.

Sunny reflections

Sunny reflections

A chilled break at a mountain stream, with fresh cold water. Wandering over the high grass plains gave me some impressive views over the mountain range. Clouds were rolling in and covering the mountain tops. A few kilometres before my destination, I realised that I won’t be able to make it.

Clouds rolling in

Clouds rolling in over the Drakenberg Mountains

My right knee overheated and gotten to painful to walk on. Very painful. I relaxed in the high grass, fully exposed to the sun as there was no shelter anywhere. My return trip was very slow going, particularly going down hill, which most of the track was. I made it back to camp just before dark, where an almost full moon had already risen. Still very calm and clear skies.

Signs off Monkeys

Signs off Monkeys, Sterkspruit Falls

Another sunny day greeted me, it was unusually hot and humid. A recipe for heavy storms. I decided to take it easy today and won’t venture too far. First stop was ‘Sterkspuit Falls’ were a herd of baboons showed me the way.

Sterkspruit Falls

Sterkspruit Falls

Following ‘Sterkspuit River’ up, I came to various rock pools and cascades, great spots to chill in the shade.

Cascades along the Sterkspruit River

Cascades along the Sterkspruit River

Nandis falls weren’t flowing much but gave me a few different photo opportunities and a nice spot for lunch.

Green vegetation

Green vegetation

That’s what other hikers thought too, it was kinda busy. Hardly any fellow hikers greet each other, a strange custom I thought. I went through a cool forest on my way back, some lush green mosses covering slow running creeks, a cool change from the hot plains.

Mossy rocks alongside a creek

Mossy rocks alongside a creek

A good opportunity to look a bit closer.

Lizard close up

Lizard close up

Distant thunder threatened all afternoon. Giving me enough time to cook dinner and watch the full moon rise.

Full moon camping

Full moon camping at Drakenberg Mountains

The thunder and lighting was impressive, which I watched with my sunnies on. That’s how light it was. Very impressive. It rained and stormed all night and rained all next day. A massive low front just covered the land in rain, all the way back to the farm in the Free State.

 

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