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Orange Kloof Combo

Leader: Stephen Tooke 16 October 2016 Orange Kloof Combo

One or two participants knew sections of our route of 13 October better than the leader did. All to his advantage, even if it did occasion a little ribbing. Of course the trundle along the ring road to Disa Gorge passed without comment, as did the beginning of our way up next to the idyllically forested stream. But then a first nudge put us across the stream for a short spell where the going was easier. The continuation upstream saw the cliffs closing in precipitously until we inescapably had to edge our way past a drop into water – all who do the walk know this section. No-one fell in, and a last scramble put us at the foot of a spectacular waterfall: Hell’s Gates. Now came a stiffish clamber out. The head of the waterfall is an extremely attractive spot; this had to be shown to the meet leader. He did, however, have sense enough to accept this second nudge and declare tea.

More wooded stream-side walking soon brought us to Lover’s Leap. This looks impassably sheer on all sides and, indeed, our planned route – which we were to follow – involved a retreat of about 100 metres to an exit point on a shelf of rock. But the meet leader had brought with him a suggestion, confirmed by a member of the party, that there is perhaps an alternative exit, and inspection showed that this may well be so. A future explore! We got out by the recce’d route, however, made our way up the slope past a residual farmstead apple tree, and plonked ourselves on the highway path up the gorge. A telephone pole count coupled with another helpful nudge started us up Dingaan’s Ridge, part two of our combo route. Here we almost immediately lost the path, wherupon a few pointed remarks amused the company and discomfited the path-loser. Fortunately he could shut them up nicely by almost immediately putting them on an (on-route) wicked little pitch that upped the adrenaline and downed the banter. Numerous scrambles and crawls followed; we emerged a little short of the top through a mind-your-head chimney. One last dassie crawl and we were on top proper.

Part three of our combo would take us to the Vivarium, so named because this cave is home to a Table Mountain endemic, the cavernicolous shrimp-like Spelaeogriphus lepidops. On the tramp across to it the meet leader had no reason to feel embarrassed at not being on the path – there isn’t one. The entrance to the cave was also lunch, an abbreviated one for spelunkers, an extended one for the rest (caving was optional). More than half of us chose to attempt the tightish wriggle in. The Vivarium opens out in the cliffs above Orange Kloof, and successful wrigglers had both the shrimp and the vista out to Hout Bay as reward.

Now we could turn towards home, carefully avoiding the concrete road and choosing instead more forest in an infrequently visited valley. Here we drew on the knowledge of another member of our party and undertook an unplanned part four to the combo, a side-excursion to Bats’ Cave. A drop-through-the-postbox return path variation offered a last bit of excitement to the few of us who still wanted it.

This was an extremely capable group; our program had been ambitious, but we did it all, and more.

Steven Isacowitz, route pointers and suggestions
Rob Satchel, Bats’ Cave
Persevering group of beer drinkers, who stood the meet leader one

Stephen Tooke


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