The MCSA Stellenbosch’s first official post-lockdown outing was a weekend hike to Zebra Peak (1458m ASL; Sebrakop on national geo-spatial maps) on Piketberg. It is located on private land on the plateau rim, north-east of most of the cultivated lands. With the farmer’s permission we were able to shorten the hike by about 5km (10 km there and back) by taking the vehicles on a 4×4 trail. From the trailhead it was another 5km on foot, but with no discernable path, to the high valley in which we set up camp.
In pleasant, windless weather we climbed Zebra Peak that afternoon. It’s the highest peak in the area and commands views to the Cederberg, south over the Piketberg plateau and west to Redelinghuys and Verlorenvlei. A communications mast towers above the trig beacon and I assume that it must have been airlifted in as there is no access road.
A stream burbles through the campsite, which is relatively flat and grassy. A beautiful Breede River yellowwood, protected by sandstone ridges, marks the entrance to the valley. It is a very pleasant and quiet place to spend time, and I did so the next day while the more intrepid members of the large group went to conquer Die Toring (The Tower).
Although Paul intended that we bag the peak and Die Toring on the Saturday, I think time had distorted memory of the time it would take. So the group elected to tackle Die Toring on Sunday morning. Paul reckoned they would be back by about midday. I had decided that I would chicken out and stay around the camp, because the name of the rock – Die Toring – and the apparent fact that ropes would be needed to climb “the crux” made me nervous. I don’t trust my back and my balance on exposed faces anymore. On arrival at the feature, when they saw the drops, ridges and chimneys, other members of the group also decided that discretion was the better part of valour. The rest climbed it and can glory in the achievement, because it is an impressive piece of rock.
In the event, they only arrived back at the camp at about 4 p.m. By that time I had begun to wonder if some disaster had befallen them – but I had no choice but to wait. Eventually we arrived back at the vehicles at about 7 p.m. and tackled the long drive back to Stellenbosch. It didn’t help that all the Piketberg restaurants were already closed …