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Barberton Tie The Dots Trip Report

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Barberton Tie The Dots Trip Report


Post by AlleyG »

We knew it would be cold… and beautiful… but so very cold, but then again, so very beautiful!
We were wrong, it was freezing, but the beauty of the Barberton mountains was certainly worth the blue lips and so was the amazing trail that we drove, criss-crossing pristine wilderness under the skilful and entertaining guidance of Roelf Le Roux, a Barberton local and lover of these mountains.
For all of the planning, group messages and telephone calls, Friday 28 May 2021 seemed to arrive right out of nowhere. As the campfire stories would later prove, I wasn’t the only one caught off guard and my 03:30 alarm provided me with only just enough time to pack my Landy and hit the road, literally only just slipping in-front peak hour traffic which is slowly returning after the COVID lull.
With plans to meet at Diggers by latest 16H00, we decided to take a leisurely drive to Barberton. With an entire day available to us, there was very little stress, and the trip down was immensely enjoyable littered with experiences in places we had long hoped to visit.
With a fairly fresh membership number with the club, we believed that Manny’s threat of leaving you behind if you arrived at 16:01 would be a reality and we ensured that we rolled in at 15H45. As it turns out, the threat was idle, although we suspect that 16H30 might have been a different story. [If I had my way we would have left at 16:00 SHARP ~ M].
After undergoing another COVID protocol, airing down a little and throwing back a chilled drink, it was time to head up into the mines grounds, climbing many a meter up the side of the mountain, into unspoiled territory in which a Wild Campsite had been prepared for our party.
It was here, after a quick camp setup in the fading light that we got to meet new friends around the campfires. Manny took it upon himself to ensure that all verbalization that could be made, was made. He wasn’t the only one in the spirit of things, and pretty soon there was chatter, comments, giggles and chirps from all around. With most having traveled some distance for the day, bedtime was not far off in the distance.
As the early sun rays begun pealing away at the darkness of dawn, you could begin to hear rustles, coughs and the familiar clatter of coffee being made in a campsite. We didn’t budge, but it was obvious that there were those in the party that were early risers. Given the early morning chill I was surprised to hear the commotion of fellow club members as they begun their very early day. We, like some, decided to get up at a sensible time, making our presence known well after the darkness had faded and the face of the earth had begun warming.
It wasn’t long after exiting the tent that the familiar scent of diesel and petrol begun filling the air as club members begun lining up to tackle the adventure that lay before us. We had already been briefed that we would be returning the way we had come the night before, thereafter ascending up the mountain on trails that were not maintained.
We got off to a relatively strong start, with Manny happily leading the convoy down the wrong road [Correction: Manny went down the right road - Bugger led you down the wrong road] which resulted in many a 50-point turn on a narrow gravel road, but after fighting with the power steering and returning to the lead vehicle we were off, cutting across the mountain slopes on awesome unmaintained tracks. It was in these very early stages that Roelf regaled us with stories of Ox Wagons etching scars with their wheels into the rocks as they pulled supplies from Natal, through Barberton and onward to the mining towns that had established themselves in the area in the late 1800’s. It certainly was easier in 2021 with aircon, diesel and diff lock.
As we ventured further across the mountains we visited the remains of the cemetery, where the remains of some of those very early settlers had been laid to rest, including some who’s untimely demise was the result of a shipwreck [The Drummond Castle sank off the coast of Africa 0n June 16 1896 ~ M] . I presume that the grave was a memorial rather than the actual burial site, but who really knows.
With the sun a quarter of the way through the sky, it was time to discard jackets and gloves and head into the World Heritage Site which contained some awesome obstacles which added excitement to the mix. Before this trip I had only seen a VW Syncro advertised on TV and it was a pleasure to watch this magnificent machine tackle the obstacles. A completely different driving style, but entertaining none the less.
Shortly before lunch we descended at a rapid pace into a valley to enjoy a picnic in the shade next to a stream. There was banter about how many meters we descended in the space of 15 minutes and it was substantial, but I don’t recall the value [Over 400meters]. I do remember it was steep, filled with regular tight turns and a punctured side wall. Roelf had mentioned at the start that the mountains always claim a tyre, but until we got the call over the radio, I think that all in the convoy believed we would be the first group of magnificent individuals to descend and ascend without consequence. Alas, the magnificence was not to be.
After lunch we meandered through the valley that has been carved out of the mountainside over millennia. With the presence of water and a tropical climate, the bush made its beauty felt. We drove through dense wilderness, with trees forming a thick canopy above, with light stabbing through the greenery illuminating the path ahead. Unspoiled and truly magnificent!
It was fairly late in the afternoon as we pointed our bonnets towards the sky and climbed out of the valley to the mountain top we had been on a few hours before. After crossing back onto our earlier path, we again headed back the way we had come, but not before creating a semi-circle which resembled a straight line exactly… for a club photo.
We arrived at camp just in time for prize-giving, with many a shot-glass consumed for silliness experienced over the past few days. It was a little sad to realize that the fun of the day was slowly slipping away and soon darkness would envelop the campsite, but not before one last quick adventure for some of us as we ventured off to the ruins of Eureka City for a sun-downer.
With the sun-downers downed and the return of the cool evening air, it was time again to gather around a blazing campfire, braai meat and eat! There was no shortage of laughter as club members entertained one another with stories of adventures, fun times and natural wonder.
Sunday morning was cold… too cold to worry about getting up early and again we waited for the sun to work its magic before we unzipped sleeping bags and the tent to embark on the day’s requirement. It was noticeable that Sunday was the day of rest, with far fewer early morning noises when compared with the day before.
Sadly, it was time for all to fold away camp, say cheerio to new and old friends and head back down the mountain side to the mine gate we had eagerly entered into just over 30 hours before, and whilst it was time for those there to return to their origins, we returned with fresh memories of an amazingly beautiful area in which another brilliant 4x4 adventure was had.

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Post by AndreasR »

Very nice trip report. Thanks.

Just for accuracy sake I must point out that Manny was a lot louder than you suggest!

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Mad Manny
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Post by Mad Manny »

Great Report Clint & Alison!

It wasn't really that cold...
"No one ever got stuck - in mid air!"

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Post by Bugger »

Mad Manny wrote:
Fri Jun 04, 2021 4:43 pm
Great Report Clint & Alison!

It wasn't really that cold...
Clint possibly did not find it Image
Syncro Cox Camper
SJ 410 TarzanTiny
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And a few VW Air cooled Toys

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Post by HenriSteyn »

Thanks very much or doing the report Clint.

Nicely written and bringing all sorts of memories back.

We had a great time for sure.


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Martin de Jager
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Post by Martin de Jager »

Clint , and Allison, having not being able to drive this trip , and reading your rendition of the trip and how it transpired, one really miss these events. thanks for a great report.M
Commit, no fear, no regrets, live life to the fullest.

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Post by Flipside »

Great report, thank you.
We really enjoyed the trip, despite the cut sidewall.

Member: 4x4 Action Group #26 & Suzuki4x4GP
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