In theory the rain season occurs in the Drakensberg in the mid summer. Lightning grazes the top of the escarpment and sheets of water cascade from the skies to drench the lush green vegetation. Rivers literally choke with rushing water that tosses boulders along like ping-pong balls. So April is supposed to be relatively dry. Supposed to be. Every now and again the mountain doesn’t quite listen to the meteorological schedule. About a decade ago some friends led by the late Reverend Keep were taking a school group into the lower Drakensberg and were literally pinned to a campsite as torrential rain turned the Indedema and Mhlwazini rivers into mad infernos of white water.
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This April is no different it seems. It rained and rained and rained during the April Photography workshop. Cameras got drenched. Hikers and photographers alike looked slightly like drowned rats at the end of each day. I’m writing this sitting in a dense cloud at Witsieshoek with still no end in sight seemingly. But what a show!
Take away the discomfort that one is wont to feel when walking in the rain and take a look at the incredible of sight of a river growing in strength in front of your eyes. One of the hikers who joined the group this month took a before and after shot of one of the tributaries of the Tugela that runs from Devil’s Hoek. In the space of two hours the already strongly flowing stream went from full to full-out, and it was still growing. Climbing up above a low layer of cloud towards Sentinel yesterday I was privileged to see waterfalls that I didn’t know existed. Every corner, every fold in the mountain is a release for a gushing flow of water down the side of the escarpment. Looking toward Namahadi from the neck below Sentinel there seems to be a never-ending display of ribbons of white cascading down the mountainside.
Despite the weather we still managed to make it to the top of the Amphitheatre. Here we were treated to the incredible sight of a heavily flowing Tugela Falls pouring over the edge. To me this was a magnificent sight and a long way from the bone dry edge last September. What a show!
To a stalwart group in the mountains, it was a pleasure spending the weekend with you as we braved the rain and cold up and down the mountain and along the valley floor.