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Hodgson's Peaks (17-18 Nov '18)

"Up there. You see those two peaks that resemble a giant cup (too tempting not to). We are going up there." As is usual, that statement is met by an apprehensive glance and nod from the group. It generally seems to boggle everyone's mind, mine included- how is the human body capable of covering so much distance and altitude in such a short time?

It is Friday night and the wind is billowing into our tent, which is pitched at the Cobham campsite. 1700m below tomorrow's campsite. Tomorrow's sleep is a controversial issue in my mind. But enough of that thought: there are mountains to climb.

5am: The coffee water is boiling.

5:40am: Sleeping bags are being squished into packs.

6am: One foot in front of the other we slowly head to the hiking entrance.

Our route followed clear paths along the Pholela River, passing boundary rock, monster rock and the shelter. Just after Spectacle cave we took the right fork in the path and headed into the adjacent valley which leads up to Masubasuba Pass. Here the path is almost non-existent with some young bundu bashes (hello scratches). After following the river bed for 5km we started our ascent up the left banks of the gully. A beautifully steep climb, leading into a zig-zag.

As you can see in the image above, the path leads to a rock-band. Below the band it veers right and we followed it into the gully for the final 250m virtually vertical scramble. Once on top we scouted for a sheltered camp site and set up our tents before embarking on several games of monopoly and thunee.

Our sundowners spot wasn't bad either.

After a surprisingly very good night's rest, we woke up above the clouds and ventured to the same spot as the previous evening....except this time, the rising sun had us awe-struck.

We then set off to summit Hodgson's North Peak (3244m asl) and then Hodgson's South Peak (3257m asl). The South summit required a little scramble and proved exceptionally fun! The view looking down from Hodgson's South can be seen below.

It was 8:30am, we had walked 7km, summitted two peaks and been rewarded with incredible views. I call that a successful morning.

We then headed back down the Masubasuba Pass and exited along the north heading contour towards the GX valley. The path for the remainder of our trek was very well defined. We quickly descended into mist that was so thick that we couldn't see more than 10m in front of us. Although this stunted our ability to absorb the beauty of the GX valley, it felt as though we were walking through an airy extraterrestrial land: which was just MAGICAL.

We left the GX valley to follow Emerald Stream and pass below Grandma and Grandpa. After a good 17.5km we reached the Pholela River again and followed it back to the Cobham campsite, food and warm showers.

Another weekend. Another adventure. Just how we like it.

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This was a year-defining hike, no doubt about it. We had been 'frothing' about it for weeks before the big weekend finally arrived. The banter and stories on the drive up only helped to build the excitement even more, and boy did we need that motivation. Saturday morning started out beautiful and clear and we set a cracking pace to start, Michaela spurring us on all the way.

Things started to get heavier as the morning wore on, the gradient ever increasing. When we reached the bottom of the pass I think we all had a moment of indecision - it was steeper than it looked from Cobham campsite. The climb into the bowl of the Giant's Cup was intense!…

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