Sunday, August 28, 2011

The short weekend trip to my favorite mountain

It's a bit late, I know, but I did get down to Royal Natal for the weekend in mid June.  I left Joburg quite a bit later than planned, and with all the holiday weekend traffic, only arrived well after dark.  Setting up camp in the dark is not my favorite, but at least it wasn't raining. 

Having arrived late on the Friday evening, there was no time to pre-survey the morning sunrise spot, so it was a case of targeting a previous location. Heading out at 5:30 am in mid winter was pretty chilly (below freezing if I remember well), but an hour's walk gets the circulation and internal heater working! 

In June there is a lot less water in the Tugela river, so it is easier to stand on rocks in the middle of the river to get effect of the flowing water. But it also means the stones are a lot more exposed, and it is much more difficult to find a spot where the river actually points towards the Amphitheatre.  Anyhow I found a suitable spot and was blessed with a beautiful 'red mountain sunrise'  The sun in winter is much further north than in March / April when I have previously been there, and the sunrise lights up the complete width of the Amphitheatre, rather than just the buttresses.  Compare this photo with the others in the gallery to see the difference.

Drakensberg - Amphitheatre winter sunrise, Tugela River
Royal Natal Amphitheater winter sunrise
After the sunrise was well over, I used some time looking for an alternative sunrise view of the Amphitheatre from the Policeman's Helmet, but it wasn't viable.  By the time I got back to the camp for 'breakfast' I had already walked nearly 15 km up and down hills, and was pretty exhausted!  Unfortunately I used up too much time and energy in the morning, so I didn't succeed in reaching my afternoon's planned location of 'The Grotto', which was a bit disappointing, since I was trying to use this trip to look for new locations.

Sunday morning was another early morning, this time looking for a vertical shot of the Amphitheatre.  Obviously it needed a much further back location, which I found even more difficult to find a suitable spot with the river pointing in the correct direction.  With the low water levels the stones take on much more prominence, and being winter the green grass has been replaced with brown, making the photos look very 'warm'. 

Drakensberg - Amphitheatre winter Early Morning, Tugela River
Royal Natal Amphitheatre winter early morning
Later that morning I went for another walk in a new direction, but again being exhausted and needing to pack up and head home, I didn't complete that plan either.  I did find, however, some interesting rock formations, lichen, etc. so decided to stop and explore theses instead.

Drakensberg - Royal Natal Lichen on Rock
Royal Natal Lichen on rock
So overall a bit of a mixed bag of a trip - I was happy to get the prime pics I had planned to get, but didn't get to see some of the new places I have been wanting to explore for a while.  I guess that just means another visit will be required some day!

There are several more pics in the Amphitheatre gallery

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Trip to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon

Sadly, due to insufficient people signing up for this trip, it had to be cancelled.  Fortunately flights etc. have not yet been paid for, so there is no financial impact.  One day I’ll get there!