Walking in the rain is ok as long as you start in the dry. Saturday was different. Karen had organised a permit for Orangekloof – limited to 12 people per day and very much in demand at this time of the year, with the Red disas in bloom. It was raining as we started – not too heavily but clearly not likely to lift any time soon. But with permits in short supply and looking like a hardy group we put on our waterproofs and set out anyway.
At the start it was not too bad, just a few drips and plenty of mist, with more moisture generated from inside the rain gear than from outside. It certainly was not cold. We had planned to do Hell’s Gate and climb up to the Woodhead Tunnel, but with the wet it was going to be too slippery, so we turned off the jeep track on to the Disa Ravine path. The idea was to get too the Woodhead Tunnel, possibly see the disas there and then on to the top of the ravine and return via the concrete road to Constantia Nek.
As we got closer to the Disa Ravine path, the mist closed in, but the Blue disas decorating the path were superb. The rain got heavier but by now we were pretty wet, so decided to at least reach Woodhead Tunnel for ‘tea’. We were rewarded with a beautiful cluster of disas just above the tunnel and I was mad at myself for forgetting my newly repaired camera. I think Rodney was the only one who had actually brought real tea and we watched with envy as he poured a steaming cup.
There was not shelter and have achieved the initial objective of seeing the Red disas, it was a unanimous decision to return via the same path and head for the dryer lower slopes. By this time we were all fairly well soaked but as we neared the parking area the rain seemed to disappear and we started to dry out. The idea of a warm fire and a cold beer enticed Karen, Keith and myself to the Constantia Nek Restaurant, while the others headed for home. Thanks to Karen for organising the permit – always worth it in spite of the wet.