Arangieskop Hiking Trail is a very fine trail, well laid out by somebody who was determined to show the diversity of views and flora to be found on a single mountainside. Make sure that your knees are in good nick and that your pack is light, because the climb is unrelenting (8.34 km through 1313m) on day 1 to the hut, and jarringly steep on the way down (10km with a total elevation loss of 1634m) via the summit (1695m ASL) on day 2. We – Kevin, Yolanda and I – reached the hut by 1:30 pm which left us plenty of time to settle in and then climb the remaining 212m to the summit (2.4 km round trip) without packs. Of course we would have to do it all over again the next day – with full packs but with most of the food eaten.
Day 2 was an extraordinarily beautiful day, one of those windless, winter days in the Little Karoo when you can see forever over the endless folds into the heart of the Karoo. It more than made up for the previous attempt some weeks earlier – take one – during the worst storm of the winter when we had to abort the hike halfway up because some members of the party were ill-equipped for the snow and rain that would follow. In hindsight, I was relieved that we did abort, because the steep descent would have been particularly treacherous in the wet and the cold, not to mention plain unpleasant.
The area has a family connection: Marion, my partner, grew up barefoot and carefree in the Koo Valley, the high valley that opens up below you on the far side of the watershed. Her step-dad owned one of the farms on the eastern slope of this section of the Langeberg, while Niel Burger, his cousin and neighbour, built the fine stone hut below Arangieskop on the Vensterbank and conceived and runs the ever-popular tractor trip to it from the Koo side. Arangieskop hut is spectacularly sited and commands views north over the Koo to the Matroosberg, east and south over the Keisie Valley all along the jagged Langeberg chain to Montagu, and east over the Ouberg to Anysberg and Warmwaterberg, landscapes that I had covered by bicycle some months earlier.
A GPS track and photos follow.
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