Slanghoek Pile – the name is evocative. Of what I am not quite sure (slanghoek is Dutch/Afrikaans and translates roughly to “snake corner”). An MCSA outing, the hike there and back is 16.4 km in length and climbs and descends 1272 m. The walk up comprised two sections: the first was long with a gentle slope along the lower Bobbejaansrivier (“baboon river”) and the second a relentless climb to the top of the Pile.
The lower Bobbejaansrivier with its deep, cool potholes is etched in my memory. In 1975 a group of school kids – the school’s “Exploration Society” – spent a wonderful, sun-splashed day at the pools. I never forgot that place, but it took me a good 25 years to figure out where it was and return there. I have been back many times since.
Photos and a Google Earth 3D map follow… This time, however, we skirted those potholes and headed up to the waterfalls, then above the falls to the plateau and the upper river, before tackling the long climb over recovering veld and its loose stones to the Pile, where the views are endless. The local baboon troop had been very vocal as we snaked our way up the lower valley. The descent of the Pile was awkward, with the footing uneven and treacherous; it was like a far longer version of the infamous Kurktrekker in Jonkershoek.
If the map and track above doesn’t work for you, download the kmz file and view in Google Earth.
In our group was one Franco, a 75 year-old Italian from Lake Garda who winters in Stellenbosch and often joins MCSA outings. I find it amazing that he is able to do these hikes which are fairly strenuous affairs, especially in the Cape summer heat. He credits a Mediterranean diet and lots of olive oil for his youthful vigour. No doubt genes also play a role. Anyway, now I have a role model.