On the 6th of January, Wayne and I, Annabelle-Linda Gertze (Hikers Network Hike Leader), set off towards Gordon’s Bay to meet up with our fellow HNHC members in anticipation of the long-awaited Crystal Pools hike. Staying true to our hiking tradition we made a quick pitstop at McDonald’s for some cheeseburgers with jalapeno sauce, which usually serves as breakfast!
We arrived at the parking area ahead of time and whilst Wayne explored the area taking a few photos I had a short morning nap. At about 7h30 am the rest of the team arrived, eager to get the hike started but patiently waiting for the park rangers to check our permit. They also assured us of no baboon sightings in the reserve, which we were warned against by fellow hikers.
Our hike leader, Shamiel, did the briefing and we set off on an easy but brisk pace with Steven being the sweeper of the 19-member team.
Since I’ve never done this trail before I wasn’t too sure about what to expect – the only knowledge that there are 5 pools one can swim in or picnic at.
The trail, albeit it rocky, is clearly marked and after a short walk, you’ll have a view of the Steenbras River flowing underneath the bridge we drove over earlier that morning. Both Wayne and I commented on the fact that we took a gazillion road trips passing over the bridge and never knew what lies beneath it. A magnificent view of the bridge, the river and the ocean await you.
We continued along the trail, which at some points, is a bit of a scramble over the rocks but spirits were high and all we could talk about was reaching the pools and enjoying the swimming break we all anticipated. Shortly after our first rest stop one of the members said she was feeling dizzy and nauseous and would not be able to continue any further.
After some consultation and discussion between the leaders, it was decided that two of us, Wayne and Nabeal, would escort her and hubby back to their car and then catch up with the group at pool no 2. It placed a bit of a damper on the mood of the day but it was soon forgotten as we steadily made our way to the pools with the sun hot on our backs.
The pools were simply amazing and well worth the hike there … picture perfect with the waterfall in the background. We quickly stripped down to our swimming gear and eagerly yet cautiously ventured into the deep dark waters. It was simply breathtaking. We extended our stay at pool no 2 to allow Wayne and Nabeal time to return and rejoin the group. This allowed for plenty of swimming and playful antics in the water.
Upon their return, we decided not to continue to the rest of the pools but rather make our way back to pool no 1, where we relaxed a bit, enjoyed some more swimming and a quick bite to eat before journeying back.
All too soon it was time for us to pack up and head back. The sun was scorching hot by now and it wasn’t long before we were yearning for the cool waters we left behind. Sadly, Toeghfa sustained a minor foot/toe injury after stumbling over a rock and whilst Shamiel expertly applied ointment and bandages to her foot the guys made a makeshift canopy from a towel to provide some shady relief in the heat.
We continued at a slightly slower pace from here, enjoying the beautiful views and in-between stopping to take lots of photos. Our last picture was taken on the sandy patch by the river before completing the last few steps of the trail.
What an awesome day this was, a hike to be remembered for a very long time. The group was jovial from start to finish, the company was great, the sights were magnificent, the leaders were fantastic but the highlight of the day was without a doubt the mountain pools?
The debriefing was done at the car park after which Wayne and I treated the team to some ice-cold cans of coke, which even I gladly welcomed at that point. We said our goodbyes and took the long drive home once again happy to be part of such an amazing group of people.