History of the People’s Trail and the Back Table

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Brett Myrdal the Park manager at the time and a true Visionary.. some good days and projects / pic Brett and Myself at the Launch 16 June 2005

The Peoples Trail – makes History for Table Mountain

On the 16th June it was an historic occasion for Table Mountain and South Africa. The launch of a hiking trail dedicated in bringing those from disadvantaged communities on The Cape Flats, an overnight experience on Table Mountain. The Peoples Trail. What a day to launch – June 16th, Youth Day. Celebrating Youth Day and at the same time remembering those that have fallen in the struggle for liberation. The trail is part of the Hoerikwaggo Trail System to be launched next year and boasts a top class overnight hut and newly constructed trail system in the most pristine area in the Table Mountain National Park.

Table Mountain National Park, Schools Environment Education Project (SEEP), Pride of Table Mountain and The Hikers Network, together are managing partners for this Trail. These organizations together through their existing Outreach Programs will bring youth on the Peoples Trail together. They will be responsible for managing outreach programs, the hiking trail and the overnight hut.

Representatives from SEEP, Pride of Table Mountain, The Hikers Network and Table Mountain National Park Management, assembled at Orangekloof on 15th June at 3pm with youth from Cape Flats Communities to start proceedings for the launch on 16th June. 12 Hoerikwagga trail guides that will be used for the 5 day Hoerikwaggo trail when it’s launched, were our guides for the day. They briefed and guided us up Disa Gorge to the new Peoples Trail Hut, where the group of 30 overnighted for the launch on the 16th. On the 16th, dignitaries joined the group. They were driven up to the Peoples Trail hut. At 10.30am the Minister of Environmental affairs and Tourism launched the trail. The atmosphere was that of celebration and jubilation. The Peoples Trail hut was the venue and I must say this hut is the best I have seen. It is equipped with all the needs for hiking and more. This to support youth from disadvantaged communities making their stay unforgettable.

The Minister unveiled a plaque on the wall on the patio area of the hut with the following inscription: “The Hoerikwagga People’s Trail”, and was officially opened by the Honorable Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, on 16th June 2005. The trail honours the youth that gave their lives so that all South Africans may have the freedom to experience the spirit of Table Mountain and hike in the footsteps of our ancestors who named it “Hoerikwaggo” – the Sea Mountain. After the proceeding we were treated with a catered lunch, compliments of the Table Mountain National Park, and people mingled and socialized.

The Hikers Network is proudly one of the managing partners of this trail. We now have the opportunity to expand our Outreach Programmes with the other managing partners.This surely will benefit communities. For me it was a very emotional moment to see all this come together. It has been a dream for many years and it was unbelievable what the Table Mountain National Park has contributed to this Peoples Trail. A good trail system and an excellent overnight facility where education can take place. I want to make special mention of a few people from Table Mountain National Park. Brett Myrdal (Park Manager), Xola Makefe (Manager People and Conservation), Stephen Lamb (Hoerikwagga Trail Project Manager) and all the other team members from the park. Thanks to all of you for the work and the consultation.

The trail route is as follows:

From Constantia Nek, through Orange Kloof, along the Ring road, up Disa Gorge, to Woodhead dam and then onto the People’s hut via the Waterworks Museum, for the sleepover. On departure from the hut the following morning, the route to follow would be the Kitchen Ravine path, taking in all the stupendous views and onto Echo valley. At the wooden bridge, crossing the stream, the trail will continue upwards, winding it’s way to the upper plateau, just short of Platteklip gorge. At this point, a circular route via Maclear’s Beacon can be incorporated into the trail, depending on the weather conditions, visibility and the time factor. The route, at the top of Platteklip gorge would be down the gorge.

The end of the trail would be Tafelberg Road/ bottom of Platteklip gorge. Maximum size will be a group of 20, which will include a minimum of two experienced hike leaders/guides + 2 teachers (community leaders), acting as sweepers. Minimum size will be a total of 10 persons, including one experienced hike leader/guide and one teacher/community leader, acting as sweeper.

The trail will accommodate 20 persons per day with 4 guides.The guides will be from the managing partners and are existing hikers that will be trained and assessed accordingly.
Many thanks to all once again
Anwaaz Bent: Hikers Network Convener

References: Meridian hiking club

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