Mount Everest (20/22 April 2012)

Not the real one, this one is a mountain near Harrismith called by that name. Why? I don't know, it doesn't look and is by far not as high as the real Mount Everest. Looking at the map now, I see that this is the name of the farm and not the name of one of the three sandstone blocks sticking out of the country side nearby.
The accommodation is on a working farm, which at one stage was a holiday farm with lots of chalets and huts for visitors to stay in. But over the years it got somewhat neglected and was only recently taken over by a new farmers who wants to get things going again. His main activity seems to be sheep, he has got 1500 of them. Also game is running around, different bucks, Springboks, Zebras, Wildebeest and Ostriches. And also Fallow Deer, yes I know it comes from Europe, but apparently there are quite a few of them around in this part of the Free-state.
We all accumulated on Friday afternoon and spread ourselves over two huts. The night was a bit hectic because the male of the Deer was ranting the whole night, was that to keep his females close to him or was it to warn other males to stay away? Anyway, it was noisy, but not so that it was unpleasant, after all it was the noise of nature, who can complain about that?
Inquiring with farmer where we should hike we were told the farm is open to us, we can go where we want. That didn't help us too much, so after some further probing we were put in direction of Aarent Kop (Eagles Head), the picture shows that pretty clearly. That meant we could follow a path all the way to the top. And so we did, I never thought that we would actually be able to get onto the head, it was only a small climb for the not too faint hearted.
The route down was more difficult than coming up. Grass and loose gravel made walking a bit difficult, I slipped and fell due to the grass.
When we were finished and back down in camp we had done 6.3km and climbed up 300 meters. An event of the late afternoon was to watch the sheep come in, all 1500. A sub-event was watching 10 mothers and their newborn kids being reunited after the mothers had their feed. Amazing how each mother was able to pick her newborn lamb the 10 lambs milling around. There were some ancient moments when the last mother just kept on eating, but eventually she stopped and without further hesitation found her kid.
The night was shortened by a film show, we had 'Seven Years in Tibet'. The film is about Heinrich Harrer who was in an internment camp in India during the war, escaped and made his way into Tibet where he became the teacher of the young Daily Lhama. Its a story based on facts, Heinrich Harrer really did exist, he died a few years ago at the age of 93.
Sunday morning started off very lazy with: 'what are we going to do today?'. Some of us took a hike that was up the neck between the two mountains, the farmer said we should see some game there. Well, we did and also visited a hut high up on the mountain. The most amazing sight of this hike were the 'canon balls', see picture. Lots of discussion about what they are and how they got there followed and ended without conclusion. And that was the end of the weekend.