Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hike the Cederberg ... #1

At last I can tell you that we’re getting stuck into a new map – Hike the Cederberg – the walkers’ map of the Cederberg that I’ve always wanted to draw.

Back in 1980 I was asked by the Dept Bosbou to quote for a hiking map of the Cederberg. Before I could even lift a drawing pen the then-boss of Trig Survey announced that his department would draw the map, instead of me. Well, I was just the private enterprise guy; I wasn't a member of the Broederbond, and the SADF didn't like me a lot either, so for the next 29 years Cederberg hikers used the big map with the pincushion and the snow protea on the cover, because that’s all there was.

It wasn’t that bad as maps go, and later editions were printed on PolyArt/Duraflex waterproof paper, too, but it was never revised and it slowly drifted into a state of increasing inaccuracy. The Earth is a dynamic, ever-changing place and every map, no matter who drew it, is out of date on the very day it’s printed. This might not have bothered everyone, but I used to worry that the map still announced the existence – and the location – of the Heuningvlei Forest Station. Well, that Forest Station was demolished at about the time that the map was first published; there is nary a trace left of the village, the offices and even the school that once stood there – not even a rusty beercan.

Which isn’t so hot if, while seeking help for your injured friend on Groot-Krakadouw in the gathering mist, you thought that – of course! – at the Forest Station there’ll be help, and a telephone at least.

Sad about your friend, hay.

In due course Cape Nature took over the Cederberg from the old Forestry Department – rumour has it that the change was made to ‘save’ the Cederberg from National Parks. That may be true or not, but in 2009 a veld fire raged down the Algeria valley and took out the old thatched Cape Nature office. With the office went valuable research files, and the entire remaining stock of the 1981 map.

Something Had to be Done – and fast, because a hiker without a map is a lost hiker waiting for a rescue. Time was short and an ‘interim’ map was compiled.

Although it had some improvements, it also repeated lots of the boo-boo’s for which the 1981 map had become well-known. Even the ghostly Heuningvlei Forest Station, now gone for 30 years, was faithfully resurrected. I won’t mention the Welbedacht Forest Station as well – there is at least a small pile of rubble and a grave for that one. And a couple of rusty fences. And, if you know where to look, one rather lost snow protea assiduously cultivated by a long-gone forester.

So – well, we took the gap. With the agreement of Cape Nature our intrepid researcher Matt set out to walk and track and photograph every path ...

Of which more anon, because I'm told my blogs are too long, so I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for Episode #2 ...

Hike the Cederberg blog
Slingsby Maps

To be continued ...
Kaartman, 15 November 2011

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