Section C: On the trail in the Cederberg

It is strongly recommended that you read this material and include it in your training before the Adventure. Have these practices firmly in your mind when you arrive, and put them into practice from day one.

Camping and backpacking in the mountain wilderness is a privilege. This privilege carries with it a great responsibility to preserve and not to desecrate its natural beauties. This responsibility is placed squarely on your shoulders.

On the Trail

On the first day some Patrols will be transported to Activity Centres for the night, others will leave the following morning and some will set off on the trail. Then with packs on your backs, you will hike off into the mountains and enjoy the Adventure to the utmost.

Hiking

You should not hike at your top speed when on the trail, or you will see nothing but the heels of the person in front of you. Relax and set an easy pace that lets you look around. There's no rush. You are not racing anyone. Take advantage of the many beautiful and unusual sights around you. Hiking in the mountains is not just a method of getting from A to B. It can be the most enjoyable activity of your expedition if you will slow down enough to enjoy it. Take frequent rests and enjoy the scenery. Your chances of seeing wildlife are much greater when hiking than in camp, so keep your eyes open. Relax and enjoy the beauty and the comradeship of your fellow Scouts. Make sure the Patrol keeps together and strictly follows your itinerary.

The Cape summer can be very hot. A wise Patrol will set off hiking during the early part of the day when it is cool; have breakfast after an hour or so on the trail and rest up in the shade at midday/ early afternoon whilst having lunch and a swim; resume hiking when the heat of the early afternoon cools down. Temperatures of around 40ºC are not uncommon. In summer there is a long twilight with daylight until approximately 8 pm.

Backpacking and Camping

Backpacking and camping is the major activity at an Adventure. When your trip is over, you will probably find that your memories are mainly those of just 'camping out' in the mountains, kloofs, and vlaktes; of sleeping in the open among the rocks under the brilliant stars; or of swimming in a mountain pool.

During your hike around the Cederberg, you will camp at:

  • Trail Camps
    Here you will make your camp in the mountains by yourselves as you make your way from one Activity Centre to another. Patrols whose itineraries take them on trails in the higher mountainous areas should be prepared for dry camps. Make sure that your water bottles & containers are full when entering the high area. Wherever you are, enjoy the uniqueness of the site, and leave as little evidence of your presence as possible. Remember, no fires or open flames of any sort are permitted. See elsewhere in this document regarding gas stoves.

  • Activity Centres
    Here the Activity Centre Leader and his assistants will meet you, greet you, and help you to gain the maximum fun and enjoyment out of their activity. At a few of the Activity Centres you can buy cool drinks and relax in the evening in a tent.

Hiking through private farms

To reach some Activity Centres, you will be hiking through private farms and occasionally through fruit orchards. Without the kind co-operation of these farmers, it would not have been possible to have the Adventure. Therefore, you are on your Honour to maintain a high standard of behaviour as Scouts enjoying a privilege. We are confident that you will not let us down.

Particular points to watch are:

  • When crossing a farm take the shortest route across to your destination. When hiking through orchards, ploughed or cultivated lands KEEP TO THE ROADS, or walk around them. Should you meet a farmer or farm manager greet him politely.
  • Do NOT climb over fences. Always look for a gate, even if this means a detour. If the gates are closed, re-close them after you have passed through.

  • Do not pick, pick up, or eat any fruit when you are passing near or through any orchards. Not only is there a real health hazard of poisoning from insecticide sprays on the fruit, but also we do not want to jeopardise the goodwill of the farmers who depend on the fruit for a living. Strong action will be taken against anyone who breaks this rule.
  • Do NOT use any of the farm facilities like ablution blocks without the farmer's permission.

  • Keep out of the farmer's way - and his workers - as far as possible. This is a busy time on the farms and work must not be hindered by our presence. Should he stop and wish to talk you may, of course, have a conversation with him. Farmers should only be approached in cases of REAL EMERGENCY - in all other cases contact the Adventure staff.

Swimming

To cool off when hiking, take every opportunity to swim in any mountain streams you may find along your route. These refreshing swims along the trail add greatly to the enjoyment of the hike. There will be many opportunities for swimming in both large pools in the kloof and in small mountain streams. You may also swim in the dam at the Water Activities Centre. Sensible hikers do not DIVE or JUMP into mountain pools owing to the hazard of submerged rocks. The water is generally clear, and even if one can see the rocks in the pools it is easy to misjudge their distance below the surface. There is no bilharzia risk. Be wise, enter pools carefully.

Magic Moments

Much of the comradeship and informal fellowship in your Patrol is built while you are cooking and chatting at the end of the day at your camping site. Don't let these "magic moments" deteriorate into merely "fooling around". This is when you can prove your worth to your fellow Scouts. Play your full part in camp - don't always wait until you are asked to lend a hand. If you meet other Patrols on the Trail or at the Activity Centres be friendly and swap stories of your adventures.

Fires and Cooking

As you will be hiking and camping in mountains with tinder-dry vegetation, fires will only be permitted at Camping Headquarters, and at certain Activity Centres. At all other places, all cooking must be done on backpacking stoves and no fires are permitted. This is a strict rule.

Safety precautions when using gas stoves

Make sure the stove is standing firmly on a flat base in an area, at least 2 metres in diameter, clear of inflammable bushes/undergrowth/kit. First have your matches ready. THEN turn on the gas and light the stove immediately. Always make sure the gas is properly turned off when you have finished cooking. When changing cylinders make sure there are no leaks. Carry empty cylinders to the nearest Activity Centre or Camping HQ to dispose of them.

Safety

If you are injured or ill

If you read your map correctly, you always know your approximate position in relation to the Activity Centres and Camping Headquarters where you can get help. If a member of your Patrol is injured do not attempt to move them if they are unable to walk.

If they are seriously hurt send at least two members of your Patrol to the nearest Activity Centre or Camping Headquarters for help. The Patrol Leader always stays with the injured or ill person until they are handed over to the Adventure Staff. The Patrol Leader then re-joins their Patrol.
(Note that you must keep your backpack with you at all times and not leave it with the injured person as they may be taken to a different location to you and you will be left without your kit)

Consideration will be given to your being sent back to Cape Town should the Medical Team deem you unable to continue hiking on the Adventure.

Accidents

The most serious accidents that could happen on the Adventure are those that could occur from falls when negotiating small cliffs, rocky outcrops, and descending gullies. When hiking you must be constantly alert to the ever-present danger when climbing or descending steep, rocky mountain slopes or gullies. Common sense will help you to differentiate between the difficult and dangerous areas and to by-pass the dangerous areas completely. Avoid gullies with loose stones and rubble. Your Patrol Leader has the responsibility for choosing the safest and best route when your Patrol is hiking. Follow him/her at all times. Loose rocks are easily dislodged and crumble. Great care needs to be taken to make sure of each step taken. Avoid rolling rocks downward, particularly if your Patrol is below you. WATCH OUT FOR LOOSE ROCKS AT ALL TIMES.

If your Patrol is descending a mountainside unknown to you, the Patrol Leader should look for easy 'leads' that lead down through the rock bands. Usually these are found on the slopes of gullies, rarely on the buttresses or on the shoulder of a rock band. Often a recce is necessary to find a safe way.

Beware of lightning and flash floods

Although summer is the dry season in the Cape, the possibility exists that we might experience a frontal storm and rain. During a lightning storm, avoid shelter at the base of trees. If caught in the open, lie down in a sheltering gully or ravine so that there are other portions of land higher than your body. Stay away from fences that conduct electricity, and do not hike on high ground.

During periods of heavy rain, stay away from the bottom of gorges or in narrow streambeds. Be sure to make your camp on higher ground. Innocent thread-like streams - and the bigger ones - can become raging rivers in very little time. The streams drain a huge catchment area and water levels can rise rapidly. So make your camp where it is high and dry.

What to do when lost or “Confused”

Yes, 'confused' is the word for it. No one ever gets lost at a Senior Scout Adventure. If your Patrol stays together whilst hiking instead of stretching over a long distance on the trail, the possibility of anyone becoming lost is remote. It is the duty of the patrol leader to keep their party together. Most accidents occur to individuals who have separated from their Patrols. So keep together at all times. The Patrol Leader should never allow one member of his Patrol to leave camp alone. Always be sure there are 3 or more in the party if they make any side trips or leave camp without the rest.

If you use your map correctly, you are not likely to lose your way. If, however, someone gets separated from the Patrol, or the whole Patrol gets 'confused', it is best to travel downhill until you come to a path or road, and failing this to continue down a stream until you reach the main valley. The peaks make good landmarks and are usually visible for kilometres. Use them to locate your position on the map. If you or the Patrol is 'confused' do not attempt to travel at night. Stop in a safe camping area and make camp. Most searching, except in dire emergencies, is done in daylight. Prepare yourself for as comfortable a night as possible.

Hypothermia (Abnormally low body temperature)

Although you are very unlikely to encounter the conditions that can cause hypothermia, you and all members of the Patrol should have an understanding of the subject. Hypothermia means loss of heat or, more precisely, a lowering of the temperature of the body's inner core and leads to uncontrollable shivering, followed by increasing clumsiness and loss of judgement, and a fairly rapid descent into unconsciousness and death.

Adequate knowledge, adequate clothing, emergency shelter, and emergency rations would prevent most accidents from hypothermia

The conditions for hypothermia are:

  • COLD (not necessarily extreme)
  • WETNESS (caused by rain, melting snow, immersion or even condensed perspiration)

  •  

    WIND (which vastly increases the chilling effect of coldness and wetness)
  • A LIKELY VICTIM (meaning a person who is probably exhausted and is certainly unprepared to protect him/herself) and a combination of four factors are likely to be present.

Heat Exhaustion

When backpacking on the Adventure, you will probably sweat more than usual. To avoid dehydration in the hot summer you need to drink water from time to time. Be sure to drink when you feel thirsty and not just for the sake of it. Over hydration is equally as dangerous as dehydration. Additional salt is not required.

The main symptom is faintness, usually with a sense of pounding of the heart. The person feels ill and cold, and complains of weakness and dizziness. Commonly they have a severe headache. They are ashen pale and their skin is cold and clammy. Collapse is frequent. A person who has collapsed and is sweating freely almost certainly is suffering from heat exhaustion.

The treatment is simple:

  • Move the patient to a cool shady area.
  • Allow them to rest and cool off.
  • Make the patient lie down with their legs and feet elevated. Remove their hat, shirt, and vest (if any)
  • If they are conscious, give them regular sips of cool water until such time as they feel they have had enough.
  • The patients must not expose themselves to heat again on the same day.

If recovery is not prompt and complete, remove the patient to Camping HQ.
Scouts and their leaders should train for tough hiking before the Adventure to reduce the possibility of collapse from heat exhaustion. Swim on the trail as often as you can, and take frequent rests.

Don’t handle animals and snakes

Do not handle ground animals like squirrels, rats etc. as they often transmit plague or rabies. There are several poisonous snakes in the Cape mountains - the Cape Cobra, the Puff Adder, the Rinkhals, and the Berg Adder are the most dangerous. If you come across them - and you should take the normal common-sense precautions just as you would anywhere else - DO NOT INTERFERE WITH THEM. Give them a wide berth and LEAVE THEM ALONE. Under NO circumstances pick one up, whether alive or supposedly dead.

Health

The strict adherence to proper health and sanitation practice is even more important than at home. Each camper is responsible to the other members of his Patrol. For example, if the person doing the dish washing does not wash the dishes properly there is the risk of infection and dysentery. Here are some good trail practices:

  • Keep personally clean
    Don't allow yourself to become dirty and slovenly. Swim when you get the opportunity. Do not wash the soap off yourself or do your laundry in the pools or streams. Think of the Patrols that are following you and who may need drinking water.

  • Wash your dishes and cutlery carefully
    Well before you have finished your cooking, place a billy on the stove for dishwashing. Not only is it easier to wash with hot water, it is also safer. Make sure that you wash away from streams or pools. Careless dishwashing sooner or later leads to illness. Remember that someone downstream may rely on that water for drinking.

  • Drinking Water
    Water in the mountains is generally safe for drinking. If possible, always draw your drinking water from a running stream or spring. Where there are farms and habitation, bear in mind that upstream pollution may have occurred and that the streams or dams are polluted with insecticides.

  • Take proper care of your feet
    Cleanliness of feet and socks is a MUST for hiking comfort. Wash them before and after a hike. Change socks daily. In the evening, enjoy the comfort of dry socks and tackies. Treat cuts and sores on the feet with antiseptic and bandages. Blisters should receive immediate attention with plaster the moment you feel a tender spot developing; don't wait until a real blister develops.

  • Toilets
    At Activity Centres chemical toilets are provided for your use. A special retriever will be made available for items that may not be disposed of in the chemical toilets. At all trail camps, your expedition must dig a straddle trench for its use. Keep a small shovel or wooden paddle at the latrine so that material in the pit is covered after each usage. Do not put other materials such as garbage, paper or rubbish in the trench as animals will dig it up. Before leaving, be sure to fill the trench completely, pack down the earth and mound over to avoid erosion. Place stones over the mound.

Wilderness Manners

The importance of good wilderness manners cannot be over-emphasised. Because there will be a large number of Scouts attending the Adventure, it is necessary to be even more careful about wilderness manners. We have been given the privilege of holding the Adventure in a declared wilderness area - let us be worthy of this trust. Unfortunately, over the past two Adventures we have come in for severe criticism from outsiders and CapeNature due to certain Patrols paying scant attention to rubbish removal off the mountains.
Each participant must do everything possible to preserve the beauty and wonder of the Cederberg Conservancy through good Scout camping.

Every Participant and Staff member will be required to sign a copy of the Adventure’s Outdoor Code as a personal undertaking.

The major areas of emphasis involved are:

  • Rubbish
    Each camper should make sure that all trails and campsites are left clean and neat. Never let it be said that the Cederberg is a messy place because YOU were there. This aspect cannot be over-emphasised.

    Put sweet wrappers and other rubbish in your pocket while hiking and deposit them in the first rubbish container that you come across. Please pick up any litter you come across, and do not leave any yourself. Our reputation is now in your hands.

    When on the trail, rubbish and trash should never be buried or scattered in some "out of the way" place. Animals invariably dig up anything buried and scatter it around, creating an erosion problem in the process. Carry the rubbish, in the bag provided, in your rucksack to the nearest refuse container at an Activity Centre or Camping Headquarters.

  • Graffiti
    Graffiti is a 'litter' more offensive than paper. Not only is graffiti defacing, but also it is contrary to all that Scouting stands for. Make sure that neither you nor the members of your Patrol add to this offensive practice.

  • Water
    Remember, you are in a land where water is scarce and very precious, please use it wisely. Never wash with soap, do laundry, or clean utensils in the rivers. Everyone needs water, and you should always leave the springs and streams as clean as you found them. Do your washing on the bank well away from the water.

  • Trails
    Do not take shortcuts by cutting across switchbacks on the trail; paths are made to avoid erosion, and do not interfere with any trail signs. Respect all the trails in the Cederberg

  • Campsites
    Each Patrol is responsible for leaving an orderly and neat campsite, whether it is in Camping H.Q., Activity Centres, or Trail Camps.

  • Nature
    No picking of flowers, please. Sketch and photograph them if you wish, but leave them to grow and seed.

  • Desecration
    Do not carve your initials and names on trees, or scrawl graffiti in caves and rock shelters. Good wilderness manners require you as an experienced senior Scout to leave nothing in the Cederberg area except the imprint of your boot and a reputation as a fine Adventurer.

    The Cederberg abounds with Rock Art and, apart from the famous Cederberg Elephants near Stadsaal; you could come across some of your own accord, under rock shelters whilst on the trail. Feel free to study and interpret them but never touch them – with anything, least of all with your fingers.


Leave guns, fireworks, radios, iPod, and cd players at home

Guns are not permitted in Nature Conservation and on the private land we shall be using.

Fireworks are a great fire hazard that could easily start a veldfire, so please leave them at home.

The End of the Expedition

Eventually your itinerary will take you back to Camping Headquarters on the afternoon of the second last day.
Some Patrols will hike back and some will be transported from Activity Centres, depending on their itineraries.

Award

Help your Patrol earn the 'Award' at the end of the Adventure by being Scout-minded with a good attitude, co-operative and enthusiastic. Stick to the itinerary, arrive at bases on time, participate in the activities and have good wilderness manners.

The Award is worn on your Scout uniform below the Senior Scout Adventure badge.

Closing Camp Fire

There will be a traditional final Camp Fire in the evening at Camping Headquarters on the last night. All Patrols and staff are expected to attend.

Who may participate

Scout Patrols where all Scouts are over the age of 15 (barring very exceptional circumstances) but not yet turned 18 at the start of the Adventure, qualify to enter. Scouter Patrols where all adults are over the age of 18 are welcome to enter too. 

Adventure History

The Heritage Team have posted some interesting facts on previous Adventures. Click here for a trip into the past.