Luke John Roberts
Where is your MicroAdventure located?
Eastern Cape, Hogsback
How long is the MicroAdventure in total, out and back?
Give the people a short description of your MicroAdventure.
We flew in to East London airport on the Thursday morning with just the packs on our back. Our running packs were stuffed inside, along with our gear and nutrition. We had planned to do this trip differently from other trips James and I had been on before. We were both fortunate enough to race bicycles professionally for a number of years which had distorted our views on travel. It was always about getting to the ‘start line’ with a full tank, having used as little energy as possible. We did so by managing uncertainty - we planned everything. This trip we decided to do things differently - we hitch hiked.
We “hiked” from East London to King Williams Town first. A local guy stopped and picked us up, it cost us R30. From just outside KWT we caught a lift on the back of a bakkie to what we thought was the right road, it wasn’t. This cost us R0 but we did have to walk through KWT to the taxi rank on the far side of the town. From their a gentleman helped us find a taxi that was heading to Alice but the road to Hogsback was 3-4km before the town so we had to jump off on the side of the road around this point. This cost us R30.
Now on the road to Hogsback things were a little more scarce, fewer cars, less opportunities, we started to wonder how long we would wait. After 20min or so a guy who passed us did a u-turn up ahead and came back for us. He took us all the way to Hogsback, and offered us a beer. This cost us R50. We arrived late afternoon, headed straight to The Lighthouse for a pizza and beer before retiring for the evening.
Friday morning dawned, we smashed a brekkie at Away With The Fairies Backpackers before our final taxi to the start. We started the run a little after 09:00 and ran down the fire road to the left of the Amatola sign board, assuming “it must be down here…” We came running back 5 minutes later after looking at the map (yes we should have looked before haha) and then headed off down some of the more beautiful forest I have ever run in. Our Hogsback Hundred had started.
The Amatola trail is a 6 day, 100km hiking trail with 5,000m of ascent that we were attempting to run in 2 days. We were going to run ‘day 1, 2 and 3’ on our first day and ‘day 4, 5 and 6’ on our second day. We planned on overnighting at Cata hut (day 3’s hut).
The run was a lot slower than we originally anticipated. The climbing was really vertical which meant slow going but then the descends where just as steep, meaning just as slow going. We were feeling really good and taking in all the breathtaking scenery. We got to day 1’s hut just before lunch where we proceeded to have a light snack but keep it short. We still had 34km to go.
We checked off day 2’s hut late in the afternoon and we had to suckle if we were to make Cata Hut before nightfall. The 4-5 km of fireroad just before the hut was our saving grace, allowing us to cover ground quickly. We arrived as it was getting dark, jumped straight in an ice cold shower before heading in to the completely empty Cata Hut. The Hut sleeps 24 but it was just the two of us tonight… in the middle of the woods… with no signal… fun right? We had all our gear on our backs in a 15L pack so the more we ate tonight meant the less we had to carry tomorrow. We ate our future life and packet tuna while thinking of a gourmet meal trying to make the meal tastier than it really was. We slept in lightweight sleeping liners + thermals + a space blanket. We survived the night but it wasn’t comfortable by any stretch of the imagination.
Our day two had the biggest climbs of the whole trip. We started at close to 780m and started up the aptly named “Mini Everest.” We lost 2 hours when we missed a turn and got disoriented but once we got back on the trail it was pure bliss. We got to day 4’s hut relatively early on but we were feeling the results of yesterday’s efforts. Quick snack before heading on.
Between day 4 and day5’s huts we were in the pristine gorge running though, what felt like, a scene out of The Hobbit. Incredible greenery, nice open unable trails and huge walls on either side made for an unforgettable section in the run. We traversed four or five distinct vegetation biomes which is incredible when you think about it. The wrong turn early on cost us a sunset from Hogsback town with a beer. So we settled on top of a large boulder, 10km or so from the finish, and sent off the day with 2 x sugar coated jelly babies.
We finished in the dark which kind of added to the whole trip, kind of, right? One of the best adventures I have done to date.
Some stats from the run:
- 5,000m of climbing
- 20hrs of running
- 8,500 calories burned
- Loads of sugar coated energy bars
- A few packets of tuna
- Some nuts
- Plenty gees
How do you get to the start? Please share some directions.
You start at Madam Dam, 120km drive from Hogsback.
How much did it cost (per person)?
R2,501 - R5,000 per person
Best time to go?
Autumn, not too cold at night and not too hot during the day.
A quick note about safety. Can you do it solo? Do you need a crew?
You are not allowed to do it solo, a group of three is generally required.
Do you need any special permissions / permits?
How difficult is the MicroAdventure?
9 out of 10