New Forest Run route scouting fun

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My Forest Run event is moving from its three-year home in the beautiful pine plantation of Lakenvlei (near Belfast/Dullstroom), to the hills and valleys of the Vredevort Dome, within spitting distance of my new home town of Parys.

It looks like Saturday, 21 May 2016 will be the new date. Almost confirmed – very, very likely.

Despite my best intentions to get out onto the trails over the festive season, I didn’t. We were topping upper 30s and into the 40s – it was just too hot! We had better temperatures last week so on Thursday I headed out to scout trails in the first of a few sections that I aim to link. Although the morning was cool, it was up to 35°C for a chunk of the day. But what a magnificent day to put in 27 kilometres of exploring! I haven’t yet done half the trails I want to check out for the new route and I aim to get out there again on Wednesday to explore another section I have my eye on.

My mom, Liz, came out with me on Thursday. We split up shortly after the start as she was planning to just walk to the waterfall and turn back (about 4km total). She climbed up the steep and rocky section to the top of the waterfall and decided going down would be too tricky. Instead of descending she decided to do a loop trail section. She missed the critical turn-off and corrected later, but it meant an extra few kilometres. I think she put in 13-14 kilometres of some friendly sections and a bunch of technical, rocky trail. She rocked it and wants more. Well done mom xxx.

After some deliberation, I will be keeping the event name as Forest Run. The same event and feel, different location. While there isn’t a pine plantation out here, it is far more forested than you’d expect. Natural forest and a diversity of tree and vegetation types. You’ll see some of this in the photos below.

Here are some photos from my first day playing in the Dome.

A lovely foresty section – cool and shaded.
Yeah, we have got trees here.
Lying in the shade. It was about 34C – a hammock under the trees would have been divine.
Checking out an old open mine from back in the 1800s when gold was found in the area. The find didn’t turn out to be as good as hoped. Mining folded and the people left the area.
Another foresty section. It got better and better.
An open, fast-running section.
Water reservoirs are fabulous. I was surprised to find this one full. Very inviting!
A trail runs through the valley below – I’ll definitely use it because I so enjoyed being down there.
This was quite a climb up in temperatures of 35C. I was roasting!
There is such an incredible mix of terrain – and I haven’t even covered half of what I want to check out. This is a rocky trail section.
Howz this! A forest of protea trees on top of the one ridge.
Trig beacon bagging.
Windmills are so cool. Down in the valley.
I wet my hat in the cattle drinking trough on the other side of the reservoir.
It was a treat to come over a saddle to see lush green fields and pastures, the Vaal River and my end point.
Lots and lots and lots of sugarbush protea trees – not many proteas out.
And then I saw this one next to the trail.
Despite a full reservoir and having a good drink at a bush camp, I was thirsty when I got back.
It was a hot but fabulous day out there.

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