What started as a casual hiking group at the end of September, has in two short months mushroomed into an enthusiastically supported group offering a range of outdoor activities and experiences. The Hermanus Hiking & Outdoor Group has also garnered more than 600 members on its Facebook page.
Started by Onrus resident Klaradyn Stemmet, a mother of two and owner of Nonna, a 10-month-old German shepherd who all love the great outdoors, the group is open to anyone who enjoys being out in nature. Its members include residents from the Overstrand and some who live in other areas and even overseas. Showcasing the natural beauty of Hermanus and its surrounds, an unexpected spinoff has been that it is proving a great marketing opportunity for our town.
Mountain biking had been Klaradyn’s main sport until two accidents resulting in neck injuries somewhat curtailed her biking activities. Undeterred, she looked for another outlet and decided to escalate her regular dog walks to more ambitious hiking excursions. Klaradyn says she loves getting away from it all and her favourite walks are those that take her out of sight of houses and into nature. One of the reasons for starting the hiking group was the fact that for a woman hiking alone there are security risks, and by bringing like-minded people together there would be more opportunities to explore and enjoy nature safely.
She hopes the club will bring people joy and give those joining her a greater awareness of nature, themselves and others, says Klaradyn. “It’s all about getting in touch with yourself and what really matters most.” The group, whose members vary in age from 10 to over 70 years of age, has hiked some beautiful routes and many new friends have been made. Anyone is welcome to join the Facebook group as well as the WhatsApp group for regular updates and the hikes are free of charge, unless a cost is indicated for a specific outing.
Hikes vary from mountain trails and jeep tracks to leisurely walks along coastal paths. A recent Saturday morning hike took us via a hidden kloof in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley to an unexpected waterfall before descending through vineyards and past dams back to the starting point. Along the way we could indulge our senses not only in the magnificent mountain and bay views but also in the many flowers blooming at this time of the year. After the hike several hikers opted to relax over a cup of coffee at Die Plaaskombuis.
So who joins these hikes? Men and women from all walks of life, and for many reasons. Some are there because there is security in numbers, others want to expand their knowledge of the area and explore different routes. A recent newcomer admitted to being a cricket widow, who preferred hiking to watching cricket, but did not want to hike alone. It’s not unusual to rub shoulders with doctors, teachers, and the occasional swimming coach. Children and dogs (when permitted) are welcome. On a typical hike you’ll find the group splits according to fitness levels, and when possible there will be access to shortcuts for the less fit, or those pressed for time.
When not outdoors Klaradyn teaches English online from home. When Covid-19 struck, she decided to take a sabbatical from her job as a real estate agent to spend more time with her children (daughter Karmyn, who is now writing matric and her younger brother, Janco) and her mom, who is ill. Her two passions are nature and art, both of which she finds healing and peaceful, and in her down time you’ll find her in front of the easel painting seascapes and landscapes. She has also started teaching pottery, which she says is another way in which people can just play and express themselves.
Klaradyn has her ear to the ground when it comes to outdoor activities and recently organised kayaking trips out of the Hermanus Old harbour. Members are also welcome to organise outings and put the details on the WhatsApp group. For further information go to the Hermanus Hiking & Outdoor Group on Facebook, where you can see more about previous and planned activities. Klaradyn is also an accomplished photographer and she posts inspiring photos of the routes, scenery, views and flowers after every hike.