Snow Hunting at Meadow Lane

Snow Hunting at Meadow Lane

Having had an immensely successful snow adventure 2 years ago (click here for the full report), we decided to give it another go when we heard that large falls were predicted over for the weekend. I took some unplanned, last minute leave and booked accommodation at a venue called Meadow Lane, just outside of Underberg. Being Mother’s Day we invited granny and headed up on Friday afternoon. Everything was on track and reports of thick snow were piling in before we even reached the mountains. Emma was massively excited to say the least.

We arrived at Meadow Lane just after 5pm and picked up our key from outside reception. The accommodation was great; a semi-attached cottage with 2 bedrooms, a lounge come dining room, small kitchenette, and a bathroom. There was of course the mandatory fireplace in the lounge, along with a complementary stack of firewood to ward off the cold. Each bedroom was also equipped with a wall heater for the colder winter days. The bathroom consisted of a bath, with an in-bath shower, and a sink and toilet. It simplistic but clean, and did the job. The kitchenette was fully equipped with a gas stove, oven and microwave, as well as all the cutlery and crockery one required.

Just outside the front door was a small pond filled with waterlilies, and the grounds were impeccably manicured. It was picturesque to say the least, especially with the autumn trees in full orange hue. Along with the smaller pond outside our unit, there was a larger dam on the property where guests can fish for bass. There was also a zip-line for guest to use which hung over another small dam. Although the venue doesn’t offer horse rides, there are horses and donkeys on the property which were great for the kids to play with. And of course all units had a braai just outside the door. Definitely a venue I would recommend if you are looking for something central in the Underberg area.

View of Faith Cottage across the small bass dam at Meadow Lane
View of Faith Cottage across the small bass dam at Meadow Lane

Getting back to our attempted snow adventure…

On Saturday morning we had a lazy start and enjoyed a great breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausages, and so on. We then climbed into the Fortuner and headed out to find the snow. Reports on the radio suggested that Sani Pass was full of snow, but that it had been closed as conditions were dangerous. We therefore decided to head for Swatberg in the hope of finding snow in safer conditions while avoiding the crowds. Sadly this was not to be as, despite their being large snowfalls, they were isolated to higher ground than on our previous trip.

We therefore turned around and headed back through Underberg (and Himeville) to Sani Pass. Having already been in the car for an hour we stopped off at Stonehouse Cafe for a much needed coffee break and to allow the kids to stretch their legs. The coffee was great, and the scones even better. Fuelled up and ready to build snowmen we carried on towards the pass.

As soon as the road turned from tar to dirt I knew conditions were going to be tough. The persistent rainfall had muddied the clay surface of the road, and the car instantly began sliding from side to side at even the slightest camber or corner.

At this point the road was flat and the skidding manageable. However as the incline grew, it got more dangerous. Eventually we came to a short, steep climb with two switchbacks, and a horde of cars. We pulled over over to wait our turn, and watched car after car attempt the climb with various levels of success.

The general trend was that the vehicle would attack the climb, the wheels would begin to spin, and the car would slowly slide into a ditch on the side of the road. For the next few minutes the driver would try to free the vehicle, and then the next car would try.

Having noted that only about 1 in 10 vehicles successfully completed the climb, I decided that it was too risky to attempt with my family in the vehicle. Sliding into the ditch was not a concern for me, but sliding off the road higher up the pass was. Feeling a little sad we turned the car around and headed back to Meadow Lane, enjoying the views on the way.

View of the snow capped mountains towering above Sinister Pool on the Umzimkulu River, Underberg
View of the snow capped mountains towering above Sinister Pool on the Umzimkulu River, Underberg

With some free time now available in the afternoon I decided to head out for a quick fish. I opted for Lake Ringstead as I hadn’t packed my float tube and wanted to fish off a boat. I got to the water just before 3pm and fished for an hour until around 4pm (so that I could shoot back to watch the Sharks game with a mate). It was overcast with a slight drizzle falling on and off, and very little wind. The air temperature was in the single digits, and the water was probably in the low teens. Fishing was slow and I didn’t manage so much as a bump on a water I know well.

The highlight of the hour’s fishing, I’m sad to say, was the chuckle I had when I got back to shore. After reeling in from my last cast of the day, at the far end of the dam, I started the long row back to my car. It was into a slight breeze and the going was tough. None the less I plugged on, turning every now and then in the hope that I was gaining speed. I wasn’t. Eventually I neared the bank and the boat came to a complete stop, just before beaching on the shore. Confused I stood up, only to discover I’d forgotten to lift the anchor and had dragged it the entire width of the dam. Fail! But humorous none the less.

After a quick shower Emma and I headed to the Old Hatchery to meet up with a friend for a beer and to watch the Shark’s game. We were dissapointed to discover that the Old Hatchery had been robbed and that there was no longer a TV. Emma was quick to point out what a bad weekend we were having – “This is the worst weekend ever dad. There’s no snow, no fish, and now no rugby.” Thanks for the pep talk my girl.

Not to be outdone Rob and I enjoyed a few ice cold beers while talking fishing. Emma meanwhile cruised around the pub, eating an ice cream, and entertaining guests with some story or another.

Back at Meadow Lane the fire was roaring and dinner was ready. After a good meal we got down to the evening’s most important activities – making s’mors. Soon we gathered around the fire roasting marshmallows to perfection (and occasionally catching them on fire), and then sandwiching them between Marie biscuits with a good helping of melted chocolate. Yum! For Emma the fun seemed to be in the making of the s’mors, as very few were actually eaten despite their deliciousness.

Sunday was a more relaxed day. We played with the horses, packed up for the trip home, and then discovered the zip line. The next hour was spent playing with our holiday neighbours, zipping across the small dam. Emma wasn’t old enough to do it by herself, so she hung around my neck, giving me the excuse to play on the zip-line as well.

After the zip-line we left Meadow Lane and headed home. We did try our luck on Sani Pass again, still hoping for some snow fun, but conditions had worsened and we were greeted with the now familiar sight of cars slipping off the road. And that was the end for us. we called it a day, turned around, and headed home from what was a great weekend.