A scribbled note left in a cave was the only clue hiker Mark Grobler, left before he disappeared in the Drakensberg Mountains.
That note, according to the Mountain Club of South Africa rescue co-ordinator for the KwaZulu-Natal, Gavin Raubenheimer, was left in the Twins Cave and it simply said Grober planned to return to the cave that night.
“He said that he would be doing the Bell Traverse,” said Raubenheimer.
“He had basically written the note so as to book the cave for that night.”
Grobler, 25, from Centurion, was declared missing when he failed to return to his car.
On December 26, he had filled out the details of his hike in the mountain register.
He stated that he planned a three-night hike and that he would be making his way up the Mlambonja pass to the Twins Cave.
The day before, Grobler had celebrated Christmas with his family.
“We had heard that he had done this hike before,” said Raubenheimer.
It was believed that Grobler had a good map and food for five days. The hike up the Mlambonja pass is described as being moderate and is about 11km long.
After the alert went out that the junior geologist was missing, the Mountain Club and the SAPS mobilised teams.
Dogs were also used but none of them picked up his scent.
It was the discovery of the note that focused the search on a particular trail.
The Bell Traverse is a well-trodden path known for its awe-inspiring views. It is not known for its difficulty but there are drops-offs along the side of the path.
Searchers questioned hikers in the area but no one said they had seen Grobler. By last Sunday, both the SAPS and the Mountain Club had scaled back their searchers. The belief is that Grobler is most probably dead.
Grobler’s family has also issued a statement:
“Mark was an engineering geologist on the brink of a promising career. He was passionate about the Drakensberg and enjoyed hiking there. As a family we are heartbroken.”
The search, however, would continue, explained Raubenheimer, as a missing persons case was never closed. “Photos will be put up in the area,” he said.
If Grobler is not found, he will join a few other hikers who simply disappeared in the Drakensberg.
Raubenheimer said he knew of at least three other hikers who had never been found.
“I guess it is a kind of mystery and it is always nice when you do find somebody,” Raubenheimer said.