It is almost a month later, and the only trace that could be found of missing Centurion hiker Mark Grobler (25) is a note in which he “booked” a cave to spend the night in, Centurion Rekord reports.
The plan was for Grobler to use the cave while finishing up his hike in the Drakensberg mountains in KwaZulu-Natal.
READ MORE: Still no trace of Centurion hiker
The so-called “Twins Cave” is often used by hikers in the area to seek shelter from poor weather conditions such as rain and snow. It can easily accommodate up to 12 people, and can be booked by hikers in advance.
Grobler left a note in the caves, saying he would return to them and spend the night there on his way back.
The note was discovered at the cave by other hikers before Grobler’s disappearance, according to rescue coordinator Gavin Raubenheimer.
Raubenheimer said Grobler’s note stated that he would be doing the so-called “Bell Traverse” contours below Cathedral Peak before returning to the cave.
At the time the note was found, there was no indication yet that Grobler might be missing.
“Other hikers found the note during the daytime, before an emergency search was called.”
He said the hikers called in only after they read media reports about Grobler being missing.
Raubenheimer said Grobler is the fourth person to disappear in the area in about 30 years.
“The search will never get called off and people who hike in the area are asked to keep their eyes and ears open for any possible leads.”
Although the search for Grobler has been scaled down, local rangers would run patrols more often, he said.
Grobler left his Centurion family home on the day after Christmas for a four-day solo hike in the Drakensberg mountains.
He was an enthusiastic and experienced hiker who had done the route before.
In the resultant search after he was declared missing, a SAPS helicopter crashed on New Year’s Day while deploying searchers into the field.
Luckily, the occupants – including one of the K9 search dogs – sustained only minor injuries.
“Mark was passionate about the Drakensberg and enjoyed hiking there,” Grobler’s parents, Ben and Jean Grobler, said in a statement. “As a family we are heartbroken. We have beautiful memories. We would like to thank all the rescuers involved in the search. They put in an enormous effort.”