To celebrate the end of 2020 and with hopes of a better year to come, our Friday hiking group took to the sheltered trail along the Silvermine River, starting at the dam and meandering a little way past the small waterfall to the place where the boardwalk makes a perfect bench for sitting in a straight stripe. Okay, perhaps not quite straight, but a stripe. Elsewhere on the Peninsula, the southeaster was pumping as only it can, making sure that the air is cleaned up and as many bugs are blown away as possible for the festive season, such as it may be.
A short amble meant we didn’t need hiking boots or jackets, just hats and a light backpack with water, nuts and a phone/camera to capture the moments. Without the need to cover a 5km stretch in 3 hours, we were able to reflect on the past year and appreciate the fact that we have this group with its intrepid leaders, Brian and Norman, both in their 80s and a marvellous example of how not to grow old. Without their enthusiasm and leadership in dragging us up sometimes big mountains and often very gentle forest trails, I doubt that many of us would take the trouble to get out there and soak up the splendours of our natural world, come rain (a little) and shine. With so many easily accessible places to explore, masses of fynbos to familiarise ourselves with and birdlife in abundance, we would be poorer in spirit and health without these organised hikes.
One of our group is currently in a serious but stable condition in hospital and a prayer was offered for health and strength, heartfelt and genuine despite many different stances in the group, and it was testimony to the friendship and companionship that we all share that the moment was accepted and respected.
The picnic area at the head of the trail is one of those secret places that always surprises one – slightly off the path but not hidden, sheltered from the wind by tall trees inhabited by twittering birds and warmed by dappled sunshine. Low walls make ideal seating and built-in tables provide enough flat surface for a feast. We have always had the area to ourselves on hikes, and today was no exception, giving the impression that we were far from the crowds – judging by the car park, the dam picnic sites must have been full – which is what we seek when heading off to the mountains. And so a very pleasant hour or so was spent in idle chatter under the trees, close to a babbling brook – a fitting end to a very trying year for all.