Monday, September 25, 2023

Eye on Life

Broad interest online magazine


A cool climb

What a delight to be back on the mountain! After taking it easy for nearly a year after a hamstring injury and the unbearable heat of the last two months, I have ventured back into hiking – without the support of the hiking group, I know I would never have the self-discipline to attempt even the easiest walks – and today was a challenge. Steenberg Peak looms large in the middle of the Silvermine Nature Reserve and the only way up is UP! An approach from the car park through shoulder high thickets of proteas and leucadendrons takes you along a gentle path to the foot of the climb, and then it is one foot after the other, admittedly up an extremely well-made path of steps that wind up about 300m elevation. With the odd water break and pause to admire the magnificent views, we reached the peak after a steady 1.5 hours but were by then in the fine cloud that coats these mountains when a brisk southeaster blows and so had no opportunity to gaze out into the hinterland across the greater Cape Town metropolis. Sitting on fantastically weathered rocks among abundant fynbos which included numerous blue disas (what a spectacular treat!) and cooled by wisps of mist and intermittent views of far distant beaches, we agreed there could be no better place to be right then. The silence was supreme.

We took a circular route down, along the soft quartzite path made with such loving care so many years ago; flat stone slabs laid in appropriate places to minimise erosion, or channel the stream that becomes the Silvermine River. It must have been a labour of love for those who cherished these mountains and the time they could spend away from it all, communing with nature. The endemic erica urna-viridis, which grows only on these slopes and a small area at Cape Point, is prolific and flourishing, while four or five other species of erica from dusky pink to fiery red covered the ground like heather on the Yorkshire moors. Every species of fynbos has its favourite place, and the top of the mountain was populated by serruria, while lower slopes were favoured by soft, red-leaved leucadendrons waving like wheatfields in the breeze.

Once we were back on the jeep track for the long walk down to the waterfall and then what seems like an interminable uphill back to the carpark, it became a hike again, rather than a commune with nature, and it was possible to engage in some companionable chit-chat as we didn’t have to watch our feet. This helped take our minds off the long uphill and before we knew it, 7km were behind us and beer and lunch ahead!

One thought on “A cool climb

  • Brilliant Pamela, we have certainly missed these very informative blogs.


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