Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Eye on Life

Broad interest online magazine


A forest amble

Our walks of late have been tinged with sadness, as we tick off each one as being the last time our intrepid leader, Brian, and his wife, Jenny, will be accompanying us to those places. They are relocating to KZN, retiring from retirement, to a new adventure which we all hope will bring them much joy, but at the same time are selfishly wishing they would stay. They have led us on hikes we would never have contemplated on our own, enabled us to meet new friends, reconnect with old ones, say goodbye to others as they were no longer able to do the steeper climbs, and brought so much pleasure into our lives with their dedication to the great outdoors. It has helped that these two octogenarians have enjoyed the rudest of health and put a 66-year-old to shame, and Brian exists almost entirely on a diet of Quality Street and tea (not too much of an exaggeration here). His sense of humour has carried us through many a wander along unfamiliar trails and mishaps that could have been serious but fortunately never. We are already considering a bus tour to KZN to enable him to find out more about the lesser hikes of the Drakensberg!

Today he took us on one of his favourites, the Tokai forest trail from the old Stone Church at Uitsig, along Orpen Road and onto the boardwalk that leads down to the excellent little coffee shop enterprisingly established in the wall. On the way, we stopped to admire a raptor or two, gaze up at the blue, blue sky with not a cloud in sight, but mainly we faithfully followed behind, always the leader in front (the rules) and wondered how we will do without him. Of course, life will continue, and the hikes will continue with some fine fellow hikers stepping into Brian’s hiking boots. You may sense that I do not take to change easily, and yet some of the group have been hiking with Brian and Jenny for 17 years and they will feel their absence more – they have socialised together on other U3A activities and share many interests.

Back to the trail – the pond has long dried up, but the tree was filled with birds this morning: a fork-tailed drongo, a male pin-tailed whydah showing off his fine tail, a juvenile dusky flycatcher thrashing a hapless worm against a twig, swee waxbills flitting in the reeds. So much activity on such a hot day.

Then the long walk through the forest, soft pine needles underfoot, dogs, horses, runners, cyclists – the public enjoying the open spaces. Over the dried up stream, along the wide path to the weir we wobbled over the stepping stones – some choosing to stay in the shade of a large tree rather than risk the spectacle of a tumble into the mud – and up onto this strange hillock with an old pine tree. I call it Lone Tree Hill, but it may have been renamed Brian’s Tree today. We discussed the origin of this hill, but no conclusion was reached – it may or may not be man-made (from diggings along the M3 when first constructed) or it may just be a sore thumb sticking out of the landscape. Perhaps we will find out one day.

A cool breeze blew in from False Bay, refreshing us for the long walk back, mostly through the forest, but cutting across the recently burned are where the vegetation was eradicated for safety reasons. An exciting find was a chameleon on the forest floor – how it survived the boots of some 25 hikers is a miracle. Although photographed on a tree, it was replaced on the ground to inch its way to wherever! We climbed the stairs to the lookout and admired all we surveyed, then trudged across the track back to Orpen Road, feeling the heat as midday approached. The morning ended in splendid style with a lunch at the cricket club and as always, a tear or two. Onward we go!

2 thoughts on “A forest amble

  • Brian Moore

    Many thanks for this Pamela, Another of your blogs that I will always treasure. I will be able to have it as a keepsake that will remind me of the fabulous people we have met during our time in the Western Cape. Thanks so much. Brian.x


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