It’s always interesting to see changes along the trails we repeat – mostly caused by fires and floods, seldom by maintenance and repair – and it is nowhere more noticeable than on the track that traverses the plateau from Da Gama Park over to the old stone fortifications built on rocky outcrops overlooking Simon’s Town. It is a mystery why such a small fortification was considered necessary when it blighted the landscape and the sentries could as easily have perched on the rocks, but such is the way of Man. Back to the trail…
When I first hiked this trail back in 2017, a wildfire had burned everything to the ground, leaving only blackened skeletons of old proteas and the white quartz sand exposed as far as the eye could see. Wonderful for easy walking and no ticks, but always a sad sight, until you remember that this is what the fynbos needs (at sufficient intervals) to rejuvenate itself. Every six months or so we would take to these hills again and observe the new growth sprouting on either side of the path, at that stage a wide jeep track. The fynbos grew steadily, more and more thickly, and eventually the track reduced to a single path.
It seems that few people pass this way, and yesterday we found ourselves pushing tall branches and thriving restios away from our faces as we almost had to forge a path through the now overgrown trail. Woody plants that encroached in the way scratched at our legs and prickly plants prevailed. The proteas and leucadendrons are growing en masse, and my particular favourite, the thistle sugarbush, is abundant. The delicate gladioli and babianas that can be seen in spring are now well hidden in the undergrowth and will probably not be visible next year, even though they are also fully recovered from the fire.
Our coffee spot is now inaccessible and we can no longer perch on the fantastically shaped rocks like dassies in the sun – perhaps it is better for nature to reclaim her own and leave us to find a patch of sand to sit on, where few plants or beetles will be trampled underfoot by the unobservant and our footprints will soon be covered. Below are some photos for comparison – a very lovely area of the Peninsula that should see more hikers enjoying its beauty.