When I first started hiking 4 years ago, Cape Town was in the grip of a disastrous drought and the streams that release water from our ‘sponge’, the Table Mountain chain, had all but dried up. Waterfalls were drips and after the first rains became trickles. The little dam in the Constantia greenbelt (the first dam ever built in the Cape) was a dusty bowl that slowly became a puddle. Four years on and our familiar trails have become watercourses, deeply eroded and rocky, with bare roots exposed by flash flooding. The use of hiking trails by recreational cyclists has not helped, as once level paths have become rutted with steep sides and hikers now have to waddle from side to side along these canals as they try to keep steady on sometimes older feet.
Parts of the Klaassenbosch trail have become so muddy we had to tread carefully through the undergrowth, squelching in the mud and wishing we had put on our wellingtons rather than the light walking shoes we normally wear for this hike. Another hazard in wet conditions is the presence of ‘landmines’ that blend in beautifully with the forest floor with its covering of dull grey and brown leaves. This is indeed where angels fear to tread!
The upside of the mud is the marvellous tinkling of the now gushing rivers that are wending their way seawards, with fallen logs and boulders making picturesque weirs lit by the sunlight filtering unhindered through the branches of winter’s bare trees. The water music soothes our souls as we forget the mud and the bikes and the landmines and revel in the great outdoors. Jackal buzzards call over head and we watch them soaring effortlessly higher and higher on the thermals against an impossibly blue sky. Bright yellow moraea and electric pink oxalis dot the sidewalks as winter draws to a close and the sword-like leaves of the aristea and watsonias have grown to waist height in readiness for a spectacular spring display.
We pass a lone baboon running along Rhodes Drive, heading into the lush suburbs where he knows he will find an easy food source. A baboon monitor stands at the roadside, watching. No doubt the rest of the troop awaits the alpha’s call higher up in the forest. The cork oak avenue is an idyllic place, despite the rumble of traffic close by, and dusky flycatchers can be seen watching from the lower boughs. Today an olive woodpecker was searching for grubs in the cork oak bark – definitely a soft option!
A good 6km hike through leafy suburbs and lush forest, on a windless winter’s day – perfection.