How easily we forget the difficult ascent and descent when we return to the slopes of Table Mountain to wander along the contour path and breathe in her magnificence! The panorama that lies before us erases the memory of the steep zigzag path that takes you from the Devil’s Peak end of Tafelberg Road up to the contour path, and we are already amazed at how far below us the cars are parked. We remember that the contour path is a flat walk, but forget that it undulates around every wrinkle and gully, crossing crystal streams, slicing across vertiginous drops with no vegetation to break a fall. Was it so rocky the last time we passed this way? Oh look! You can see all the way up the West Coast to Langebaan! And on we plod, just a niggling sense that it wasn’t so hard last time as we embrace the sheer soul-restoring delights of our very special mountain.
The air is completely still, with a convenient cloud clinging to the mountain and shielding us from the harsh sunshine, and down in Table Bay we watch as a container ship is piloted into the dock, the glassy sea unusually undisturbed reflecting the clouds in its mirror-like surface. Table Mountain has a tremendous magnetic force and if ships were to drift unanchored in the bay, they would be drawn towards it. A fascinating bit of information that leads me to wonder whether we are similarly drawn to it time and again, due to the iron in our bodies!! Maybe it’s a spiritual home for Capetonians!
The lines of cars at the cableway are returning to pre-lockdown levels, and the red tour buses are taking to the road again in some small way, bringing back a sense of vibrancy to the city again, and almost everyone we passed on the trail was a visitor from overseas. With uncertainty world-wide over the Covid-19 crisis, there is no way of knowing what lies further along the line for our vital tourism, so in the meantime we will have to be the tourists in our own country; no hardship with so much to offer.
The descent at Kloof Corner is treacherous due to loose sand covering the stone steps and a brush would have been very handy – I have threatened for years to bring one with me to clean the path, but always forget! The only way to negotiate the steep and very high steps is sideways, and it takes us a good 45 minutes to get back down to the road. The weathering granite further down provides a surface similar to an ice rink at a 45-degree angle, and I count 5 stumbles and 4 good skids for my tally of the day. The conclusion is that it would have been easier to go up from Kloof Corner rather than down, but it may be quite a while before we tackle this trail again. Still a superb and much-loved outing.