Another helluva hot hike

For weeks we have complained about the wind in Cape Town (normal for this time of year) and now that it has all but disappeared, we are longing for its return. The heatwave of the last few days has been quite debilitating given that this is the time of year when most of us are on the road doing Christmas grocery and present shopping, as if a few days of closed shops will make any difference in our lives. The only advantage of being on the road is if you have an airconditioned car, there is no better place to be.

Hiking in the heat is really for mad dogs and Englishmen, and as the majority of the group hails from that soggy island, we hike in the heat. Although the Alphen trail winds through many leafy glades, the odd foray into the open spaces was blistering, and for the first time ever, we re-routed ourselves to avoid the climb up to Cecilia forest and the accompanying track along Rhodes Drive, and went back the way we came. This was unfortunately all uphill, and our coffee break on the banks of the still strongly running stream was so appreciated. It was enhanced by the visit of a magical white horse (albeit not a unicorn), brought to drink at the small pool after being led along the forest paths by his groom. A rather enchanting interlude, with a throaty croak of a fine bullfrog adding to the fairy tale scene. I almost expected a princess to appear to kiss the frog and ride off into the sunset with her prince on the white horse.

Even the birds were scarce, enjoying a little rest in the leafy branches overhead, where the odd call could be heard. Runners, cyclists and dog walkers were fewer than usual, and who could blame them? I trailed along at the end of the group, who kindly stopped many times to allow me to rest – one boulder resembled a headstone with a completely smooth surface, and I rested comfortably against it until it dawned on me that everyone was waiting to continue the hike and scrambled to my feet. The heat was really getting to me!

It seemed as though the ascent would never end as we crossed road after road towards the top of Southern Cross Drive and after 13 500 steps and just over 7kms, I fell thankfully into my airconditioned car and joined the happy hikers for refreshment in a leafy courtyard just down the road. A lovely morning despite a little discomfort.

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