Back in my stride

One of the best trails to hike after a few weeks’ inactivity has to be the jeep track from Constantia Nek to Kirstenbosch. Starting with quite a steep incline, we passed cars parked at the side of the last stretch of tar that services the handful of residences that cling to the precarious slopes at the foot of Eagle’s Nest, and wondered why we didn’t also drive up and nip in under the trees. However, the purpose of our hikes is exercise and a little huffing and puffing at the beginning is soon eased as the track levels for a while before it undulates gently along the contours of this much-loved part of the forest. Mild temperatures are best for this hike, as many of the plantation trees have now been removed, exposing the track to blazing sunshine and occasional chilly patches of shade where behemoths still wrap roots stubbornly round boulders, defying nature’s elements while the earth steadily erodes each winter. Some trees must surely fall before too long, even if still attached to the boulders.

With the last rains of winter, the mountain streams continue to rush down the gullies, with Nursery Ravine providing soothing music as we rested on the cold, moss-covered rocks strewn across the rivulet. A scramble up between the slender trunks of Cape Beech will take you to the cliff-face where the special Disa Uniflora flowers in January/February, but today we could just relax and enjoy the bubbling of the small cascades while we drank coffee and gazed out at the expansive views.

A slight retracing of our steps took us onto the lower contour path leading steeply down into Kirstenbosch, where the brick-paved walkways made for a fractionally easier descent and allowed us to marvel at the proteas and pincushions in full bloom at this time of year. A whole different set of leg muscles came into play for the downward trail, and with a few good climbs in the ravine, it is safe to say that we really got good exercise in parts, tempered by level bits that allowed us to enjoy another magnificent morning in the mountains, just a stone’s throw away from suburbia.

This trail is highly recommended for the moderately fit and steady. It is busy, with lots of dogs and runners, which is no bad thing as we are forced to shun isolated areas. The views are spectacular, and the soul is restored.

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