Winter walks are the best! We can always keep warm with multiple layers of wind- and waterproof jackets, masks are a blessing for cold noses, and the air is crisp and clear! It was a chilly 8 degrees in the shadow of Elsie’s Peak this morning, with a promise of sunshine up on the ridge, and a small but enthusiastic, well-distanced group set off up the good path for a good bit of exercise in the healthy fresh air. The best place to be right now.
Morning dew glittered on every leaf and spiderweb, looking quite frosty in places, and the week’s rains had made the sandy track compact and pleasant to walk on. This hike along the spine of the mountain between Fish Hoek and Glencairn is not very taxing, but hugely rewarding in terms of panoramas and abundant fynbos. Small areas of alien vegetation need to be eliminated soon, and a start appears to have been made by a small team of yellow-jacketed council staff who were chopping out rooikrans and lantana. Much needs to be done with regard to the actual removal of the debris, which lies in piles drying nicely to fuel the next wildfire, and indiscriminate clearing of pathways and culverts should be addressed with regard to fynbos and necessity. But at least a start has been made.
What a joy to be up there away from it all. The path is well-used and soft underfoot – no loose rocks in this part of the Peninsula which was once covered in sea sand before the alien vegetation arrived. Outcrops of weathered sandstone boulders provide the only shade on a hot summer’s day, but today were damp and chilly and we hurried past to the next patch of sun – the clouds from a brief change in the wind to southeast were building up overhead and encouraging us to keep up a steady pace. This was not easy in view of the many opportunities to stop and linger over an exquisite erica, or delightful dispera, not to mention swathes of sunshine conebushes. We covered the 5.5km in less than three hours with a stop at the beacon on the west end to take in the views and ponder our good fortune in being able to hike in such beauteous surroundings.
Cape sugarbirds, orange-breasted sunbirds and Cape robin-chats flitted from tree to tree in a joyous celebration of a break in the rain and an abundance of their favourite food – proteas and pincushions. A marvellous mountain morning.