Blown away

The Cape Doctor has arrived! A little later than usual, but making up for his absence with a vengeance as a week of near gales and occasional hectic gusts sets in. This is due to this being the Open Week for SA residents to enter our national parks for free, and our hiking group set off for Cape Point, of all places, in some trepidation. Cape Point is consistently the windiest spot in South Africa, only the intensity varying, and it was surprising to find that there was nothing out of the ordinary when we arrived in the parking area. On either side, we could see that the waves were whipped into fine spray, but our hats remained in place as we proceeded on our route along the boardwalk above Dias Beach. The sea far below was an astounding turquoise, crystal clear and almost enticing enough for a swim, but the ascent from this isolated beach is so daunting that it really is a once-in-a-lifetime effort and I will not do it twice. A couple were down on the sands, and their footprints had covered such a large area that I imagined they couldn’t bring themselves to start the climb and were pacing up and down rather like Einstein solving an equation.

Things went well until we reached the first lookout platform and found ourselves instantly in the teeth of the gale as it rounded Dias Point. It didn’t take much thought to go into reverse and retrace our steps back up the walkway to the shelter of the parking area! We had only covered just under 2km, way below our normal average of 5km, and felt embarrassed to call it a day, turning our attention to the ridge that marks the end of the now-defunct Hoerikwagga Trail (don’t ask). This easy-in-parts climb has expansive views across False Bay and over to Table Mountain and is a perfect place to rest on the rocks with coffee and a rusk and simply enjoy the silence of this marvellous place. The not-so-easy parts are rocky and require a bit of scrambling and so do not suit the unsteady, and a few turned back to seek a gentler stroll along the road overlooking the coastline between Cape of Good Hope and Platboom. In the sheltered spots, it became too warm for jackets and emphasised the necessity of having a variety of weather gear handy to cope with all the changes you can expect on a hike in Cape Town.

Not a bird nor an animal was seen as all sought the comfort of a sheltered shrub or rocky outcrop. We did too, but the odd buffeting by the wind merely served to blow the cobwebs away and refresh our senses to life in the world’s wild places.

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