It was a bad day to be on top of the mountain at Glencairn. Not for criminal activity, I hasten to add, but in terms of wind velocity. The unseasonal gale force southeaster persists – an annoying wind that brings out the worst in people’s tolerance levels as it whips sand across bare legs and deposits grit in tangled hair and eyes, even mouths should they not be sensibly kept shut. I would say the gusts up there easily reached 60km/h, causing us to lean into the wind and stagger off the narrow path like late-night partygoers just to keep our balance. The dogs were not happy, being almost at ground level and even more exposed to the sandblasting.
The good part was that the wind was at our backs on the uphill and that gave some small encouragement to those that struggled through the deep, soft sand of the trail. I think we must have walked here before when the soil was firmer underfoot, as it was on a level of difficulty similar to the area above the high tide mark at the beach. Maybe it was the relentless wind that made it seem worse, or maybe the horses that follow the trail have obliterated the thin layer of grasses that formed a matted surface. The occasional sighting of a patch of beautiful pink ericas, or the protea cynaroides laden with soft ice-pink buds promising a stunning display of our national flower in a short while certainly made it worth the effort.
We gave up on the last stretch to the top of the ridge and made our way down into the shelter of a hillock where we relaxed among the fynbos, perching on the monkey rocks that characterise the outcrops on the Peninsula and sipping on coffee while we discussed global events and appreciated our good fortune in having these beautiful wide open spaces at our disposal with only a sensible degree of caution required to avoid possible incidents. There seems to be no place in the world where absolute freedom exists anymore, just varying degrees.
We overcame our brief spell of glumness with relative ease as we made our way back along the trail, this time into a headwind which had intensified. The buffeting it gave us soon lightened the mood as we laughed and complained that our biggest worry at that moment was keeping a hat on and our balance. Thank goodness for the healing and restorative aspects of a walk on the wild side!