As some members of our hiking group return to the hills after lockdown or knee replacements, levels of fitness or capability vary, and so today saw a crocodile (or is that crock-o-dile?) with the head, body and tail in three distinct sections winding its way towards the Elephant’s Eye cave from the Silvermine Dam carpark. The slower ones were supposed to take the jeep track, but somehow all were dragged along with the momentum and found themselves trickling up and along the Crag ridge. The leaders set a cracking pace, but I was captivated by the wonderful fynbos and stopped so often to take photos that soon I was part of the body of the croc, along with the medium-slow section. The tail-enders trailed behind as all good tails do, but nobody fretted about catching up as we all had the same destination and Silvermine is pretty secure.
With a few short forays along the wrong forks, we soon learned to look for forerunners footprints, and Baden-Powell would have been proud of what were obviously old Boy Scouts who returned us to the straight and narrow. A fresh breeze blew over the ridge from the southwest, bringing a light shower or two, but nothing some light rain gear couldn’t handle. The coolness was welcome as always. And still I found so much beauty around me, stopping for photos many times – eventually I was right at the back of the body, while the tail had split (some taking the easy jeep track down) and the rearguard nowhere in sight.
On reaching the lookout, the cold wind and the prospect of the zigzag path still to be climbed, while we could see the nose of the croc already at the cave, was not enticing. Very little persuasion was required to lean against a sheltering wall, pour a cup of coffee and admire the awesome views of the Constantia valley wine estates spread out below. Something to munch on is always a highlight of our hikes, but we missed our usual handout of jelly babies due to not keeping up with the croc. You win some, you lose some!
This is another favourite hike, of which there are so many in the Silvermine Nature Reserve, with varied levels of difficulty. Something for everyone and always spectacular views. What a privilege to have this on our doorsteps. The return trip was also a disjointed crocodile, with some having places to go and people to see, some enjoying a medium pace along the jeep track and some who I presume eventually made it back to the cars! All in all, a marvellous mountain morning.