It’s been two years since we last made our way across the ridge from the visitor’s centre in Cape Point Nature Reserve to Kanonkop. This moderate hike covers around 7km depending on whether you take the same path back or go down to the Bordjiesrif road and toil laboriously up the tar road back to the car park. The passing of time tends to add a rosy tinge to our memories and we forget the parts where the sand is soft as a beach and the calf muscles start to twinge, and the continual ascent albeit gradual that keeps the heart rate up and necessitates frequent stops to admire the magnificent views down the coast to Cape Point and its two lighthouses. As Kanonkop looms into view, overshadowed by the impressive peak of Paulsberg with its sheer drop from peak to ocean, it suddenly seems impossibly far away and you cannot imagine how you will ever reach it.
And indeed the path is rocky and steep and you should have remembered it from the last time when you did it on a hot day with a gentle breeze. Be thankful now for the strong north wind that flaps the brim of your hat over your eyes and billows the windcheater you are finding too warm from the effort of putting one booted foot in front of the other. Be grateful for the overcast sky sheltering you from the burning sun, lessening the glare from the white sandy path, even though a patch of blue sky is approaching that might spoil the party.
Look ahead at the frontrunners, fit and forging ahead untroubled by aching muscles or creaking joints. Look behind at the laggers, doggedly on track to reach that cannon standing sentry over the bay. One foot in front of the other. Another bend in the track, a few boulders to scramble over, some more soft sand. Everywhere the beauty of spring distracts from the task – gladiolus, everlastings, nemesias, china flowers, bright vygies and golden swathes of restios bending before the wind. Small birds twitter in the pincushions, wisely taking shelter to prevent a ruffling of iridescent feathers. Tortoises trundle across the path, faster on their stubby little legs than we imagine, scurrying to escape from hands that reach into the branches to reverse their progress and place them in a perfect pose. Doesn’t everyone love a tortoise?!
At last, Kanonkop! Lean back against a rock to recover, have a hot drink and savoury snack to restore the equilibrium, and before you know it, back on the trail – this time all downhill, yet still into the wind, stronger than ever. A tiring yet exhilarating morning on the mountain, to be repeated. Never a hardship to traverse Cape Point Nature Reserve!