A favourite hike is the jeep track from the Silvermine dam car park up to the lookout point at the top of Blackburn Ravine, where you can look down on the activities in Hout Bay. While not having the expansive views of Noordhoek Peak, a little less effort is required to get there for much the same enjoyment. The recent heavy rains have taken a toll on the lower section of the trail, and the washaways are so severe that it seems unlikely that repairs will be done soon. Gravel does not appear to be a hardy surface in the face of rushing torrents and only the carefully laid stonework paths lovingly fashioned many years ago have withstood the floodwaters. However, nowhere is impassable and it certainly was a conversation piece. The recorded hurricane force gusts in the South Peninsula are always mentioned with a laugh, as Cape Town is notorious for its Cape Doctor that regularly blows tall trucks over and uproots trees, although to be fair there is a great difference between a gust and a sustained gale.
As a keen photographer and subscriber to Murphy’s Law,, I lugged my Nikon P900 with me, knowing that it was unlikely that a bird would appear on a far-off bush waiting for me to photograph it. That only happens when I leave the camera at home, and so it was today. A few chirps from the variety of sunbirds found in the Silvermine Nature Reserve, but all out of sight. There were surprisingly few flowers, the early Spring blooms having faded and the mimetes and pincushions not yet ready to attract the nectar lovers. Only a single Painted Lady (gladiolus debilis) was seen along the entire 5.5km trail.
Once the jeep track was left behind, we walked about a kilometre along the stone path on a slight downward trend towards the lookout, and sturdy hiking boots were the answer to the new watercourse that completely covered the path in many places. As we descended to the place once called the Bench, now only six short wooden stumps after a fire many years ago (maintenance is slow or non-existent), we could see how the water had gathered momentum and completely scoured the sand from the rocks, leaving just a gaping gully leading towards the edge of the cliff. Similar waterfalls had led to mudslides further down the slopes above Chapmans Peak Drive through sheer weight, and far below we could see the bulldozers and earth0ving equipment clearing one of the sections that have caused this popular drive to be temporarily closed.
We started the hike in warmish berg wind conditions, but as we started our descent, a cold wind blew in from the north, a harbinger of a new cold front coming in for the weekend. It’s been a wet weekend winter. Despite no birds, no flowers and no path, it was the most delightful morning in the mountains, to be repeated many times at different seasons!