Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Eye on Life

Broad interest online magazine


Reaching the heights

There are some trails on the Peninsula that have become almost completely overgrown over the last two years, one being the probably little-used track from the top road of Da Gama Park to the old British forts built on huge boulders overlooking False Bay, and the other the really scenic Rooikrantz trail from the top of Glencairn Expressway to the summit overlooking the Noordhoek end of the valley. The latter was yesterday’s route, and a refreshing northerly breeze assured us of a comfortable walk along a path totally devoid of shade. The vegetation up on the plateau is typical fynbos, low growing and dense, but the proteas and leucadendrons have thrived to such an extent after the fires of a few years back that they are now encroaching on the sandy track which shows little sign of frequent use these days. It is a great shame that concern for personal safety has become an issue on our beautiful Peninsula particularly when a little too close to residential areas, but there is safety in numbers and we should not be discouraged, but cautious.

It must be a dream outride for anyone on a horse, where you can travel in some comfort (depending on the quality of the saddle!) while viewing the fields of fynbos from above – rather like the advantage a 4×4 has when game viewing! There was evidence of horses having passed that way a considerable time ago, although I am no expert on decomposition rate of horse poop. What a perfect place for a horse trail where locals and tourists alike can experience the natural beauty of the Peninsula – I can but dream.

The track forks in many places as it criss-crosses the mountains, some being used by mountain bikes, but we turned off to head in the direction of the Rooikrantz ridge, so named because of the red sandstone cliffs that form it. The vegetation changes with altitude, and I try to take note of each new level as we climb, sometimes pausing to rest and admire a special flower or the spectacular views across the bay to the far mountains – there is no lack of opportunity to feed the senses and the soul on such a hike. The wind blowing through our hair was untainted by pollution – a crisp sea breeze directly from the cold Atlantic, bringing with it a swirling low cloud attempting to cling to the mountain top but dissipating in the hot sun. The distant mountains – Silvermine, Noordhoek Peak, Constantiaberg, Newlands buttress, Devil’s Peak – stood in serried rows, crisp in the bright sunlight – to be climbed another day.

A well-earned rest after the relentless uphill gave us a chance to lean against the sun-warmed sandstone, weathered by eons of salt-laden winds cracking and shattering the boulders into fanciful shapes that form eyes on the world, or natural rock pools for the animals that continue to live in the wild, yet so close to human habitation. We saw none today, but I am sure they lurked unseen in the crags and thickets, waiting to reclaim their territory from our intrusive presence. They pose no danger, except perhaps for the puffadder which doesn’t care to move from a sunny spot, and a wary eye must always be kept on the path ahead! Nature should be approached with caution and respect – it is the only way for us all to live harmoniously in the shrinking habitat – and I like to think that our forays into the hills leave nothing but footprints.

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