Monday, September 25, 2023

Eye on Life

Broad interest online magazine


The little things

Today we hiked from Olifantsbos in Cape Point Nature Reserve, our intended destination the lovely Sirkelsvlei in the middle of the plateau. A strong southeaster made the going tough, and a missed turning took us on a meander through territory probably only charted by the local herd of bontebok. However, the fynbos on this windswept terrain barely reaches the knees, and the animal tracks made it easy to walk through, with only the wind putting a slight damper on what was otherwise an invigorating walk along the best trail in the reserve from the aspect of ease of access, panoramic views and seasonal flowers and shrubs that provide a new experience every time we go there.

We decided not to go all the way to Sirkelsvlei but to rather have the wind on our backs and headed towards the ridge running along the Atlantic seaboard, and a fairly sheltered outcrop allowed us to sip our coffee perched on rocks in the warm sunshine. In the far distance, a pale blue outline of Table Mountain gave us our bearings, and we could follow all the familiar peaks as they snaked towards us along the Cape Peninsula – Constantiaberg, Chapman’s, Red Hill, Klaasjagers. Setting off for the last lap, the wind seemed to strengthen and if we had held our jackets open, I am sure we would have resembled a fleet of ships in full sail – a reminder of the early explorers who visited the Cape of Storms in tiny ships, some to founder on the many treacherous reefs and some to return home with tales of foreign lands where wild animals roamed.

Along the way, our path was dotted with tiny fynbos plants, clinging tenuously to life in what seems like barren sand, yet is obviously providing them with exactly what they need to survive. The flowers in the photos are seldom larger than 1cm across, and the plants growing in barely visible cracks in huge boulders hide from us their miraculous root system, so fine that they are the thinnest roots of any plant community in the world. There are some fynbos species that unbelievably, in 1 gram of root, will stretch the length of 15 football fields. And that is how they do it. Defying all odds to bring us a splash of brilliant colour as we wend our way along the weathered sandstone and quartz pathways. They even grow in the middle of the path, with the additional hazard of a careless boot squashing them, but if their root system is anything to go by, the above ground system must be pretty resilient!

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