Saturday, June 15, 2024

Eye on Life

Broad interest online magazine

Trails

The Lookout, Silvermine

A welcome break in the weather between two severe systems enabled the Flying Tortoises to take to the hills again, the muddy conditions of the Constantia greenbelt being unappealing. The reward for the strenuous toil up the jeep track is a sweeping view across the bay to Hout Bay harbour, the Sentinel and the white sandy beach where the tannin-hued Disa River splits it in two.

Although the snow on the distant mountains added a nip to the air, the sun smiled down on us from a blue June sky as we set off from the dam. It soon became apparent that the recent heavy rains had taken the path of least resistance on the way to form the Silvermine River, and streams were trickling down the footpaths. Stout leather hiking boots saved the day and I was grateful for the decision to wear them rather than lighter sneakers. The dogs accompanying us revelled in the plentiful deep puddles and obviously just love water for water’s sake rather than a coolant.

It’s been many months since I did a serious hike and this one took it’s toll. I must have paused to admire the view more times than on all the hikes I have enjoyed over the past 6 years! Thank you, kind sir, for being back marker and waiting so patiently.

Once we left the jeep track to take the path to the lookout, we walked nearly a kilometre through lush vegetation along a neatly paved trail, where some strategically placed gabions were evidence of serious anti-erosion measures taken many years back. The terrain lends itself to becoming a new watercourse which would culminate in a waterfall where the lookout drops over a sheer cliff. It looks as though the prevention measures are working.

As always, our recollection of the trail was that it was much shorter, but the only thing that was short was our memories! At last the peak of the Sentinel peeped above the skyline, and soon we were perched on rocks overlooking the bay, sipping on coffee and admiring a very tame Cape Rock Thrush that hopped among us without a care. Far below, dinky cars wound slowly round the contours of Chapman’s Peak Drive, and pleasure craft carried tourists across the water to look st the seals basking on the rocks at the foot of the Sentinel. We were on top of the world and happy to be there!

We took the same path back rather than the longer circular route, as the cold wind at the lookout had whetted appetites and lunch was on the minds. Care had to be taken to avoid slipping on the loose rocks on the steep downhill, and some serious maintenance of the jeep track will be needed after what is expected to be a wetter than average winter. It still remains one of my favourite walks, with unparalleled views and stunning fynbos and birdlife year round.

(Photo of Cape Rock Thrush by Ernest Mitchell)

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