Trudging through Tokai

Again the strong winds battering the southern Peninsula meant a change in plan for our walk at Olifantsbos, and the completely flat trail through Tokai forest meant we would be sheltered from the worst. However, as frequently happens when severe weather is forecast, the worst was set for inland, and the wind died down completely and was replaced by high humidity under a lowering sky painted in shades of purple and grey. This was ahead of the thunderstorms forecast for the afternoon, and as the clouds shifted to reveal patches of blue only to be replaced by iron grey a short while later, we began to question the validity of the entire forecast. Would the uncomfortable heat be relieved by rain? Would I have to water the garden to encourage a deluge?

The shade of the pine trees was most welcome, and decades of decomposing pine needles deadened all sound as we strode between the lines of trees stretching in endless diagonals around us. No wind soughed through the branches, but evidence of the previous day’s gale lay splintered on the forest floor – dry twigs and branches in circles around the trunks and even an entire tree snapped in half like a toothpick. Overhead, the black sparrowhawk called from its nest, almost ready to venture into the wider world with its siblings nowhere in sight. Dogs barked frantically at squirrels scuttling overhead, secure in their agility high above the earth-bound attack.

This walk is longer than you would think, especially if you park at the stone church a little closer to Constantia Uitsig rather than at the edge of the forest, and a distance of almost 6km was covered in just under three hours, with a restful coffee break under the spreading boughs of a huge old tree just across the river in the company of good friends. A shortcut through the fynbos kept us away from the busy road and allowed us the feeling of an escape from the suburbs that is so easily achieved in many of the Cape’s green belts. The darkening skies to the north promised rain later and relief from the warmth of the day. True to form, a sudden drop in temperature in the late afternoon necessitated the donning of a jersey and the spectacular lightning storm later outdid any fireworks display!

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