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14 Jan 2011

Early risers beat the heat!

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January 12, 2011: Today Brian took me up Nursery Buttress which was a more adventurous way to ascend the mountain. We started early enough and went through Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, hiking up to the contour path and ascending up Nursery Buttress. It was fun because there was a bit of rock scrambling and the path wasn’t very clear so we were bush whacking some of the time. The heat was intense even though it was early in the morning but once we got to the top there was a gentle breeze blowing. We found two shady spots on the way up where we stopped to get out of the heat for a bit which was really nice. Once we got to the top, we went up to Cleft Peak and climbed around in the cracks up there. Wow, was it ever beautiful! Natural rock formations created by the wind and rain with yellowwood trees growing inside. On the southern side of the peak there were loads of ferns growing which was interesting and totally different to the other parts which were much more dry. We had lunch up top overlooking the empty Hely-Hutchison dam, with views of the back end of the 12 Apostles and Table Mountain. We came down through the shaded Skeleton Gorge route stopping again in the ravine to cool off in the water which is still running a bit. We saw many people on our way down who were just walking up at 1 in the afternoon!  It’s way to hot to ascend during these  hours. We made sure they all had enough water and bid them well. Maybe next time they will consider a guided hike where they don’t get themselves into these kind of predicaments. All in all we had a great day up on the mountain. It’s always good to expand your horizons.

03 Jan 2011

Wolfberg Cracks

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Jan 1, 2011- To ring in the new year we took a trip to the Cederberg, a magnificent mountain range about 2+ hours from Cape Town. We started about 7am on the 1st and headed to find a swimming hole we found on our map. After finding the little path alongside the road we followed a dry riverbed for about 500 meters until we came upon the most secluded spot. Not another soul was around for miles and miles. We took some time to swim, relax, and take in the beauty around us. After that we drove to get our permit for hiking the Wolfberg Cracks and started out. First you drive thru some interesting rock formations called  ‘the Valley of the Red Gods’ which reminded me of Goblin Valley in Utah. The day was a bit overcast which was nice because the Cederberg is known for its hot, dry, very extreme temperatures. It took us about an hour to reach the cracks and then the exploring began. The rock formations are just enormous and very dramatic. We found our way around a decided to go the harder route thru the canyon which turned out to be much more exciting than the easy way in which we descended. We climbed through dark passageways, over and under rocks, and had a sheltered spot under this massive natural rock arch when it started to rain. Rain is very infrequent in the summer in the Cederberg but we packed our rain coats so we were warm and happy. We had a snack under the arch and let the rain pass and then continued on out of the cracks and back through the easy way, linking up with the original path down. We were very lucky with our timing because just as we got back to the car a hail thunderstorm came cascading down on us. Altogether it took us about 4 hours with lots of time for exploring and photos. What an amazing place to go re-energize for the year ahead!

20 Dec 2010

Tranquility Cracks

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December 20, 2010: Today we did a full day hike on Table Mountain. The weather was perfect and we were able to enjoy all day without any wind. My guests today were  Roger from Ireland, Joanne and Travis from Cape Town, Ray from St. Francis in the Eastern Cape. We started early at 7am exactly going up the Camps Bay side of the mountain to Tranquility Cracks. We climbed up a ravine and explored inside the rock formations that were created by wind and water erosion for awhile before having a snack on a perfect rock that fit all of us with a view over Camps Bay, Lions Head, and part of the back side of Table Mountain. From there we hiked up the backside of Table Mountain thru the Valley of Isolation to the cable station where we took the easy way down…the cable car! Along the way we saw a few birds, loads of Table Mountain Watsonias(Watsonia Tabularis), some frogs in the marshy areas on the backside, and one empty Hely-Hutchison dam. The views on this hike are amazing and the company was great!

15 Dec 2010

The wind won’t stop us!

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December 14, 2010:  Today was a day to remember. We had Roger from Limerick, Ireland with us,  Jen & Tracy who are in Cape Town for a friends wedding, and Alison & Mike who live in Hull, England. I planned an adventurous hike up India Venster but as I checked the weather forecast the wind just wasn’t letting up. I picked up my guests for the day and we decided to rather be safe than sorry and go up Lions Head which is protected at times when the South Easterly wind is blowing. We agreed we would still have fun even though our route would be a shorter ascent than planned. We took a leisurely walk up taking in the views and learning a few of the local plants. Alison was a bit frightened at first of the ladders and chain section(which is optional) but she watched as the others went up, and I guided her up step by step. She did it without a problem and next time will be even easier for her! We enjoyed a snack &  the weather up top wondering where all the wind was. We thoroughly enjoyed our morning and were glad we got down before 11:30 when it starts to get very hot.

29 Oct 2010

What have we been up to?

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December 2, 2010: Today was amazing! We went up Lions Head around  8 this morning so we didn’t get hit with the mid day heat. My guest was Benita, a Zimbabwean who tried hiking for the first time in her life today.She did great and absolutely loved it. The weather was perfect and we saw loads of flowers and a few rock agamas(lizards). Thread-leaved Klaas Louw bushes (Athanasia crithmifolia) were everywhere! There were loads of Purple Watsonias (Watsonia borbonica), Wild Dagga(Leonotis leonurus) on the sea-side of the mountain, and as we stopped for a break I noticed one of my favorite flowers…Lady’s Hand (Cyanella hyacinthoides). It is called Lady’s Hand because the stamens look like a miniature lady’s hand and it even looks like there are fingernails!