Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Walking in winter

I left the house at 7.25am to meet my walking party, a group which hikes together every week, led by Marianne Alexander, at a nearby shopping centre.

The sun rises late in the Cape winter.

After sorting out cars and rides we arrived at Silvermine on the east side of Ou Kaapseweg to a peninsula just touched by the sun, rising beyond the Hottentots Holland mountains.

I had not hiked in this direction before - usually Vince and I break right, but this time we headed left, skirting the road below for fifteen minutes as the cloud above Table Mountain became polished in the early light.

I like winter in Cape Town.

Soon, we were in the clouds and wind above Muizenberg Peak. The second sweater I'd taken off, went back on. My windproof jacket's hood was activated.

The sculpted and weather-shaped sandstone was a grey backdrop to the brilliant acid of the Leucadendrons' new growth.

In the background, Mimetes in early bloom.

A closer view...

I had never seen this vivid colour before. While there were few flowers, the landscape itself became more important than my usual macro focus.

I may have been a disappointingly mute hiking partner. The party was large, and sociable. The rocks, silent and eloquent.

A halt was called for tea, and everyone settled down to sundry snacks and sandwiches. My little flask had kept my espresso reassuringly warm. I munched fruit buns with butter and my mom's apricot jam.

Toads breeding. But what kind of toads? Western leopard toads are given a lot of press and their own Toad Crossing signs because of their endangered status, but I was told by a fellow hiker that they do not breed this high. The signs says that transgressors "will be dealt with accordingly..." This was in the area near the antennae (rising a hundred or so feet, guessing?) which belong to the navy. 

On our return leg, about two hours after starting, we walked back into some sunlight. 

The sound of running water was everywhere, small clear tan streams, stained a characteristic fynbos-brown by plant roots.

I let the party move ahead and stood for a while, listening to the water and to the rusty chatter of sugarbirds higher on the slopes.

Flowers, at last. Small and large -the tiny pink Diastella divaricata belongs to the family Proteaceae, and the king protea is Protea cynaroides

Back on the relative flat near the jeep track, more pools of clean mountain water.

Promises of orchids to come.. What I would not give to be here in the spring.

Here we passed that incongruous white bakkie, nosing its way up the track.

And then it was over.  And we gathered, got into cars and drove back down to where all the people are. The privilege of living in Cape Town is this spectacular proximity of nature to human dwellings.

It is a siren call.


  1. Gosh, I feel like you are stalking me, or I am stalking you! I moved back to Cape Town last year and went to Cape Point around the same time as you did, and saw the amazing white snowy flowers which you usefully named for me. I went walking in this exact spot in Silvermine on Saturday and saw the beautiful pink bushes that you have usefully named for me. Thanks for being my secret fynbos guide!

  2. Oh, no. Busted.

    Actually, that made me go back to your old blog and I have just been reading several posts. I should be making fresh green herb sauce. And setting up a gmail account for my dad. But, you know.

    I laughed out loud about your I don't care list re. moving back to South Africa. May I copy it, with credit?

    You write very well, and are very funny in a nail it on the head kind of way.

    I hope you are able to blog regularly again.

    1. Thank you, you may copy my post with pleasure. I do miss blogging but moving country and settling in is turbulent, I seem to have lost inspiration. I am actually doing a Masters in Conservation Biology, I love the plants in the Gape so much, but know so little about them, so it is always a pleasure to see the names on your blog.

  3. Wow, wow and wow. Beautiful morning light. And I have never seen that much water on that side of Silvermine!

    Copper thief-wise, wouldn't there be much easier places to raid than Silvermine? But then again. Makes me worry about the oh-so-pretty baskets I brought back to my friends at work. All that wire has to come from somewhere...

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    2. Bother. You just reminded me of the main waterfall. It was pouring over the cliff and I can't find my photo of it! We didn't walk past it as I had hoped, so I shot off down a side path to see it.

      Hm. Ja. That copper wire. Are the baskets copper? Coated?

      But look at the link in the post re. the thefts... (And the military police hotline I called just rang, and rang, and rang...and then disconnected. My dad said no point in going to the regular police because I would just sit there while nothing happened. So...that is the flip side of living in Eden.)

  4. Get the feeling that siren call seems to be building Marie, like an orchestra playing up to crescendo, coming loud and sweet and clear from not only home and family but landscape, flora and fauna too : )

  5. I love the proteas! Living in Seattle we only see them in florists. I can only imagine how lovely they are growing all over. What a wonderful trip...I am so enjoying your (and Vince's) pictures and description. I almost feel I was there with you.

  6. Thanks so much for this marvelous post! What a gorgeous landscape and wonderful flora! Keep them coming -- I don't know when I will make it to South Africa, but your posts certainly make me want to go as soon as I can. And they are a wonderful treat in the meantime.

  7. Wow, if the landscape is this spectacular in the winter, I can only imagine what it's like in the spring!

  8. Hello Marie, I googled "Fynbos" and found this wonderful post. Do you mind if I use one of your photos, with credit, on the website for one of my geocaches?

    1. Hi Cara - if you can link back to this post, yes, go ahead :-)


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