28 June 2010

Up, up and away

Noordhoek Beach was the start of today's walk up Chapmans Peak. Sue, Paul and Pauline, the Alpha Male, the Food Lady, Dougal and me - all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
We were a bit puzzled by this sign at the start and thought we might have to walk on a separate path which was a bit alarming but luckily there were no SANPArks officials there yet and we struck out across the beach together and got to the start of the walk safely.
The boardwalk is the clue that you are on the right track!
Then it was across the road and up and up and up...
There was a helicopter hovering far below us and we wondered why.
Lots of pretty flowers for the Food Lady to photograph - although we kept her on her toes helping us up and over the rocks. This is Ruschia macowanii.
A well-earned tea at the top of Chapmans Peak - with me standing guard - and being waited on with bits of beano, Melissa's muesli rusks and water! The others had dates (Paul will send us his Internet link so we can all learn about dates) and Sue's crunchies, and Pauline had some date slices. Yum.
Me playing Sentinel during tea. (Paul took this photo.)
After tea Paul went exploring and stopped for a quick, quiet contemplative moment to ponder the real Sentinel.
We couldn't quite figure out how to get down there too.
And the Food Lady found this little Euphorbia tuberosa.
The mountainside was very biodiverse this morning. (See I've been listening to the Food Lady reading out Veld & Flora!) This was a very friendly male Orange-Breasted Sunbird sitting on a pincushion bush.
And we also found this tiny little lizard - that, according to Ernst van Jaarsveld - is a young Southern Rock Agama (Agama atra atra). We weren't allowed to eat it!
A Babiana villosula growing in the middle of the path. Could spring be in the air already!
There was definitely a spring in our steps! Coming down to Chapmans Peak Drive - tails still up despite it being quite warm. We were invigorated by the delicious water in all the little streams tumbling down the mountainside.
On our way back to fetch the cars at Noordhoek Beach we saw lots of ambulances and Metro Rescue vehicles on Chapmans Peak Drive - so whatever it is, this must have been the reason for the helicopter we saw earlier. (Found out later it was a missing person.)
Looking back at the civil engineering feats on Chapmans Peak Drive.

20 June 2010

Big Chief Hoerikwaggo

As a special treat on Father's Day, Dougal and I took our Alpha Male/father on the most fantastic walk. We left the Land Rover at Wolwekop Carpark and drove back to Boyes Drive where we went up the Mole Path (although the humans insist on calling it the mule path!) with Paul, Pauline and the Food Lady.
The distant mountains across False Bay were really looking like "Mountains in the Sea" which is the Khoi name for the Table Mountain chain of mountains, "Hoerikwaggo".
There were lots of birds (like this female Orange-breasted Sunbird) and insects making a racket in the wonderful warm sunshine.
This sundew was trying its best to catch some of the goggas but not doing terribly well. We think its Drosera hilaris. Dougal and I were also doing our best to catch some of the rodents and dassies that we could smell. We got so excited we were quite out of breath - and check the mad look in Dougal's eyes! I tried to keep my po-face (not sure if its a potty-face or a poker-face but probably a mixture!). Paul was excited by the beautiful light in the forest and took lots of photos in the deep, dark, dwarf forest of Spes Bona. The Food Lady thought she'd lost me and she also got all excited and stared calling me but I had just run on ahead.
I was a bit scared of this face on the cliff watching me. I think it must be Big Chief Hoerikwaggo with his mountains in the sea in the background.
We soon lost him, and had tea on the top, which was good today - a nice flat area to roam around with drinking pools and rooibos and cranberry rusks with dates - although we don't like the dates. Dougal was so exhausted with all the hunting for mice that he had a little nap.

Way over to the west we could see some mist rolling in from the sea (with apologies to the Paul McCartney) but it was still warm and sunny but not hot at all - just perfect for scotties. And even the purple erica was perfect for us scotties as we are genetically wired to identify with heather.
The humans liked all the King Proteas (Protea cynaroides) that grow around here but I think they must belong to Big Chief Hoerikwaggo as they are rather LARGE. I prefer the ericas.
This is the Sticky Heath (Erica urna-viridis) which is a rare and endemic erica that only occurs on the mountains of the Cape Peninsula. You can see Chapman's Peak in the background.
The path was truly wonderfully beautiful today - with lots of interesting smells for us and just the right height for hunting in. You can see the mast at the top of Constantiaberg in the background. We've been there too! Paul was carried away with the waterfall and used up his last film on it.

Then it was down the last primrose path where we tried a bit of dalliance but the Food Lady was having none of that and we were bundled back into the car and home we went ...
past all the flag sellers which reminded us that we had better watch the New Zealand-Italy soccer match later so we can report back to Nicola and her disgusting cat Jefferey.

15 June 2010

14 June 2010

Red, white and blue

We nearly lost out on a walk as it was raining when we woke up, but Sue sms-ed with a bright and cheerful message to get out of bed and join her at Newlands Forest because it was clearing up. (Sue was full of the joys of life - or should I say joie de vivre - having been to the France vs USA World Cup soccer match at the Cape Town Stadium on Friday night which was a really exciting event by all accounts.)
When we arrived we realized it was one of our best places - the Dogwoods. They are quite strict here and have a special poo bin, so once we had the poos done, bundled in plastic bags and popped in the bin, we set off: Paul and Pauline, Sue, the Foodlady, the Alpha Male (feeling better after his bacterial invasion), Dougal and me. Here is Paul with his red shoes on a carpet of red pine needles, with the AM looking on. It was quite wet from the storm last night, and the streams were in full spate. Some were easy to cross, but others were not and we had to be carried across. (You can see the white water in the photo below.) At one raging stream, the Alpha Male threw Dougal across the white swirling water onto the rocks on the other side, and made the Food Lady rather cross but then she and I will never understand the male psyche. Dougal said he preferred being chucked across and risking a broken leg or two to being carried, so everyone was happy in the end. Deep in the Dogwoods, we saw some lovely red berries that belong to the Cape Holly (Ilex mitis), and along Alice's path we saw some white berries that belong to the Dogwood, (Curtisia dentata). Because it was so wet, the spoil-sport Food Lady didn't bring any tea, which was a pity because it was actually a lovely day as you can see, and all too soon we were back on the road to the carpark. (Dougal and I were ahead chasing enticing smells.) Later on we heard some rather sad news that made us all feel blue. A 14-year old American boy from Texas fell down one of the ladders on the Skeleton Gorge path and died. In this rather appropriately gloomy photo taken on our walk, you can see Skeleton Gorge on the left hand side. Such a sad thing to have happened. We are all feeling so sorry for the boy's family and friends.

07 June 2010

More *#*#enberg photos

Check out these lovely photos from Alice taken on yesterday's walk up the Swearword Mountain.
Cape sugarbird.

06 June 2010

Wild and windy on Vlakkenberg

Five of us ventured out this morning: Dougal, me, the Food Lady, Alice and the birthday girl - Pauline. We started at the top of Price Drive where there are now some parking spots despite Fort Vlaggenberg's objections. This is Fort Vlaggenberg - the name that the FL calls this hideous fortress at the start of the walk with the two equally hideous Alsations. Today it was, appropriately, flying the English flag along with all its high tech equipment. (Vlakkenberg, aka the Swear Word Mountain, also used to be called Vlaggenberg - flag mountain.)
The weather was rather windy and stormy-looking as you can see, but we walked (some of us ran and had to keep stopping to wait when we were shouted at) up the hill to the top. It was very windy up there and Alice was getting ear-ache, so we turned straight round and came back down where it was perfectly calm and sheltered.
We found a view site for tea - rusks, dates, dried fruit and nougat for the humans, and rusks and beanos for us. Dougal and me (with leads on because of our nervous FL!) looking down on Groot Constantia estate - hoping to spot the baboons we could smell. After tea took another little side path called "ii" that went enticingly down into the baboon-scented forest, and came out again near the cars. Alf Morris's silver trees (Leucadendron argenteum) looked spectacular against the black sky. Read Alice's description of them here.
Then all too soon it was home again.