26 August 2010

A floriferous charge up Chapmans Peak

Us dogs were invited to walk up Chapman's Peak with the Wednesday walking girls. It was a very lovely day to begin with - nothing falling down in a puff of dust - and lots of flowers for the Food Lady to photograph like these ericas (Erica viscaria we think)... and this Adenandra uniflora growing along the steep steps.
We made it to the top and it was starting to get quite warm. We still have our winter coats on and it was a bit uncomfortable but luckily there was still lots of water up there for cooling off. At the top we had some dog biscuits and admired Long Beach far below.
Here is Dougal with the beacon just above.

Then it was down, down, down all the way home...
with views for the humans to ooh and aah over, and more flowers - pink ericas, and sandpypies (Gladiolus gracilis) and Fire Heaths (Erica cerinthoides). OK that's enough! (The Food Lady can go on a bit with her flowers!)
I was a little hot and bothered on the way down, and got sick of the Food Lady whistling and shouting at me to keep up.
At the bottom there were lots of these Green Satyr Orchids, Satyrium odorum growing in the shade next to a little stream, and I was pleased to be able to sit in the water and cool down while the humans chatted a bit.

23 August 2010

Cool towers falling

Today we had a late start because we wanted to see the cool towers falling. Sue and Lucy came with Josie who still doesn't want to know us. But I was happy to see her! It was a bit of a blustery, wet, cool day and we had to cross raging torrents at Newlands Forest (that involved some undignified picking up of dogs), and cross exposed scree slopes to get to a vantage point near the Blockhouse on Devil's Peak in order to see the deed being done.
These are the cool towers that were about to go up in smoke.
We found a spot to have tea so that we could see the towers - and all jostled for a good spot to watch the fun. This rock was a bit precarious ...although Josie seemed to find it more comfortable. Dougal and I thought Josie's raincoat was funny. We have never seen a dog raincoat!
Eventually I found a good spot to watch the action from the edge of the path.
Then a little puff of smoke appeared on the horizon in the rain and mist, and we heard cheering and general human noise all around: the cool towers were down - and a bit before schedule too. Then there was a huge bang and Dougal immediately looked greatly alarmed - the big drip!
Nothing left.
After finishing our interrupted tea, we pushed on a little way to the Block House but it was really windy and cold on the other side of Devil's Peak. The silver trees (Leucadenron argenteum) were flowering spectacularly. These are males. (You can see Sue and the Alpha Male in the background waiting for Lucy, Josie, me, Dougal and the FL to come back.)
A wet and bedraggled Geeltulp (Moraea collina) looking a bit how we all felt - drippy and droopy.
We came down a lower, different route, which was fun because there were lots of dogs who had come out with their humans to look at the towers falling. The rain stopped for a bit, but not for long.
While the Food lady was taking artistic shots of misty mountains and pine trees, we were just wet wet wet and glad to get back to the land rover again.

16 August 2010

Gargoyles and dragons on Upper Cave Peak

The Food Lady asked me to put this on the blog just so that she could assure you that she found the right path this time - all you sceptics who invented excuses to get out of being led up the garden path! She, Paul and Pauline were the only ones who ventured out yesterday - the rest of us were too nervous it seems. (Oh, and Dougal had a sore leg so he wasn't allowed.) Actually, I wouldn't have minded coming but I didn't want to leave Dougal on his own.
Here is Pauline walking along the Jojolu Path, looking a bit nervous about that gargoyle above. There were lots of pits and caves and sheer drops and other scary places. Tea time on the ridge near Cave Peak. Paul trying out his new spot meter on Ridge Peak. Dragon launching pad. Wood sorrel, Oxalis incarnata.
Fire over Kalk Bay - not sure how serious it was but seems it was a "vegetation fire" in the Silvermine Reserve which must have been dealt with pretty quickly as all fizzled out by the time the Food Lady was home.
More on the caves.
A map of Kalk Bay Peak. Basically, the walk they did was Shirley's walk from page 74 of A Walking Guide for the Hout Bay to Simon's Town Mountains but instead of coming down Echo Valley, we came down Spes Bona. Dougal and I did it once before with the Wednesday walking ladies. (Click here.)

02 August 2010

Rat's tails and Marsh Pagodas

Yesterday Dougal was once again in Heaven - he gets more and more manic with age! I, if you have noticed, get more and more decorous. (I only lose my cool when I hear a dog walking past in the road.) Anyway, it was off to a misty start with Paul (Pauline was away at a Workshop), Sue, Thea (back from Botswana), Alice (squirm and wriggle!) and our humans.
We spotted this Spur-winged Goose up on the misty, rocky slopes of Bokkop. They are apparently the largest geese in Africa!
All the plants were frosted with mist droplets. We scotties were quite soaked to the skin especially Dougal who was diving into the fynbos with huge enthusiasm. This is a frosted Black-bearded Protea (Protea lepidocarpodendron).
And in Swamp Daisy Valley in a boggy, swampy spot, we came across these Water Heaths (Erica curviflora) also looking all sugar-frosted.
Alice and Paul in the Water Heaths - this is how we Scotties are most of the time - just our heads above the plants! The Marsh Pagodas (Mimetes hirtus) plants were indeed flowering and full of noisy Cape Sugarbirds.
Alice took lots of photos of the March Pagodas because they are quite rare and endangered and on the Red List.
Thea spotted this funny little Babiana ringens plant growing in the middle of the path. Its common name is Rotstert or Rat's Tail and the odd leafless twig that looks like a rat's tail is actually a custom-made sunbird perch! Now that is just so amazing!
The path was full of swampy bits - here is Thea contemplating taking off her shoes - with some Swamp Daisies (Osmitopsis asteriscoides).
Now we can see why the hill is called Bokkop - buck's head.
Tea on the slopes of Spitskop. The humans were all very thrilled by the flowers and the views, Dougal was thrilled by the rodent smells, and I was thrilled too but not sure why! Perhaps because there were a few other dogs that walked past. Perhaps because Alice was here. Perhaps because there were rocks to climb. Perhaps because there were rusks for tea. Perhaps...
because the Food Lady was having fun taking photos of flowers, like this Featherhead (Phylica pubescens) bush.
Perhaps because I got to walk with the Alpha Male ahead of the pack, through beautiful flowers - like these sweet-smelling sweet-pea bushes or keurtjies (Podalyria calyptrata) that like to grow in ravines and marshy places. This is a bud of the sweet pea bush that gives its specific name to the whole plant. The bracts fuse to form a hood-like cover (calyptra in Latin) over the bud that breaks away as the bud swells - hence the name calyptrata. (Not sure if my Scottie brain understands all that but maybe some humans can!)
All good things come to an end, and although we Scots are looking tired and thirsty here, there were lots and lots of mountain streams to wade in and drink out of, so we were certainly not short of water. We were just a wee bit warm, but very, very happy!