27 September 2010

What Elsie?

This is where we started - at the bottom of Ravine Steps in Fish Hoek. Pauline and Sue were there with Antje and her dad, Gunther from Germany. A little way up Alice came out of a house - what a surprise! We hear that this is her new house but she hasn't moved in yet. She joined us, and we went up a few more steps to the end of the houses. Dougal soon found the path. Come on you lot!

The views over Fish Hoek had the humans oohing. Not sure really what they see in views, but I do try. This is me looking over Glencairn.
There were lots of beautiful purple Wild Asters - Felicia fruticosa. Here is Sue.
This is me with my new friend Gunther.
An Appelkoostulp (Moraea ochroleuca). And a Cluster Spiderhead (Serruria glomerata). Lots of flowers to look at here - luckily the Alpha had stayed at home to say cheerio to Wyndham.

We carried on up a very gentle, sandy path - you can see Antje and her dad - till we reached the top which was rather bleak and windy. There seems to be a bit of confusion as to the origin of the name Elsie - and some say it is Els' Peak - but not too bothered about that - I was keen to find a spot for tea. And we soon did. Here is Dougal playing sentry while I snuggled up to Pauline.
I got the distinct impression we were being watched ...
Alice brought some biscuits called "Scotties" for us - although the Food Lady said they had too much sugar for us, and Alice said she could taste margarine in them. But we got a piece each after some looking angelic and a bit sad on my part and I thought they were delicious.
Dougal was also tickled pink - er ... tartan.

Then we started going all the way down again. Here is Antje and Gunther in the Green Tree Pincushion (Leucospermum conocarpodendron) bushes - with Pauline and Alice not far behind. The Phood Lady asked me to sneak in one more phlowery photo - and this one has the wierdest name - Syncarpha gnaphaloides - otherwise known as Vlaktee - a member of the everlasting daisy group. And on that note it started raining and the camera had to be stowed away!

Ash Valley

On Saturday we had Wyndham (the father of Tammy - who is one of my most bestest of all humans) to stay and the Food Lady decided to use this as an excuse to go for a 6 hour hike up the mountain. We started at Cecilia forest, and headed up Cecilia Ravine again, this time with the Alpha to help me up the tricky bits. While we were having a drinks break on Breakfast Rock, this little Neddicky joined us,
and further up we saw these hairy monkey beetles having fun in a pillow-white flowerhead of the Cape Everlasting (Syncarpha speciosissima).
Then we were up and back on the Great Dog Highway. Interestingly, this road where the Alpha and Wyndham can be seen - Wyndham checking his GPS co-ordinates - and which is also known as the Bridle Path, was laid out by Thomas Charles John Bain, son of the more famous Andrew Geddes Bain (also Scots!).
We crossed a few streams and here we are standing on a wall that diverts water into an aqueduct that runs down the mountain to Kirstenbosch.
Looking down into Nursery Ravine.
We walked along an easy path, past this glade of exotic trees that was planted over a hundred years ago - and which is why the ravine is called Nursery Ravine. The Food Lady says all the invasive trees have been felled, and the ones that remain are Silver Birches, Turkey Oaks and Cryptomeria japonica fir trees.
Up on top and heading to the Woodhead Dam with the Alpha. It was nice and cool and splashy and wet. These are the flowers of the Peninsula endemic Mountain Rose (Leucadendron strobilinum.) The Food Lady frog-marched us to the Waterworks Museum for Wyndham to admire Terence Timoney's legacy to the people of Cape Town. This is a photo inside the little museum of the Black Watch Scottish regiment pipers at the laying of the foundation stone of the Woodhead Dam in 1894. Us Scots are everywhere!
We did a little diversion - the "scenic route" - the euphemism for getting a bit lost! and had lunch overlooking a large, mostly empty Victoria Dam. Then headed back to take the Ash Valley track back to the Great Dog Highway.
The Western Province Mountain Club hut in Ash Valley. This was originally a stone cottage built for the forester, Paul Schickerdanz, who planted the nursery at the top of Nursery Ravine in the the mid 1880s. There were barracks for 15 convict labourers here too. If you look closely to the left you can see a little boy climbing on the rock. We were quite envious of him and his family who looked like they were having a lovely relaxing time in the hut - and we knew we had to start heading all the way down again.
In Ash Valley, the floor was a carpet of these tiny pink Witsterretjies (Spiloxene alba).
A white Geranium incanum. (The pink garden ones come from the George area, but these are the true Cape Peninsula ones.)
I got a bit tired - and the road was quite hard underfoot - so the Alpha gave me a lift for a bit.
The long road home. For the first time in history, we didn't see any other dogs on the Great Dog Highway.
Looking back at Constantia Ridge where we scrambled up a few hours earlier.
We wanted to get stuck into this enticingly screeching cockroach, Aptera fusca, on the road but the Food Lady said absolutely not - she tends to be a bit of a spoilsport when it comes to us hunting on the mountain and besides, it ejects a black liquid that might sting our eyes. (We dont really care about that sort of thing but we decided not to fight too hard to bite it in two.)
Some pretty flowers along the way included this Painted Lady (Gladiolus carneus),
and spider had spun a web around the flowers of this soetgonna bush (Struthiola dodecandra). By the time we got down into the forest, my back legs were a bit wonky and didn't always do what I wanted them to do - but as you can see, my tail was still up. Back in Cecilia Forest I was able to cool off in this lovely cold water. Wyndham had sore knees.But Dougal didn't want to come home and the Alpha had to chase him back to the car.

20 September 2010

Tripping along the Pipe Track

One of the Food Lady's favourite words to us is "Pipe down!" so I was a bit apprehensive to hear we were going to the Pipe Track, because the word means I have to keep quiet and its difficult for Scotties to do that. On Sunday morning Alice (yippee and howwwlllll with joy) came to our house, and on the way to the Pipe Track we picked up Sue and Thea (without Boris). Pauline met us in the parking place and off we went. The large black pipe - sometimes two of them - followed us all the way. This is how Jack Russells try to Pipe down on the Pipe Track. I was itching to bark at him but Dougal ignored him so I thought it would be prudent to pipe down too.We walked along the path above Camps Bay, the humans admiring the view and the flowers, and the dogs smelling all sorts of trails and picking up some pee mail. It was quite windy and stormy, but luckily not wet and the Twelve Apostles were mostly in the clouds ... so they couldn't see Dougal taking a sly bite at a husky's back legs. Look at him contemplating the fetlock. Luckily the husky had such thick hair that he didn't seem to notice... and the humans were all preoccupied with the view and flowers and trees. This is Thea minus Boris. I was dismayed when they saw a plant called Cats Claws, (Hyobanche sanguinea), but luckily they weren't like our cat's claws at all and stayed firmly on the plant. (Our cat's reach with her claws is alarming, and I haven't been able to snap off her paw because she is so quick.) For the tea spot they chose a steep slope overlooking some alien invasive gums which the Food Lady kept going on about why SANParks doesn't leave the pines on the other side and concentrate on taking out these more sinister invasives. After tea I walked with the Alpha Male all the way up to Slangolie Ravine. It was good to have him back!
The Food Lady didn't want us to go too much further as the path gets rather steep.So we turned round and went back, although I did contemplate taking a different route away from the pipe. Dougal said it wasn't a good idea. Then a funny smell had the humans crouching in the fynbos sniffing away like us dogs - I must say I was a bit bemused at such behaviour from them ... but it was this plant, a Bastertrewwa (Corycium orobanchoides) that was smelling strange. Alice reassured me that all was well. But they found another smelly plant, a Spider Lily (Ferraria crispa). At least they didn't start rolling in it! With all the sniffing, Dougal and the Alpha got far ahead and sat down to wait. The Alpha is still partly in France, so he didn't mind. Then we were a bit bemused when Thea, Sue and Pauline said goodbye with lots of kisses, and started walking down the road and Alice and our humans didn't follow but instead, took the higher path and carried on alone. Then we remembered that Sue had her car parked at Theresa Ave because she needed a quick getaway. In this photo of me and the Alpha M, you can just see the tip of Lions Head where the AM's hand is. Then we were back where we started from, and for a moment we thought we were catching a bus... but we got back into the car and went home. This is the view over Cape Town from the car park.