13 December 2011

Drip, drip, drip

The humans were determined to hike up to Maclear's Beacon today as plans to do so had been scuppered on the last three attempts due to high winds, rain and heat. So a gentle drizzle was nothing, in fact it was great because it meant we could come too. We started at the Rycroft Gate at Kirstenbosch where we met the only other person mad enough to join us - Pauline. Here is Dougal looking a bit sceptical.
We slogged up Nursery in the drippy drizzle,
us Scots in our element: cool wet weather, and lots of smells and rustles in the undergrowth to investigate.
Waiting for the phoodlady almost at the top.
By the time we reached the top of Nursery Ravine, the squall had passed and the sun was trying to break through.
Dougal being a dassie.
Pauline, me, Dougal - and the Food Lady pouring the tea - taken by the Alpha.
They were keen to see Drip Disas, but we also saw drip sedges with large droplets that were about to drip ...
and a Drip Erica - (actually Erica plukenetti) flowering rather later than usual,
and a glistening Blister Bush, Notobuton galbanum - a member of the carrot family.
As if I wasn't wet enough already! But the mountain water is just so inviting.
This was the closest we got to seeing Drip Disas (Disa longicornu). Tight buds.
and some more buds of another disa, possibly Disa vaginata or maybe D. rosea.
We saw lots and lots of wonderfully drippy waterfalls - water was just cascading and gushing everywhere.
Relieved to see we were on the right track as the weather started to close in again.
The cloud lifted to reveal a glimpse of the Constantia winelands far below.
Omigosh what's that! A Christmas rocky reindeer?
The Food Lady and Pauline exclaimed over some pretty pink and fluffy bushes of the Rose Rice Heath (Erica tenuifolia).
Some helpful white arrows pointed us in the right direction as it was too misty to see very far ahead now.
A cute little Bulbine.
We clambered up and up, through waterfalls and tight spots,
until at last Maclear's Beacon loomed into sight.
Two nice people who had come from the cable car offered to take a photo of all of us at the beacon. We were quite relieved to see them there as it was quite windy and wet and we were worried that the cable car might be closed and we would have to walk down Platteklip Gorge.
It was too chilly to linger at the beacon, so we carried on through the soggy wetland, mist
and drizzle
and made it back to the cable car at about noon, where we had a picnic lunch and Pauline bought some coffee for the Food Lady and herself and a beer for the Alph which went down very well. We had some "Mocha and Almond" rusks, a Beano and some mountain water which suited us just fine too!
We felt relieved to be alive when we looked at this monument to all of the people who have died on Table Mountain.

The Alph phoned Simon to come and fetch us and we went down in the cable car which I did NOT enjoy one little bit!
It was all rather confusing and scary in the cable car
and we were mighty relieved to get down to find Simon waiting for us with the Land Rover.
Two tired and happy Scotties.

04 December 2011

Maddie's first walk

Alice was back - oh frabjous day! - with her new mad dog called Maddie. This was Maddie's first walk with us. Paul and Pauline were here, and Thea and Sue, and of course, the Food Lady, Alph and Dougal. We meandered a bit in good Food Lady style around a maze of white sandy paths that disappeared and re-appeared but eventually, thanks to Sue and the Alph, a good path was located and we set out in a stiff breeze up into the Baskloof Nature Reserve.
Some pretty little Lapeirousia anceps flowers growing in the white sand.
Ah - a signpost - we must be on a real path.
There were lots of everlasting daisies - in this photo you can see Cape Snow (Syncarpha vestita) and Edmondia sesamoides, the former with a red centre, and the latter with a yellow centre.
The fluffy seeds were blowing off this grass - possibly Thatch Grass (Hyparrhenia hirta).
More Cape Snow.
There were also lots of different types of Roella in flower. This one is probably Roella triflora.
The path took us through some magical areas with gorgeous flowers. But is was starting to get quite warm, and the wind dropped,
so we decided to go and have tea at Kleinplaas Dam so we dogs could have a cooling dip. The Food Lady's "five to ten minutes" turned out to be more like half an hour so we were really in need of a swim when we finally arrived at the dam.
Young Maddie really had a good time in the water and Dougal got wet up to his shoulders.
Paul found a shady spot in the rocks to cool off as humans are not allowed to swim here.
Tea time.
The SANParks peeps must be expecting some radical climate change events, as the marker for the depth of the water is quite high.
By now it was very hot and the cooling wind had disappeared. But best foot forward!
Looking for all the world like a spider, this assassin bug (possibly a species of Lopodytes) was lurking in a Yellow Ixia (Ixia dubia). Assassin bugs prey on other arthropods - creeping slowly up on them, grabbing them and injecting them with paralysing toxin. They can also inflict a nasty bite on inquisitive dog's noses.
It was so hot by this stage that I had to be carried home. The view from here was spectacular!
Poor old Dougal was left to find patches of shade to snatch a few moments to shelter from the fierce sun.
Here he is with Maddie having a relax in the shade. It was hot
and the path seemed to go on and on but at last the village of Scarborough came into view.
Before long we were back at the cars. Sue and the Food Lady went to pay for our permits at Mickey's Mouse Trap shop which is behind that grille. They were only R12 each.
Then Alice and Maddie went for a swim, Paul and Pauline went home and the rest of them had a drink at the Camel Rock Restaurant. Here is the Alph - my saviour and hero for carrying me all the way down.
And Sue.
And Thea who stood us drinks. There was even a bucket of water for us Scots and some rather rangy local dogs to interest us.
We stopped to check out the Notten's "family room across the mountain" in Scarborough. Some progress has been made.
Now are we hallucinating? I know we were really hot and tired, but these did look like camels and palm trees in the middle of Noordhoek.