03 September 2011

Saddle up!

Sorry about the delay in posting this! The Food Lady spends all her time playing on the Internet and not paying attention to the Alpha Male or us, and has been neglecting her duties! But suffice to say that last Sunday we decided to go up Newlands Ravine, over the Saddle and down the other side to Tafelberg Road. We met up with Sue and Pauline under the gums on Tafelberg Road, and all drove to Newlands Forest in the Land Rover where we started the walk along the infamous Dog Poo Alley. We crossed a river,
and climbed up to the Contour Path,
past some bad invasive Australian Port Jackson trees (don't mention the word Acacia as the Food Lady gets cross because the sneaky Australians have stolen the name for their scraggy wattles) and some bad invasive Australian trees like this Pittosporum undulatum above,
until we got into the deep dark indigenous forest that all the lazy loons that shout for shade should come and experience so they can stop shouting and irritating the rest of us.
We trotted along trying to keep up with the Alph on the boardwalk
and over the scree slopes
until we came to this old and rusty sign telling us we were about to start up Newlands Ravine.
After a while we came out into the sunshine where we saw lots of flowers and birds, including lots of this Indigofera filiformis,
and some bracken fronds to make the Food Lady and the Alph think of their tramps through the forests of Aotearoa in the land of the All Blacks.
Dougal was hoping to see some squirrels (or a possum or two) in the trees, but there were none. Not even a baboon. The path went higher and got steeper - and the views were pretty good. You can see all the way to Hangklip. The Food Lady was excited to see an unusual erica she had never seen before: Erica triflora, as well as the more familiar Erica calycina. Nearly there - the two guys up ahead and ready to save us from any muggers!
Soon we were on the Saddle, and looking over the other side towards Robben Island.
There were lots and lots of ericas here - including anudder white one, Erica mammosa, the flowers of which are said to resemble cow's teats - hence the specific name.
The Alph went out on the spur of the moment to look at the view,
while Dougal looked for rodents, and Pauline looked at some pink Sissies (Brachysiphon fucatus) - a funny name (brachy=short, siphon=tube, and fucatus=artificially coloured) for a funny plant that only occurs on cool rocky sandstone slopes on the Cape Peninsula and nowhere else in the world. But Dougal can't appreciate stuff like that and was convinced Pauline had found a nest of mice.
I, on the other hand, appreciate more than just rodents, although I was hoping to come across some baboons to chase. Pauline, Sue and the Alpha Male sitting in the fynbos amongst another rare and endemic erica, the purple-red Erica abietina subsp. diabolis that only grows on Devil's Peak.
We started to make our way across the Saddle, and were relieved to find a plaque letting us know that we were on the right track. And bully for the idiotic Justin that carved his name on the plaque. I would like to sink my teeth into the back of his ankles!There were also drifts of this spectacular Cape Everlasting daisy (Syncarpha speciosissima) in amongst the white boulders on the Saddle. We had a cheese and biscuits break sitting next to a gurgling stream, checking out the view,before making our way down through the most spectacular spring flowers. You can just make out Pauline in this photo in amongst the erica bushes.
Looking into Platteklip Gorge with the Red Heath (Erica abietina subsp. abietina) in front. You can just see the upper Cable Station on the far right.
One of the butterfly bushes, most probably Polygala bracteolata.
After Breakfast Shelter, which Sue recognized, luckily or we might still be walking around Oppels Kop and the Scary Knife Edge path, we were back on familiar territory, and made our way down the Zig Zags to the cars.
This tiny little flower, Sebaea exacoides, growing on the path, was mentioned in the latest issue of Veld & Flora (September 2011) as having rather an unusual sex life, so the Food Lady thought it would be nice to include it here although we do try to keep things above board generally!
Almost down on Tafelberg Rd we were bombed by some Carpenter Bees buzzing bombastically in this Sweet Pea Bush (Podalyria calyptrata).
Sue then gave us a lift back to our Land Rover. We passed the mad scramble of tourists waiting to go up the Cable Car, and saw these funny Herero dolls stranded in the middle of the road. Lost in the city.
On the way home as we drove through Gardens, we looked back to where we had just been - the arrow marks the spot. (And no Paula, it is not halfway up the palm tree!) Quite a hike for us scots and for Sue who, just over a month ago, was undergoing major surgery! Take a bow Sue!

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