28 March 2011

Woodcutter spare that tree

Today we went for a short walk in Newlands with Sue - short because the humans were off to meet Arti and Gabe - some of my best friends and eating partners - and their parents and grandma on a real old steam train. It was rather dry which was good for us because we didn't have to be carried across the river. In the forest it was lovely and cool. This is a real indigenous forest - having been reclaimed about 35 years ago from plantations of pines. (The original forest was cut down before the end of the seventeenth century - hence the name of this trail: The Woodcutter Trail.)
There were not too many flowers as this is the time that the fynbos goes to sleep - in the hot and dry days at the end of summer - and just waits for the rains to come. This is a very tiny little lobelia - probably Lobelia erinus which is usually blue but can be other colours too.
We emerged from the forest into a newly cleared area where the silver trees are coming up and the fynbos looking quite happy - if a bit sleepy and dry. The Alpha Male and Sue - with Dawnie close behind. And Capetonians who pine for the pine plantations of Cecilia Forest, come to Newlands! There are lots and lots still here so we hope that SANParks will let them stay until they fall down, or get eaten by this bracket fungus, so that the sad and pining Capetonians don't have to waste money on silly adverts about shouting for shade. There is lovely shade here, not all of it sterile monocultured pines and gums either, and shady walks in tons of other places we have been in Cape Town. And one day, we are sure, Cecilia will be quite walkable again. But maybe just cool it SANParks - as our Alpha tells us regularly. Leave these pines to placate the piners and go to work on the gums on the other side.

(Title with apologies to George Morris and others who followed ...)

26 March 2011

Castles in the mist

Last week they (Phil, Alice, the FL and the AM) left us behind and went for a walk up Kasteelspoort but I wasn't too phased as I had a bad experience in Kasteelspoort when I was sick and had to be carried down by the Alpha. And although it was foggy in Cape Town, it was too hot for a Scot. So I graciously consented to the Food Lady using my blog to upload some of their photos. They left a car at the Lower Cable Station - Devil's Peak in thick mist. Then they all piled into Alice's car and drove to Camps Bay where they left it Theresa Road, and set out up the mountain. Here is Phil checking that they are on the right track. Climbing up Kasteelspoort in the mist. No view! Phil wondering if this hiking lark is all worth it. (His new shoes still going well.) Lion's Head sticking out of the mist - looking a bit like a shark's fin. More mist - with the Upper Cable Station just visible.Mist billowing up Kasteelspoort. Take note of that ledge right at the top on the right hand (Postern Buttress) side of the gorge as that will feature in a subsequent photo. Alice mustering the rather dejected looking troops. It WILL clear up soon.And she was right. (Alice is always right as far as I am concerned.) It was clear at the top! Here they are sitting on the ruins of the old aerial cableway that was built in 1893 at the top of Kasteelspoort on the edge of Postern Buttress to bring up supplies for the dams they were building on the top. (For some old photos of the cablecar, click here.) Uh-oh, Phil seems to have wandered out onto a ledge.
A very precarious one too - although I wouldn't mind being out there as I have no fear of heights and this is about 700 m high. But I don't think the Food Lady would allow ME up there!
A quick re-fuel at the top of Kasteelspoort. Close up of some of the ruins of the old cableway. Apparently there was a whole village here.

Looking back: the mist rising up Was it heat exhaustion or was the Food Lady seeing things? This looks like a baby dinosaur! And, phor the phood lady, a Phylica dioica.

Still on the right track having negotiated the Valley of the Red Gods, the Valley of Isolation, Ark Valley and now Echo Valley. On the left of the gorge is a strange cartoon-dog face, and on the right, almost in the centre of the photo, you can just see the Upper Cable Station. But there was still a loooong way to go before the ice cold beers.

A little grasshopper on a cone of the endemic Peninsula Conebush (Leucadendron strobilinum).
Climbing the ladders. The King of Proteas - the King Protea (Protea cynaroides).
Looking down at Camps Bay,
and back to Hout Bay.
A gnew gnidia for the Food Lady - this one the Mountain Saffronbush (Gnidia tomentosa). Yet agnother gnidia - but one we have seen before - the Buttonhole Saffronbush (Gnidia oppositifolia).
At last, Platteklip Gorge - and here is the war memorial at the top of the gorge, erected in 1892. (Erroneously saying Maclears Beacon!)

Downing cold Castles. Not really to Phil's taste though. (He is keen on micro-brewery beers.) But the FL thought it was appropriate as we had climbed up a castle so it was time to down one.
Checking that Alice's car (see purple arrow) was still waiting for us at Camp's Bay.
Planning an abseil. (Anyone have a spare R550 to spend?)
Another Familiar Chat.
The cable for the Cable Way.
Looking back at the walk we did last Sunday with Paul and Pauline, Jean and Tim.
And looking up as they sailed down the cableway.
There was a helicopter rescue going on as they descended - two climbers had been doing some free-climbing above the India Venster track and one had fallen to his death. Rather depressing.
More Metro Rescue and emergency vehicles at the Lower Cable Station.
If you look at this photo you can see why it is called India Ravine as it really does look like the map of India. Which reminds me of our dear Alpha's disappointment at the poor show of our cricket team in India. But, as the Food Lady says, she is used to them snatching defeat from the jaws of victory so she wasn't really phased at all.
Dougal was so mad when they arrived home that he ran off with the Food Lady's shoe. (No doubt he tried to bury it in the middle of the Best Flowerbed.) Bad bad dog.

24 March 2011

Breaking in new boots

The main reason for today's hike was for Philip, our human brother who was visiting from Jozi, to try out his new hiking boots that he bought for his trip to Brazil in June. It was quite hot and the sun was blazing a bit as Phil, Lucy and Josie, our humans and us made our way up to the Higher Steenberg Peak. Just look at our tongues hanging out! Poor Dawnie was the hottest as she has the thickest coat.
There were considerably more flowers for the Food Lady to take photos than last week. This is a Golden Spiderhead (Serruria villosa) that only grows on Table Mountain,
and Bulbine favosa.
This hairy plant is Phylica imberbis (but it also could be P. ericoides - the FL needs to check with Alice who wasn't there as she was getting ready for her party - to celebrate her birthday - without me).
A Familiar Chat was sitting on a dinosaur rock flicking its wings at us, but we are not interested in chasing birds. We are rodent hunters. Lucy, Alpha, Phil, me and Dawnie stopping for a water break and to look at the view. We wished the cool mist in the distance would reach up Steenberg Peak and cool us down.
Phil and Dawnie with Table Mountain and Devil's Peak in the background.
There were some cool caves and crannies to shelter from the fierce sun - I call this the Black Scotty Shelter.
A dinosaur slinking over the edge of Steenberg Peak just above the Fat Lady Shelter. Could it be scared of the crazy Dougal and his rodent hunting ways?
Agnother gnidia - this one is the Buttonhole Saffronbush (Gnidia oppositifolia).
So far the shoes were doing just fine.
Lucy leading the way through narrow passageways, definitely not for Fat Ladies!
with me close behind.
A welcome tea break. Josie wisely staying in the shade.
Keeping a leery eye out to see that the Food Lady doesn't get any ideas of throwing water over me! I am quite cool enough thank you.
Tea photo. Lucy, the Alpha and Phil - but not a dog in sight as we were all sheltering in shady nooks and crannies.
Dougal after some mice. Eternally hopeful but fynbos mice are far cleverer than Rattus Rattus and Dougal remains unsuccessful.
A Cluster Disa (Disa ferruginea) growing in a rock crevice.
Back down the same way we came up. You can see Ou Kaapse Weg and the other side of Silvermine in the background.
Pretty pink Autumn Pipes (Gladiolus brevifolia).
There were lots of these dried daisies and brown restios, and a late flowering Tritoniopsis parviflora,
and some Staavia radiata bushes from the blacktip family (Bruniaceae) which are not usually flowering now.
Still lots of these Summer Snakeflowers (Tritoniopsis triticea) blazing red in the sun. In fact they were almost as colourful as Phil's water bottle!
At last the clenched fist rock came into sight and we were almost back at the cars and some water and shade.
Back at home we didn't have time to rest after our walk because we had to chase the neighbour's cheeky ginger cat out of the garden,
and clear the flowerbeds of skinks. All in all, a good morning was had by all.