Tag Archives: Meridian hiking

Skeleton Gorge with Meridian

Skeleton Gorge and the Aquaduct – Red & Blue Disas and more

Meridian Skeleton Gorge Feb 2013_046

Red disa – Window Gorge Stream

Saturday was a perfect Cape Town day for a hike up the southern side of Table Mountain, in search of the Red disa (Disa uniflora). These magnificent flowers only show themselves towards the end of January and usually fade away around the end of February. How quickly time flies when one wants to do something like this, before you know what has happened they have disappeared for another year. This year I have been lucky to see them in two different places, Myburgh and Disa Ravine, but they are always most prolific in the Window Gorge Stream and Aquaduct areas.

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Meridian Hiking Club on Aquaduct Path

The weather was a bit cooler than it has been lately, with a little bit of cloud around to bring the temperatures down. From Cecelia Forest we headed up to the Contour Path and on to Skeleton Gorge. It was a fairly strong Meridian Hiking Club group, so the pace was reasonably good. We soon reached the top where there were a few of sort after flower hanging from the cliff face. Further down Smuts Track, at the Window Gorge stream there was a much more abundant display, with their red reflections in the water doubling the effect.

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King Protea on Nursery Ravine

Along the route we were lucky enough to spot quite a few Blue disa (Disa graminifolia) and the occasional display by the red Cluster disa (Disa ferruginea). Up in the Aquaduct there was evidence of what must have been quite a magnificent exhibition of the Red disas, but most were now past their best. There will probably still be a few around this coming weekend, but that will probably be the last opportunity of the season.

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Crossing the Aqueduct – Disas below

We continued our walk down the valley towards the reservoirs where we had our picnic lunch, before heading back through Nursery Ravine. About half-way down Nursery there is the most wonderful show of King Protea (Protea cynaroides). Even though this is not my own favourite route down (or up) the mountain, it is worth the effort just to see this.

It was good to get on to the contour path and head back for Cecelia Forest and the inevitable cold beer at the finish.

Meridian Skeleton Gorge Feb 2013

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Hout Bay to Oude Skip

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Hout Bay to Oude Skip, a set on Flickr.

A warning – this is a route only to be tackled with the utmost care and planning. I am pleased to have done it, but not again in a hurry.

There are sections where you can only get through at low tide and in calm conditions. We thought we had planned sufficiently for the low tide but were caught by high waves and ended up trapped, with no way back. The escape gully is steep and dangerous, with loose granite rocks and scrambling through thick bush. We were lucky, with some advice from mountain rescue via cell phone, to find our way out.

The route also has a good deal of exposure on steep granite slopes that fall off into the sea. The last part, on Duiker Ridge, where there used to be a well established path, is also in the process of being cleared of alien vegetation by SANParks and the path disappears suddenly. It requires considerableg bundu bashing towards the block house. Not good, especially if you don’t know where the path used to be and where you are heading.

It was an 11.5 km walk and took over nine hours.

Nevertheless, it is a spectacular route, with great views and interesting coastline.

Hout Bay to Oude Skip – 2nd Sept 2012

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Meridian-Getaway Corridor Ravine Hike

Atlantic coast from Tranquility Cracks

Hiking the Pipe Track

After hearing that in the region of 100 people had booked for this hike through Getaway Magazine, I had grave reservations about the wisdom of the event, particularly as there had been quite a bit of cloud on the Mountain over the previous few days.

Slangolie Waterfall

The day turned out to be one of Cape Town’s perfect late autumn days, with absolutely clear sky and very little wind. Still with some reservations, I felt a bit more comfortable with the situation. There were a few good hike leaders that were bringing up the rear and were prepared to monitor and return with those that would find the route too strenuous. It was certainly a diverse group, with some seasoned hikers, complete hiking novices and family groups with kids. If nothing else it was festive.

Scramble through the forest

The route would take us down to the end of the Pipe Track, up Corridor Ravine to the Twelve Apostles path and back down Kasteelspoort. A good days hiking covering everything from easy walking along the contour, to some steep climbing uphill, a variable path along the top and mild downhill scrambling. It is amazing how quickly a group of this size can spread out, bringing back memories for me of the Argus Cycle Tour, where you can set out in a group of 1000 and end up cycling almost alone in places. The fast guys set off at pace and soon disappeared along the Pipe Track. I was probably somewhere in the middle and there was good conversation and undemanding walking. By the time we got to this section, there were a few hikers that were clearly not going to make it up Corridor. We managed to link them up with the group turning back and I continued up the Ravine with a small group that now formed the rear guard, although I later discovered that there was a group behind us.

Corridor Ravine

Corridor is a pleasant route up on a good path, that has recently seem some good maintenance work by Table Mountain National Park. It is not too steep, but gets the heart rate up and made me feel that I had a some good exercise after the easy first part. At the top we met up with some of the rest, but the main party had already moved on. This was a good place for lunch and the ripe camembert and cucumber sandwich I had brought along, tasted pretty good.

Having not done this route for some time I was happy that my memory of it was spot on as we set out towards Kasteelspoort. The path is good and going straightforward. The small group I was with wanted to do a deviation to Tranquility Cracks, which is always a rewarding experience. By the time we had done this detour it put us right at the back of the main group but we did catch up with some of the other backmarkers at Kasteelspoort.

Orange breasted sunbird

By this time some of the less regular hikers were starting to feel the effects of the unaccustomed exercise and there were a few sore muscles and stiff knees, resulting in a fairly slow trek down to the contour path. It always seems to take longer than I expect to get back to the Pipe Track when coming down Kasteelspoort and it was good to get back on the level path. It is still quite a way from here until the finish at Kloof Nek, but it was a jovial group that had enjoyed the day out. It was an enjoyable day, but I was pleased to be sure that everyone in our group was back safe and sound. Although it was a good day, I am sure that I would not want to do it with a group this size in less perfect weather conditions.

For guided Table Mountain hikes and overnight hiking trails contact Frank:  frank@slackpackersa.co.za

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Noordhoek Peak via Steenberg Ridge & Panorama Path

Looking towards False Bay and Simonstown

The direct path from Silvermine Dam to the Blackburn Ravine view point platform is a regular for me, being part of the Hoerikwaggo Trail and a quick and easy way to this popular lookout point. It was great therefore to join Meridian Hiking Club to take a slightly different route up Steenberg Ridge, to walk at a slightly higher level overlooking the Constantia Valley, the Cape Flats and False Bay. After the short climb from the parking area up to the ridge it is fairly level and it is an easy walk to across the top. The path is clear and most of the invasive vegetation has been removed from this area now,

Pausing for photographers to catch up

including the stark, dead pine trees that marked the top of the ridge for a long time. The dead logs are still lying around but the fynbos is looking particularly good and looking down to the Silvermine Dam into the Protea covered Silvermine Valley one has to appreciate how lucky we are to live in the Cape. At the end of the ridge path drops down to cross the Elephants Eye path and link up with the jeep track to the top of Blackburn. The view over Hout Bay, as always, was magnificent. Being a slightly cooler day than we have been used to, with a cool wind blowing and knowing that the views could be admired while we were walking, we did not stay long and retraced our steps to take the path up to the peak above Blackburn Ravine. Strangely, although this is a fairly prominent peak, with a stiff climb to the summit, no map I have consulted gives it a name. At the summit, we paused allow some of the stragglers to catch up the group come together. It does not matter where you stop on this walk, there is superb view in all directions. The higher level allows

Silvermine Valley

you to see Hout Bay, Table Mountain, Constantiaberg, Chapmans Peak, False Bay and the Kalk Bay and Muizenberg Peaks from the same point. The path down from this peak is known as the Panorama

Hout Bay from the Panorama path

Path, for good reason. The main view is over Hout Bay but it is scenic overload. At the next convenient outlook point we stopped for a tea break and to just enjoy the setting. I am not sure if it was just protected from the wind or the weather was being kind to us as we sat to enjoy our refreshments and the warmth of the sun. On an impossible rocky outcrop, not far from where we sat perched two fledgling Rock Kestrels. We watched as they gathered themselves and eventually launched in to flight, encouraged by a small

Orange Breasted Sunbird that buzzed around them. It is some time since I had done this route had anticipated that the walk from where we had tea to Noordhoek Peak, was going to be very short. There were a few more ups and downs than I remembered and time to enjoy the quiet of this fabulous area with the ever changing rock formations and vegetation. After Noordhoek Peak the path comes out on the jeep track where hikers need to be careful of the ever present mountain bikers coming down at speed. It is better for hikers to get off the road on to the adjacent hiking paths as soon as possible. We found the short cut to the Amphitheatre path on the opposite side of the Silvermine Valley to where we started. This is also a path that I have used often and is particularl

Chapmans Peak in the distance

y impressive for the striking layered rock formations near shelter rock. Silvermine Dam and the car park was now in view, although this is also one of those paths that take a bit long

er than one expects, but the end was in sight, just in time for lunch and quick trip down to the Red Herring in Noordhoek for a beer and a snack basket.

For guided day hikes and overnight hiking trails contact Frank: frank@slackpackersa.co.za – Cell: 082-8824388

 

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Noordhoek Beach to Silvermine, via Chapman’s Peak

I have probably written about this one before, but being one of my favourite hikes it is worth revisiting. The route up Chapman’s Peak was one of the few new paths that were created, specifically for the Hoerikwaggo Trail trekking route, and includes some of the most spectacular views in the whole of the Cape Peninsula.

Sunday was cool but clear, except for some wispy cloud on the tops of the mountain peaks. The wind was moderate, in the south east.  Ten of us, we met at Silvermine Dam to shuttle cars to the start at Noordhoek beach, with the plan to walk back up Chapman’s Peak to Silvermine. The idea of a swim in the dam after a long hike is always a good incentive.

The trail starts with a short walk across the beach towards the rock to your right to find the gap in the dune foliage that indicates the start of the boardwalk. The boardwalk has been constructed over this section to protect the dunes from erosion and provide a comfortable start to the trail as it climbs up to Chapman’s Peak Drive. Steep  wooden steps on the other side of the road lift hikers up a level to start the gradual trek up the abrupt slopes of this iconic summit.

Strangely, although it is continuously up hill, the path has been so well designed that it is not often that you feel you are on a continuous steep incline. There is some gradual contouring and a few very short scrambles and a ridge or two to negotiate, but provided you are not in a rush (and we were not), it is a reasonable hour and half walk to the top. There are plenty of places to stop to admire the views and many photo opportunities that provide an additional excuse to rest. Looking back at Noordhoek  Beach, looking forward to Hout Bay, looking across towards False Bay, South towards Cape Point or up to the summit are all part of the package. The clouds swirling, appearing and disappearing  across the various peaks and valleys added to the spectacle.

Some of the group were a bit faster than others, but we all met at the summit of Chapman’s Peak for a well-deserved rest and a dig in to the various tea goodies that everyone had brought along. Although the route is steep, the height exposure is very moderate, with the path set mostly well back.

From Chapman’s Peak, the path down in to the saddle is clear and easy going, with large stands of Proteas on either side. The orange breasted sunbirds were out in full force on the day, staying still only for enough time for to get the camera switched on and almost focused, before flitting off without the shot being captured.

As the descent in to the saddle comes to an end, Silvermine Ridge looms high above to the east. You look up and the legs already feel weary at the prospect of trekking up to it’s imposing highpoint. Quite a bit higher than Chapman’s Peak, the path to the ridge is a long slow trek. There are no challenging climbs and except for two short rock bands, no scrambles, but for the next hour and a half you will be walking up hill.

At last the white concrete beacon, indicating a high point on the ridge, comes in to view and a welcome rest for a dip in to the lunch box. We had made fairly good time, having started at about 08h30, we were above Silvermine Valley shortly after 13h15.

From here we followed the jeep track for a short while (beware of fast oving mountain bikers) before turning off on to a path leading to the ridge overlooking  Silvermine Valley. It was one of those days that the mist swirls in and out, revealing the beauty of the valley briefly before covering it again with cloud. There are some amazing rock formations on this route, as well as a impressive variety of proteas, ericas and restios along with other fynbos species, including an occasional blue disa, gladioli and pelargoniums.

At last the dam emerged out of the mist and as if inviting us for a swim the cloud cleared and the late summer sun showed that it still had some power. The walk ended with a very welcome swim – good end to another great hike in the Table Mountain chain.

For guided Table Mountain day hikes and overnight hiking trails contact Frank: frank@slackpackersa.co.za

Meridian Hiking Club – Noordhoek to Silvermine

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Caveman’s Overhang

 

Caveman’s Overhang 16042011

We did this awesome route on Saturday with Meridian Hiking Club. We left early from Constantia Nek to join Karen and he hiking club group that had spent the night at Overseers Cottage.

I had done it about three or four years ago with Tim Jenkins, but when I tried to explore the route last year with a couple of friends we ended up at the Hole in the Wall and came back through the hidden forest. That was quite an adventure in itself. It was therefore good to do it with Karen, who knows the route well and also showed us how it links with the Hole in the Wall Route.

The views over Orangekloof are wonderful and scrambling behind the rock faces is quite interesting and surprising in places. There are some slightly exposed paths around the front of the ledge, but in most instances there are alternative routes around the back, where gaps open up unexpectedly in front of you. In some cases you have to look for the entry points and squeeze into places that look a bit inaccessible. Although narrow in places they are easy to get through once you see the route. There are impressive sandstone cliffs above you with some protruding rock overhangs all the way along the route – hence it’s name.

The path is clear in most places, but not always. It is essential to do the route with someone who knows the way. We had tea at the end of the ‘Overhang’ trail, enjoying looking down into Orangekloof and over Hout Bay. The path to the top of the ridge and then down into the valley below is not clear and you really have to look for the cairns. Once in the valley, the path links back to the concrete road and Overseers Cottage around the corner.
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For information on guided day walks and overnight hiking trails in TableMountain contact Frank

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Walking in Constantia – sensational wine walk route explored.

Another stunning wine walk

This was not planned as a walk in the Winelands, but when you look at the views from high above the Constantia Valley and the experience wine tasting at Groot Constantia at the end, this has to rate up there with the best in the world.

Saturday was a stunning early winters day in Cape Town, ideal hiking weather. This, plus the planned route up to Vlakkenberg Peak and the end point in Groot Constantia attracted a big group of Meridian Hiking Club members, plus visitors from Germany (Thomas & Katrina) and the USA (Trika & Kim). The short trek up from Constantia Nek up to Vlakkenberg Nek needs a bit of effort but once into the natural fynbos vegetation higher up the slope it is a real pleasure. The sound of grassbirds, sunbirds and sugarbirds is endless. After the rain and mist of the previous two days, the birds were ready for a bit of sun. Less than an hour up to Vlakkenberg Nek and the one of the three rocky peaks for a tea break and the view overlooking Hout Bay – what a treat. There is a bit of scrambling up there for the more adventurous, but you need to know where to go.

Back to the main path to join the route to Vlakkenberg Peak and the traditional group photocall. The fairly level section from there to join the path down Vlakkenberg Ridge has some stunning Proteas and a display of flowers & fynbos. The real treat (and surprise for those who have not done this route before) is the view over the Constantia wine farms from the top and forest of Silvertrees on the way down. It is a fairly steep path down, a bit tough on the knees but firm underfoot and well maintained. Once in the Silvertree forest it is a real pleasure. Back into Groot Constantia it is short walk past the historic swimming pool and on to Simon’s Restaurant for a drink and a snack. Wine tasting is available and a cellar tour is an option. For those with an interest in history there is an excellent museum in the old manor house.

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