Up Skeleton Gorge down Nursery Ravine

So yesterday was my son’s 19th Birthday and today is my daughter’s 15th Birthday.  It was not planned this way and they were both born in a leap year.

This year was the first time that they spent their birthdays away from me and I took it harder than expected.  I did not get to sing them awake with ‘Happy Birthday’ to you, as I do every year!

I was up at 4:40 this morn after 5 hours sleep and I was full of energy!  It was the first time in forever that I performed morning prayers without them and I missed them.  My mood was set for the day…

Anyway, my lift came to pick me up at 5:45 and as we got onto the M5, we saw the huge fire out Silvermine side but couldn’t pin point exactly where as it was still dark out.  We first drove to Rycroft gate (Kirstenbosch) and then were picked up to drive to Newlands Forest station where we started our hike to Skeleton Gorge via the contour path.

Since Kirstebosch started charging Runners and Hikers alike, we avoid these routes as they charge R50 just to pass through!  It use to be free before 7am.  Up and down Skeleton Gorge and Nursery Ravine is generally 4 hours at an easy pace so to avoid paying this fee, the option would be via Cecelia Forest which adds another hour to the hike.  We chose via Newlands Forest which adds another 2-3 hours.

Fortunately for us, our club president obtained a permit which give members free entry into the Gardens ^_^ It wasn’t easy for him though as it took many emails to and fro and several follow up phone calls.  His perseverance and tenacity paid off and we are grateful J

As I was in a ‘mood’ I hiked ahead most of the route.  In my own thoughts, distracting myself with the scenery and pushing myself in order to concentrate on my breathing rather than dwell on my kids.  I did wait on the group time to time though.  If I didn’t, I would’ve not seen them at all haha.

Yellow light
Yellow light

The light looked different as the sun rose with a tinge of yellow and can only assume this was because of the fire.  When there was a fire at Hout Bay not too long ago, the sun was red! And didn’t know at the time it was because of the fire.

It was my first time hiking this way to Skeleton and got to experience the scenery from a different perspective once again.  One of the sign boards was almost completely hidden by shrub and when you turn around, there’s a path going directly to a huge boulder!  Harry Potter much?

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Platform 9 3/4

Then I saw a tree which fell over and obligatory pics ensued as we (the women) climbed on the tree, shimmied forward for our poses 😀

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Nature never ceases to amaze me!  For years, I would wonder, what exactly are in these cocoons until one day while hiking Rhodes contour path to Newlands, a spider was in a battle stance!  I checked the audacity of this spider as if I couldn’t squash it with my boots! But I am not that evil, I don’t kill bugs/insects etc in its natural environment.  Encroach in my own space however, then its haaties.  Oh yes…I googled this spider until I discovered that it’s a Rain Spider and they are the ones making the cocoons J

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Rain Spider battle stance
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Rain Spider cocoon

When we reached the Waterfalls at Skeleton Gorge (2 hours later), I was shocked to see no waterfall!  I have never seen it this dry! The last time we did this hike was in the middle of winter, after a storm the night before and someone decided to River Surf haha (We entered free via Kirstenbosch that day 😛 )  Branches were scattered across roads, some which were flooded but when we did this hike, no rain whatsoever haha!  Check the comparison pics J

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Waterfall? where?!
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Now this is a waterfall! last winter
River Surfing
River Surfing

My lift parted ways at this point and went off to Rycroft gate where her car was parked.  I hiked ahead up the gorge, passing a few hikers, the mist getting thicker and thicker the higher I got.  I took it all in.  The solitude, the birds chirping, the trickles of water flowing down the gorge, some alien movement somewhere which made my heart beat faster.  Passing a few hikers, hikers passing me as I was taking pics, greeting each other.  Then I came to the ladders…I don’t remember there being so many ladders!  When did that happen?

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more ladders!
more ladders!
more ladders!
more ladders!

Also a new warning sign. where are the ropes though?

new warning sign
new warning sign

When we did this hike after the storm, we couldn’t go much further than the ladders as the water was gushing down the gorge and going straight up was impossible.  We then took a detour to the left up the gorge which provided us with yet again a new experience and scenery 😀 Crossing over to the normal path higher up, our pressie picked up a huge heavy log in order to make it easier for us to cross the gorge.  I love this pic!

working together as a team
working together as a team
Skele detour
Skele detour

When I arrived at this point, I waited on the rest as I was now about 10-15 minutes ahead. Chatted to a 70+ year old who has hiked Killie, Base Camp, Inca but to name a few but has never done a Buttress or Ridge as he is afraid of heights.  I get a phone call and was told that they made a decision to turn around as one member was struggling.  I said I would go ahead by myself and find my own way home.  I was hiking by myself most of the way and didn’t mind continuing on by myself.  At this stage, I actually wanted to be alone.  I would go to Cecelia, walk to Wynberg and take a taxi home from there 😛 but then they decided to come up as we are group and leave no man behind.  When they caught up with me, I hiked ahead once again and waited for them on top of breakfast rock.  It was cold!  I detest putting on more clothes for warmth as I’m just gna take it off whilst hiking but it was too cold so had to put on a jacket which I took off again 15 minutes later anyway.

Breakfast view
Breakfast view

Breakfast was koesiesters, bollas, birthday cake, sandwiches, fruit, nuts and sweets before moving over to Nursery Ravine and make our way down.  The Ravine was a field of King Proteas!  I was amazed as I have never seen this many all at once!  I could eventually also see civilization after being so long in the mist J and I was again alone….

King Protea
King Protea
Field of Proteas
Field of Proteas
hint of civilization
hint of civilization

Further down the ravine, the path looked different and thought it must have been with last year’s rains as the entire way down was a stream of water.  Then I saw two paths, one new and one old and that’s why it looked different!

2 paths!
2 paths!

I eventually decided to wait on the rest of the group on the contour path.  My imagination in overdrive as there were scratch marks on a boulder I was sitting on.  Zombie attack?

scratch marks!
scratch marks!

20 minutes later! Also during this time, an 83 year old hiker came by and has been hiking for more than 30 years.  He has come down the gorge 168 times!  He keeps a record of every hike he has ever done!  I have visual records on Facebook and maybe one day I will count my albums and know how many hikes I’ve done in the past 6 years (routes that are repeated, sometimes goes in the same album) then I can also say how many times I’ve been up and down certain routes haha

Not far along the contour path, I again hike ahead and don’t see the group until they reach the cars at about 1pm.  It took me an hour to reach the cars from Skeleton Gorge and it took them 1.5 hours.  I only stopped to take pics and to explain to 2 hikers what Cairns are. Hikers or maybe trail runners as well, will pile stones on top each other at certain points along a path to be used as landmarks.

Cairn
Cairn

I eventually get home to do the laundry and wait for my kids so that I can have birthday cake and desserts I made for them!

Until my next hike, ciao for now J

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Up Skeleton Gorge down Nursery Ravine

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