Woodstock Cave during the Black South Easter

I suffer from a case of FOMO! Fear of missing out on a hike and had every intention of doing Blind Gulley with the club despite my knee having not fully recovered from my injury two weeks ago…I was loathe to injure it further but as I stated, FOMO. Physically (and by that I mean my knee) I was not keen on such a long hard hike with scrambles but mentally I was putting positive energy into the universe that nothing goes wrong as walking with crutches is utterly horrible!
So anyway, I popped in at my good ‘ol friend Suzanne better known as Zee and she said she is keen on hiking but an easy one as she is totes out of it and her knee has been giving her probs as well. Hellz yeah, let’s do this! Route and time to be decided later…

Lions Head – no!
Platteklip – too hard
Devil’s Peak? uhm…naaaaaaah
Newlands contour? too easy – Rhodes contour? Too easy…
She did Cecelia Forest two weeks ago so no
Constantia Nek- hellz no!

I know! Woodstock Cave via Oppelskop! (Note that I’ve never done Oppelskop before and how difficult can it be as it’s an easy hike) and in my mind, going down to the contour path via Minor Peak…to add a tad bit of hardness…Zee to decide on the time so agreed to pick me up at 6:30am
I knew it was going to rain today and woke up to rain and as its November, I didn’t expect it to be much and to clear up as it usually does….famous last words

Calm before the storm!
Calm before the storm!

We arrive at Devil’s Peak car park and it’s not raining but the mist is VERY thick and heavy so debated whether or not to put on our rain gear so put it on just in case and put my rain cover over my bag. I check in with Mountain Safety and Tracking at 7:10 with our route and ETA of 10am. Michael asks me if it’s raining and said yes but its more thick mist than anything else and my words wasn’t even cold yet and a downpour happens! Anyway, no biggie and onwards and upwards we trudge and can barely hear each other it’s raining so hard now…

wind wrecking havoc on these petals
wind wrecking havoc on these petals

At the first fork, we see the Oppelskop route and it wasn’t my intended route (but higher up) but said ok, let’s do it. The wind also starts picking up drastically but still no biggie. We hike and have a big fat catch up on our lives (which we only do every few months on a hike haha) The route is taking longer than expected and can’t see anything and fear that we may have missed the route going up and told Zee that the sign-board lied to us lolz. (Not that I know this route anyway and as I can’t see our surroundings, I don’t know how high or low we are) We finally see another sign board going up and I assume this is where we want to be (first mistake) We then see Oppelskop lookout and oh, that’s where it is and I assume that the route will take us to cave somehow and turn right (second mistake) If I could just see the mountain, I would know with confidence which way to go. But what the hey, it’s a new route to both of us and there is no chance that either of us will get lost anyway. We will eventually see familiar surroundings…

my boots are soaked!
my boots are soaked!
Oppelskop view point
Oppelskop view point

Along the route, there is a drop and won’t a strong updraft nearly blow us over! I stop and hold onto a boulder with Zee using me as cover lolz as she is much lighter than me. And I was like woah! What happened there?! Was that just a hurricane?! This happened again when we experienced updrafts. Hectic!
Oh yes, by this time, both our boots were soaked as the water was running into them despite it being waterproof and I regret wearing yoga pants instead of my cargo pants and reprimanded myself for not bringing my rain suit – really didn’t expect this bad turn of weather! And yet as a Capetonian hiker, we must always be prepared for change of weather and neither of us had a set of spare dry clothes. I always have my all weather top in my bag though and would change into that once we reach the cave.
Oh yes, at one stage, Zee is trying to put on her rain pants and it occurred to me to help her, but it was more amusing watching her struggle until she said ‘yay! Help me’ and I tell her that I was thinking of rather taking a video lolz
The route eventually takes us to the Saddle and I’m like hey! This is not where we are meant to be! Ok these are our option, go over Minor Peak or go back down…it’s only 8:30am and neither of us is keen to be done at 9am so up we go! I’m wondering how the club is doing and check the Safety group so take it the weather isn’t as bad the other side of the mountain and other hikers abandoned their hikes.

Going up this route was horrible! The rain cutting our faces with black south easter winds! At this stage I contemplated turning back but Zee wanted to go up and she hasn’t been to the cave before so wasn’t going to disappoint her. I am also stronger than her so hike ahead most of the way up but wait on her when she is out of sight. I sit down for shelter from the wind each time.  At this stage I’m thinking that this is like a movie where two hikers are caught in an unexpected storm in the middle of nowhere and we just have to endure and get through it.  Except this isn’t the movies but real!  And we know where we were…Zee had exactly the same thoughts when I told her this later haha

Get to Minor Peak and there’s gratefully more shelter but still in the open so I’m shivering now. I shiver the rest of the way. It is the first time that I shiver whilst hiking. Shivering standing still is normal. I just want to get to the cave now and get out of my wet clothes. My rain cover was heavy with a puddle of rain lolz. My intention was to put on my gloves in the cave when we are still.
We get to a fork and I don’t know which way. Go straight ahead or down. Both ways looked familiar and as we still can’t see our surroundings, I can’t say with confidence which way. I go straight and around the bend I’m like no, this path is going to take us to the fire lookout at Rhodes! Not where I want to be so turned back and went down. Yip! This is the right way. And just then it clears up slightly and I’m like ‘OMG Zee! That’s Oppelskop! If we just continued along the route instead of going up we would have missed out on our Recce hehe. I could kick myself nonetheless. Zee kindly told me to not beat myself up about it.
At another fork, I’m again unsure and still can’t see the mountains so first have to check the route and decide its wrong and turn back again and yip! This is the right way until I knew we weren’t far from the cave and its nearly 10am and our ETA was 10am :/


With much relief! I see the cave and rush up and it’s not as smelly as the last time as the cold windy rain may have cleaned it a bit…First thing I do is take off my wet top and sleeves and I’m shaking more than shivering! I’m struggling with my all weather top as it’s inside out and my fingers are sore and stiff and ask Zee to help me and she can’t either as her fingers are stiff too.
I have never been this cold before in my life! My lips are swollen and inside of my cheeks are swollen and talking funny.  I tell Zee it feels as though I botoxed my lips and Zee tells me it looks like I botoxed them!  I can’t even smile properly for a photo lolz

so cold! so so very cold!
so cold! so so very cold!

A study has proven that Capetonians feel the weather 2 degrees colder than the rest of the world and I’m convinced that I feel the weather 2 degrees colder than the average Capetonian! A few people have asked me if I have ice running through my veins when they feel my cold fingers. I thought hunting for snow in the Fast last year was the coldest but today topped that!! I eventually get the thing on and Zee tells me to use my space blanket and I’m uhm…I haven’t replaced mine yet…She asked when did I use it and said Blinkwater lol My gloves were soaked, my bag was soaked but most of my contents are in Jiffy bags so at least my towel is dry!

“Don’t go chasing waterfalls’ – whatever!

She gives me hers and wrap the space blanket under my top and on with my rain jacket as well but I’m still shaking so much that I kept spilling my coffee! I then pace the cave up and down (not the whole cave as it stinks of urine!)
I have to update Tracking that we are in the cave at 10:40am and I can’t type :/ I then send them a voice-note that we are there and it’s cold and windy and I could hear the shiver in my voice when I replayed it to myself!

hey! that was not there when we entered the cave!
hey! that was not there when we entered the cave!

We didn’t stay long as we were both too cold and I struggle to put my gloves on. It may not be dry but will protect my hands from the cold wind. We backtrack out of the cave and Whoa! Waterfall right on the path we need to exit! Ag whatever, we are both soaked anyway and the rain abated so can see the city now.

Zee dodging the water along the path
Zee dodging the water along the path

Zee’s knee is acting up and I actually forgot about it (insert embarrassed emoticon) and we take it slow and easy as I know exactly how painful it is!
When we are below the mist, it was hard to believe we were in a storm not too long ago and the city looks sunny and dry!

if only we took this path up sigh but then we would not have a recce!
if only we took this path up sigh
but then we would not have a recce!

On Tafelberg Road, the rain made crap with my touch screen and had to register my details. Ag whatever! I’ll sort it out later so couldn’t take more photos (not that I took many as we hiked most of the way with our head down anyway)

Was it really storming?
Was it really storming?

Within eyesight of the car, we were both limping slightly and laughed at ourselves. Zee asked me to drive so she could rest her knee and it wasn’t a prob for me. As my phone was still on the registration screen, Zee had to check out and it was just after 12 I think. The 3 hour easy peasy hike turned into 5 hours (oops!) I felt guilty for putting Zee through that and I’m sorry Zee! My feet are numb and my toes are paining. And I see this odd blister like rash on my hands and Zee suggested poison ivy as she doesn’t have a rash. Anyway I ignore it and drive with numb feet and sore toes!

Zee too cold to smile for the pic
Zee too cold to smile for the pic
my best smile through 'botoxed' lips
my best smile through ‘botoxed’ lips

After showering and stuff, Im laying under covers and my fingers and toes are still cold and I want to nap but my feet are burning with pins and needles and thinking I may have frost bite so googled the symptoms. Uhm, I may have a slight case but my skin is not black or blue (soles still hasn’t got colour) nothing is numb any longer and the rash is gone as well but my feet are still tingling (burning) Doctor google says I must see a doctor but I seriously (hopefully) doubt it’s that bad..
I was shocked to see the aftermath of this morning’s storm at certain areas in Cape Town and thought it was restricted to the mountain! As it usually does…wrong again! May I never hike in such weather again!
Was an adventurous story to tell anyway 😀
Until my next hike, ciao for now 

PS 7 hours post shower, still burning/tingling in my feet :/ few of my fingertips slightly sensitive to the touch sigh

Woodstock Cave during the Black South Easter

3 thoughts on “Woodstock Cave during the Black South Easter

  1. So we were not alone on that side of the mountain. We did the same route as you but used the contour path that passes on top of the cave instead of the one below. We took a turn at the King’s Blockhouse to get back to Tafelberg Road. The rain was enjoyable though a bit cold.

    Liked by 1 person

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