Solo Trail Run – Kloof Corner to Silverstream

When I woke up 4:40am this morning, I actually didn’t feel like going to the mountain O_O  I was tired because…life.  Told myself: “Fatima, nothing a mug of Black Insomnia – the world’s strongest coffee, won’t fix’

Dropped my son off (he marshaled today’s ARD 10km race), came home, made morning prayers, sugared koesiesters and drank my coffee and I’m out the house at 6:30am to catch the sunrise at 7am.  Except you can’t see the sun rise from Kloof Corner car park haha.

Get out the car and its warm already and check in with Tracking at 7am, my route and ETA of 9am.  Up Kloof Corner I go and stop to take photos of flowers, run up the zig zag path and stop to take photos of sun that’s already risen and of course, Lion’s Head.  I am surprisingly alone on this route and as it’s not a mugging hot-spot (yet) I’m not concerned about my safety.  Also, I had my whistle around my neck.  Plus, the route is pretty exposed so don’t think it will become a hot-spot.

According to the time stamps on my phone, I went up the steep section in a minute haha.  I carefully run the narrow contour as there are lots of loose stones and protruding rocks so on high alert for these as I don’t want to twist my ankle, trip and fall down the mountain.  There’s also wet sections so walk for a while until my soles are dry.  Water and Sand = very slippery shoes.

I walk the more exposed sections with steps as one wrong move, I’m down that mountain and still no-ne in sight.  Not even passing trail runners.  Still not fearing my safety ^_^  but have to put my camera phone on time in order to take a selfie at the trickling waterfall but that was a fail hehe.

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I didn’t have to take breathers and drank water while walking and only stopped to take photos (of course) and answer the call of nature in the most sheltered spot I could find 😛  This time, I remembered my sunglasses as I’m facing the sun and bugs are flying about in the heat.  I also kept a lookout for snakes but some other rodent with a bushy tail ran across the path.  Initially thought it to be a Dassie but remembered Dassies do not have long bushy tails and Meerkats tails are long and thin.  After some Googling, it turns out that it could very well have been a Mongoose.

My intended route was until Platties and if I had enough time, I would go to Silverstream.  I get to Platties at 7:57am and as I spent a lot of time taking photos along the route, I went to Silverstream (passing hikers at Platties) and arrived at the Waterfall at 8:03.  Running is so much faster than hiking lol.

Lots more photos and attempted selfies on timer and only one runner ran past with her dog as I was posing lol.  Finally sat down to eat my koesiester and enjoy the quiet solitude and the views with only sounds of the birds and the streams.  Bliss!  Utter, utter bliss!  I didn’t want to move but alas, I had to return to reality.

More people on the mountain now and giving way to passing hikers and runners and their dogs.  More photos of flowers and was absolutely livid when I spotted a packet with a Styrofoam container.  I wasn’t going to pick it up (and run with a packet of trash and my water bottles in both hands) until I noticed the broken pieces and realized that one of the animal species on the mountain has eaten into it!  It hadn’t actually occurred to me before that our animals are eating your litter!  Styrofoam!  These are harmful to not only humans, our environment but also toxic to animals!

So I ran the rest of the way with this packet sigh and there’s no bins at Kloof Corner car park which means I have to take this dirt home with me sigh

I wanted to run down Kloof Corner but my knee promptly protested so walked the rest of the way but not before a dog came running up to me and I just knew that he was ‘aggressive’ and stood dead in my tracks as it barked at me.  The owners apologized and insisted that he was friendly and it was a friendly bark but I didn’t believe them.  I was thoroughly not impressed that I didn’t even respond or smile at their apology.

Anyway,  I get to the car park to this (below pic) and complained to the car guard to which he responded that I was the one who parked crappy and told him if he was actually there this morning, he would have known I was the only one there!

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Checked out of Tracking at 9am ^_^

Sigh…will not be doing any mountain adventures for the next 2 weeks because….Life sigh.

Until next time, thank you for reading and ciao for now.

 

 

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Solo Trail Run – Kloof Corner to Silverstream

Silverstream Ravine-Ledges-Traverse

It’s the third time this year that this route is planned and cancelled due to adverse weather conditions and today we couldn’t do the 30m climb as it was too wet so did a variation.  I have to admit that I was a little nervous for the climb as it seemed quite daunting as this route is graded a C2!  The club has done this route before but I haven’t and listening to them talk about it and seeing their photos, it is quite challenging.

When we got to the Car Park at 7am, I first had to find the nearest bush and had another cup of coffee as its cold!  At 7:10 we thought that it’s only going to be 4 of us but the rest starting pulling up and chatted a bit to 2 old hiking buddies who made their way up Platties.   10 of started at 7:20am up Platteklip Gorge onto the contour path (felt a bit strange going up with boots on for a change haha and I pass the 2 ladies hehe) and made our way up to Silverstream Ravine, a couple of meters past the fork and it’s chilly standing still!  Brrrr!  We hike and we regroup, we hike and we regroup and our (my) legs gets scratched by fynbos!  It is a visible path but it’s not a very used one.  Oh yes!  We had a new lady who joined us today and she only started hiking in January and it’s her first scramble!  She did so well that she put the rest of us to shame O_O  Not once did she complain about our pace or how hard the hike was!  She was still smiling 6 hours later!

At one of our breaks, I found a tiny praying mantis on my hiking bag and when I attempted to gently take it off, it climbed onto my finger so had to take a photo of course!  Shaheen was trying to take a close up with me and the mantis but just then it jumped onto my lips so blew it away!  I’m sorry mantis L

Anyway, crossing over the ravine, we found that the rocks were slippery and had to be extra careful and the start of many small scrambles.  The route also becomes steeper and slipperier with several loose stones and I did slip once.  The reed like grass shrubs are also very sharp so have quite a few scratches on my hands with some bleeding hehe.  I also knocked my knee on a rock sigh.  It’s up an awkward scramble while we were waiting at the traverse for the rest of the group; we decided to go check out the 30m climb.

It was beautiful!  (insert love emoji)  It was also very wet!  Wouldn’t even be able to climb that with rope and a harness as our boots would slip.  From where I was standing, I think I would be able to complete that 30m free climb on a dry day 😀

As we were getting wet with the water dripping from above, it was icy cold!  My fingers were paining and my bag was at the traverse so rushed back to put my gloves on.  The fact that my back was wet from sweat and cold water and with the cold wind biting, I had to get some sun!  Eventually some sun and then distraction at the mesmerizing views O_O

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View from the Traverse

Checking out some overhang/cave thingie which was filled with ancient Tahr poop and not noticing once again, I knocked my head sigh.

We had breakfast along the traverse and Shaheen brought her delicious home-made banting bread and not only that!  But her banting brownies as well!  She saved them for me and told me to do as I want with it.  I reluctantly shared (but had 2 slices of the brownies \o/)

Anyway, the rest of the group started to make their way down and when I got up from where I was sitting, I knocked my lower back (rolling my eyes).  Anwar, Shaheen and I always like to chill for a bit before heading down as we take in the views.  New route means new spectacular views of course!

We reluctantly get a move on and we make our way down what is called ‘Ledges’ and we catch up with Rashaad S and new girl but the rest hurry along haha.  They have to stick with us now as they don’t know the route plus required assistance down a few awkward scrambles.

Going down towards the top of Els Buttress/Newlands Ravine, the group is no-where in sight and we cross over the Saddle to the Contour Path and Shaheen really speed up as her knee was not troubling her.

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Silverstream

We stop at Silverstream Waterfall for some photos before heading back to the cars at Platteklip Gorge car park where Rashaad J was sleeping in his car haha.  We were done at 13:05 but only remembered to check out of Tracking at 13:20.  Oops!

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Silverstream Waterfall

Even though we could not do the 30m climb, I am not too disappointed as this route was still a new experience for me and it was still graded a B3 due to scrambles, sheer drops along the traverse plus the scrambles down the Ledges.

I still loved this hike despite the scratches to my hands and legs, knocks to my head, knee and lower back lol  It’s all part of the experience \o/

I’ll be on Lion’s Head after work so will tell you about that in my next blog (I’m taking the easy group to Orangekloof next week)

Ciao for now and thank you for reading.

PS – I wrote this over 2 days.

 

 

 

 

 

Silverstream Ravine-Ledges-Traverse

Doing it for the kids – An Outreach Hike

About a week ago, a friend asked if I or anyone I know will be able to take some underprivileged school kids on a hike and as it planned for a Saturday, I could not assist (my kids have karate) so asked in my hiking club chat and Shaheen volunteered.  Long story short, I could assist after all which worked out great as I could not hike today.  I spent my morning in a mall and felt quite claustrophobic sigh.

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The ones with their hands up, has never been on the mountain before and Miss Shaheen giving her brief ^_^

Anyway, we meet at Kloof Corner and Shaheen briefs the kids about mountain etiquette and opted to sweep and asked me to lead the 29 kids from 2 different primary schools and the rest of the adults were in the middle.  Only about a third of the kids have been on the mountain previously so felt pretty chuffed that we could do this for them 😀

 

Anyway we start around 8:30am but not before Shaheen checks us in with Mountain Safety and Tracking and make our way up Kloof Corner.  I did not know how to pace these kids so started out slow.  They were in hurry so upped our pace ^_^.   It only occurred to me then that I have no idea what knowledge I could share with them!  I can’t name the fauna or flora or the birds!  But I can tell them about Lion’s head and some history behind it.  I can tell them that Table Mountain (flat part) was formed under sea level hundreds of million years ago.

I am also annoyed by all the doggie poo piles but relieved to see no litter at all 😀  I can’t remember any anecdotes from the kids but they were quite amusing to listen to and I was surprised by their intelligence.  We took several water breaks and to keep the group together but the kids weren’t really struggling so challenged them up the steep stretch to the contour path and then they were huffing and puffing and moaning away but they loved it!  I tell them a bit about the routes up the 12 Apostles and point out where the Bos 400 is wrecked and they are loving the views!

 

We had a snack break on the contour path and took several photos of them with Lion’s head in the background but silly me didn’t take the posed photos with my own phone *rolling my eyes* I showed them other fancy pics and had to Bluetooth it to them 😀  After group photos, we now made our way to Platteklip and oh yes!  I taught them ‘Mountain Side’ where hikers/runners pass, we make way for them with our backs to the mountain and I could teach them about ‘Hiker’s Friends’ and lucky for me, another friend informed me why exactly (besides the constant annoyance of being pricked) is that their roots grow to about 5m and quite strong to hold on to J And I told them that King Proteas can bloom to a size bigger than my head.

I show them the route up Kloof Corner Ridge and tell them about the chains and climbs, I tell them about India Venster and the staples and point out the steep climb up Devil’s Peak.  I give them a chance to take photos and wave at the passing cable cars overhead and they are happy J  We see different species of lizards and the kids are enchanted!

I see a Cairn and explain to them what it means and the teacher suggest that they build their own in memory or Uncle Cecil who passed away and previously took some of them on hikes.  R.I.P Uncle Cecil.  Then!  One of the girls (she won 7 academic achievement awards last year) takes out a pizza!  O_O I had to call Shaheen to come and check!  She brings a pizza on every hike that they go on!  Who does that?!  I thought I was bad for bringing koesiesters on hikes but this kid outdo me with a pizza haha!

We then get to the section that is a waterfall in winter and was asked to take them on a Waterfalls hike 😀  I then cautiously climb down to get a bottle thrown in a bush and all along the way, they would pass their empty bottles and packets on to me that soon they would pick up any litter they see J

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Regroup

Passing hikers and trail runners were amused by the kids especially when they were shouting Mountain Side 😀  It was another break at Platteklip before heading down to Tafelberg road.   Lotsa tourists asking for directions up to the Gorge and I show the kids how high up it is and the zig zag path.

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break on Platties

Going down and them nearly falling on top of each other (not literally!) I tell them single file, no-one passes anyone as just one can fall and push everyone else in front of them down the mountain.  I also had to tell them not to jump down the path as it shocks the ankles, twist it and I’m not carrying anyone down lol.  (ok I would but I’m not encouraging these kids)

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going down Platties

We reach Tafelberg Road just before 11am I think and part ways but not before the kids ‘sing-song’ out their thanks to Miss Shaheen and Miss Fatima for taking them on the hike.  I burst out laughing, not because it was funny but because I haven’t heard it in years!

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End of the hike group photo

Their transport was only set to pick them up at 1pm and as Shaheen had another commitment with other kids at 1pm, we didn’t stay around and walked back to the car at Kloof Corner.

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Classic cars

We very much loved taking the kids up and we are now wanting to do Outreach Hikes on a regular basis.  In fact, we are hoping to take an orphanage on a hike next month 😀

Until my next hike, ciao for now and thank you for reading.

Doing it for the kids – An Outreach Hike

Nursery Buttress

When the hike notification came through, all I read was meet at Cecelia car park & Buttress and I assumed that we were doing Spilhaus Buttress and I was like ergh…Spilhaus is my least fave buttress as it’s so short. It was only yesterday that I checked that we are actually doing Nursery Buttress ^_^

The last time I did a Buttress (Els) was 2 months ago! O_O and keeping my concern to myself, I was praying my knee wouldn’t act up as I still feel a kink in it sigh The last time we did Nursery Buttress was 30th November 2014 and it was 30+degrees Celsius that day! Today was almost that hot but I was prepared with frozen water hehe

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So 15 of us met at the car park around 5:50am and after a short briefing we started at 5:50 with an ETA of 12pm. We could have started this route at Kirstenbosch as our club has a permit for free entry 😛 but as the club did Skeleton Gorge down Nursery Ravine last week, we needed variety to the route and we don’t mind the extra walk to the start of the Buttress.

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Going up to the contour path, I was relieved that there weren’t any doggy poo stinking up the route and we really motored up only taking a short breather to regroup and take a photo of the sunrise and then regrouped at the stream. It was a warm quick walk along the contour to the start of the Buttress just past Nursery Ravine and we excitedly make our way up.

I was behind Peter (new guy) when his foot slipped a bit and I hear a loose rock slip and I froze! O_O Nothing major but made my heart race O_O sheesh Nevertheless we merrily make our way up the scrambles and steep climb up the path and being extra extra careful with my clothes getting caught in thorn bush :/ At one point, I dragged a dried out thorn bush at the back of my shoulder and when I tried to pull it off me; the thorns pierced my skin and made me eina lol. I called John’s daughter who was behind me to take it off hehe Along the little traverse, we have a chat with Peter originally from the UK who said he has travelled to over 50 countries but when he came to Cape Town, it felt like home \o/

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We go up my fave part of the scramble which is the most dangerous (most exposed, sheer climb) of the route and my endorphins soaring with adrenaline 😀 until I chose an awkward climb and got myself stuck not being able to move to the side and I wasn’t about to go back down, I called for help. Instead of pulling me up, Anwar orally guided me :/ didn’t help much as I got myself up anyway by using my knee x_x Cardinal rule, don’t use your knee! And this is where I hurt myself a little but keep this little tidbit to myself -_- and the rest of the way up, I put the pressure on my right knee instead.

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Few more scrambles up, enjoying the sublime views along the way with several photos and just being happy J Along one of the scrambles, one of the new guys were below me and I was climbing when I see this dude (forgot his name) almost up my backside and I’m like dooood! Chill, one at a time, you can’t be climbing right behind me lol

¾ of the way up and I am starving! It’s hot and I need some shade and took a 2 minute breather under the first shady bush along the route. Batiste hails from France and we taught him ‘kwaai’ and ‘jits’ meaning awesome. When he returns to Paris, he can tell his people that Cape Town is jits but then Anwar taught him a not so nice colloquialism and we burst out laughing. Us girls attempted to teach him, to say it with his French accent dragging the ‘j’ but no, he said it as is hehe *rolling my eyes*

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We eventually reached breakfast spot at about 8:15am and could take our time in the shade and just chill, eating and laughing and just enjoying each other’s company. One of the new guys (who happened to be the enthusiastic scrambler of earlier) ran out of water and said he could have some of mine (but not all) as it was still slightly frozen and was like drinking nectar in the heat 😛 and it was time for photos in the little ‘window’ close by. After various poses by various models, we see Batiste on another rock and of course, we wanted photos there as well 😀 The faster hikers were already making their way down at this stage. Photos done, we chill some more in the shade and #1 takes out a Lindt chocolate 😛 making up for the fact that she didn’t bring her fantabulous brownies or sandwiches hehe This is also when I have my knee massaged and made it known that it’s not fully recovered from my injury of a few weeks back 😛

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At 10:05 we eventually make our way down Nursery Ravine and my intention was to keep with the group but their pace is too slow for me putting extra strain on my knee and thighs and I pass them as I wanted to get out of the sun as well. I’m in the foresty parts now but still I don’t slow my pace as I’m thirsty and want to sit down and drink water at the contour path and wait for them at 10:30am letting the group know where I am. There’s a group of hikers there and we mostly ignored each other and greet passerby’s. I was hoping for some water to wash my face and neck down but the ravine is dry :/ And I wait. And I wait some more. I’m bored now so get up and explore and take pics. A security guy comes along I ask him what is he patrolling this are for as it’s not a hotspot and he says he is from Kirstenbosch and I tell oh, you checking for permits, well haaties for you as we came from Cecelia forest haha. This is when the group of hikers chats to me as they heard me say hotspot and wanting to know if I know the routes and tell them where the hotspots were.

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30 minutes later, John and his daughter met up with us as they went down Skeleton Gorge and when everyone caught up, we make our way back to Cecelia car park along the contour path. Again my intention was to stay with the group but alas I part them once again and close to the cars, the area reeks of doggy poo (so much for the request that dog owners be considerate) and I reach the cars at 11:50 and I wait but fortunately it was only 10minutes this time 😛 and chatted to a guy who turns out to be from Cape Union Mart hiking ^_^

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Today’s hike was everything it was supposed to be and I absolutely loved it! With the heat bringing out some topless hikers as well 😛  I wasn’t tired (as in my previous blogs, oh I’m so tired all the time) as yesterday I had an afternoon nap and as I was too well rested, I struggled to fall asleep just after 1am with my alarm set for 3:45am hehe

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I am so looking forward to next week’s hike (which I’m hoping it’s going to be the one I requested as I haven’t done that particular route yet) The week after I’m not hiking as my daughter will be having a grading at Karate camp.

So until my next hike, thank you for reading and ciao for now

xxx

Nursery Buttress

For my Ommiedraai hiking friends

My deepest and sincerest condolences and prayers are with you.

As some of you may or may not know, I’ve hiked a few times with Ommiedraai, I’ve volunteered with some of you, I marshalled at your race and just last week, I camped with some of your members (2 of them was with you yesterday). One of your members was my +1 at my own hiking club function on Saturday night, another one of your members joined me on a hike with my club yesterday so the loss you suffered on the mountain yesterday, was my loss as well.

As this is a blog about my hiking life and as I couldn’t even bring myself to upload photos of my own hike yesterday, never-mind blogging about it, I am dedicating this blog post to you (as a form of therapy for myself as well)

As some of you may or may not know, I was involved with the Blinkwater rescue (see my blog  https://myhikingmylife.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/blinkwater-ravine-turned-rescue-mission/) so I have an inkling of an idea what you endured. The shock, the fear, the cold, the chaos and the tears. I also know Post Traumatic Stress after a mountain rescue. I can sort of relate, I can sympathise and empathise with each of one you who was there to witness the tragedy.

 

I was still hiking when I saw the message from Uncle Shahmieg in the Mountain Safety and Tracking group on Whatsapp, ‘Accident, hiker fall call me’ . My heart sank and waited for further updates to come through. ‘Rescue activated’ within 3 minutes. For this to happen quickly, it’s not just slight injuries. 10 Minutes later, ‘skymed activated’. This is serious. Skymed will not be activated for a rescue along the contour path. The how did not matter to me at this time, the who and how serious, is what I needed to know. Knowing better, I knew not to contact Uncle Shahmieg, so made enquiries with those I thought would know. They did not know yet so I waited. My concern was with Uncle Shahmieg especially knowing the calibre hike leader he is and I have the utmost respect for him and this has never happened to him before.

Then the news came through, code blue. I was in shock and my heart bled for those affected. Fortunately, I was not alone and one of your members got to console me. Accidents happen. No matter what precautions are put in place, if it is in the Almighty’s plan, it is your time. I accepted this almost immediately. I explained to her what you all are going through right now and how much our prayers are needed. I informed her not to tell anyone until it’s made known. I saw the messages in the chats about the accident and I couldn’t let them know what I knew. I advised them not to even message those on the mountain as you need to conserve battery life etc. I know that you are focused on the situation at hand.

I was hurting and in a state of shock for your club and chatting to those who knew and I couldn’t get myself to even make lunch for my children. I was in that much of a daze. In the end, I supervised my daughter or I would just mess it up. I asked my +one if he knew but he didn’t at the time. As I was chatting to yet another one of your members (who didn’t know) and as she was joking around and I was in no state to laugh, I explained to her my depression. Chatting to her, helped me.

Members of my club messaged/phoned me as well as they received the news and they too send their deepest sympathies and condolences. One of them know my close relationship with your club and knew this would affect me also. Isn’t she just too sweet?

Only later I remembered that I gave the hike details to another friend and that she was with! I immediately messaged her to ask if she is ok and she appreciated my concern.

The next few days will not be easy. It will take time. It will be a painful reminder every time that you look at the mountain. It does get easier but speaking out of experience, nearly 3 months later, I still feel a slight knot in my stomach. Your accident was different to ours but I still feel anxiety every time I hear a loose rock, rock on another. I still feel anxiety when I do scrambles, fearful that what I pull on is going to break off and come tumbling down. And despite my fears, I carry on hiking. I still do scrambles as accidents happen anywhere and everywhere. If it is your time, it is your time and accept that it is the Almighty’s will and who are we to question?

Uncle Shahmieg, when I messaged you are on Sunday saying that you are the most respected hike leader. This was not just words. I meant it. You really are the most respected hike leader that I know. Your patience, gentleness, knowledge, humbleness and leadership abilities is most inspiring. The motto of your club being ‘if you hike once with Ommiedraai, you are considered a friend’ and I felt this the very first time I hiked with your club.

Easier said than done I know but the best way to conquer your fear is to face your fear. As much as a cliché this is, it is true. To each one of you, keep on hiking. Take that first step. I KNOW you will want to go into a panic attack but the mountain is not out to hurt you.

Last but not least. To Iona’s family and friends. Whenever there is a loss on the mountain, it reverberates throughout the hiking community but the feeling is fleeting as they are faceless and nameless and we carry on with your lives. Not this time though, Iona will forever be remembered.   Iona’s daughter. I am so sorry that you had to witness that. My heart aches for you and I cried the first time I visualised what it must have been like. As a mother and daughter myself, I want to hug you so tight and tell you that everything is going to be alright. Your mom would want you to take care of yourself so please do that for her. Same for your siblings. I am so sorry for your loss.

May you find the peace and contentment in your hearts and the strength to become outstanding human beings as a legacy to your mother.

Take care and much love.

PS…I wrote this over two days

From Momeena (the friend who I gave the hike details to)

You could not have said it any better. I have been struggling to write my experience down but just can’t put it in words. I have to FULLY ENDORSE.. Shamieg is one of the most CARING…CAREFU
LL…CONSIDERATE… Leaders I KNOW….. I’m still struggling to to deal with this as I can hear Shamieg saying….[After breakfast.. . We are going down the contour path… PLEASE BE CAREFULL. My initial thoughts was..who will get“ hurt on the contour path. I’ve been hiking for almost 5yrs and had the pleasure to hike with many leaders and Strong hikers too…. But I have to admit Shamieg is an OUTSTANDING leader in every sense… We regrouped so many times and his famous words you all ok.. Ready to go… Then to crown it all… He has 15 hikers watching him as he raced down to assist Iona…. We all were in a state of panic and he had to walk talk us down,,, I still can’t believe how quick this FREAK accident happened… I am forever grateful to the Almighty for many mercies and for the unselfish comrado .love and care I have experienced with the OMMIEDRAAI Hikers.. You guys are truly AMAZING… Shukran to all that assisted incl Aslam Levy… Sap.. Air Mercy etc… Thank you Fatima… Bestie… Fuzlin… Shireen. For your unselfish concerns…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For my Ommiedraai hiking friends

A very wet Platteklip hike

As I had things do and places to go, I opted for a solo hike and my go-to route is of course Platties ^_^ After the much needed rains we’ve had the last few days, doing the Waterfalls hike (contour path along Tafelberg Road to each waterfall) with the club would’ve been amazing though but I needed to get home ASAP.

With Platteklip being one of the most popular hiking routes in Cape Town, imagine my utter surprise pulling into the car park just before 7:30am with no other car in sight! O_O like whaaaaaaaa?! Where is everyone else??? What now? Do I hike the route alone? Wth am I thinking?! I’m a woman alone, this is a mugging hotspot! Should I turn around and join the club at Kloof Corner?! But they are going to take too long :/ sigh Argh whatevz, I’m hiking and will just update Mountain Tracking and Safety regularly with my whereabouts and that I’m still safe. I left the house with my rain-jacket on so put the rain-cover over my backpack as its drizzling. On with my gloves as well as its cold and I check in at 7:30am with an ETA of 9:30am and notify them that no-one else is there and as I’m typing out this long message, another vehicle pulls up and with a sigh of relief, I know this hiker! 😀 \o/

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For the first time ever! This route is empty! Even doing a midweek solo hike while everyone else is working, hoping I was going to have the mountain to myself, I pull up to a car park with busses full of tourists :/

Anyway, we start the route at 7:35am and Nazeem tells me that it’s his first time hiking in 2 months. Just a note, that it seems that he only does Platties. He will do Platties every Sunday training for hiking challenges but he will throw in variety here and there…like doing Lion’s Head, Devil’s Peak and Platties in one day hehe (3 Peaks Challenge) so there’s no hope of me keeping up with him but at least I’m not sole alone hey!

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Anyway, so ok you haven’t hiked in 2 months but let’s see what your muscle memory says and off we go up a very tranquil Platties hike (Still amazed by this fact that there was no-one else on this route) and I’m already taking photos as though I haven’t done this route a dozen times already hehe but the difference was all the water! With gushing waterfalls and streams and spring flowers starting to bloom. I stopped to take a lot of photos with Nazeem ahead now and trying to catch up with him until I started breathing like someone having a panic attack (without the wheezing) and my thighs protesting out of exertion. The last time I did Platties, I thought my legs would be sore a few days later but wasn’t hehe

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Before the halfway mark, I gave up trying to catch up to him as I had to drink water, blow my nose, get my heartrate and breathing back to normal and take more pics. I was crouching to take a pic when I fell over backward on my buttocks and as my touchscreen is too slippery when wet, I didn’t even get a photo of the puddle. Sigh but moving on, Nazeem is nowhere to be seen now and upwards I trudge with the wind becoming stronger and chillier and it’s still a steady rain. My yoga pants is soaked and the wind feels like ice on my legs and my fingers are paining from the cold (even though I am wearing albeit, now wet gloves).

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Closer to the top, gusts of wind threatens to throw me over and water is now running down into my boots soaking my 2 pairs of socks lolz. I finally reach the peak and Nazeem tells me to hurry up as I’m still taking photos hehe

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We have a quick coffee, koesiester and photo break when the call of nature called. Like really?! Now?! In the rain! Fortunately no-one else was about so quick I went to find a tree O_o uhm…ohkay I’ll leave the wording as is hehe

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We make our way down and it’s all squishy in my boots and I’m still taking pics. Finally! We see a father and son and warn them about conditions further up with another 2 of their party still coming up. Just below the contour path, we encounter tourists in jeans and tommy takkies and they do not look at all prepared for conditions to come when Nazeem advised them rather not to go up but follow the contour path back to the Cable car.

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We are both soaked so didn’t even avoid crossing this stream but walked through it. T’was fun!

bloodless hands
bloodless hands

We check out at 9:45am and actually did a good time.

Hiking in the rain is so much fun though! No matter how many times a route is repeated, each experience is different (just check my previous Solo Platties hikes hehe)

Take one turn on Tafelberg road and the tar is dry! That’s Platteklip for you. Cannot rain anywhere else on the mountain but just a bit of thick cloud over Platties and rain there shall be.

may have gotten some frostbite :/
may have gotten some frostbite :/

Until my next hike, ciao for now.

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A very wet Platteklip hike

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

Up Skeleton Gorge down Nursery Ravine