In the middle of May, the week before Tanya (Richard’s sister from Windhoek) came to visit us in Cape Town, we had walked the reservoir circuit and hiked along the Crags at the Silvermine Nature Reserve (see The Silvermine reservoir circuit and along the Crags). As Tanya hadn’t ever been to this reserve, we were very keen to show it to her.
So, the day after we returned from our mid-week break in the mountains of Swellendam (click on the link to read more about that little adventure), we packed our rucksack and headed south into the mountains of Silvermine.
We set off along the jeep track from the parking lot.
We took the steep shortcut directly up the mountain, following the route markers towards the Elephant’s Eye.
After some time, we came to a cluster of pine trees at the top of the ridge.
From up here, we could see across an expanse of fynbos and down onto the Cape Flats below. The weather was perfect, with none of that smoggy heat haze we had experienced the week before.
The stony path led steadily northwards. We reached a stream, that was cascading right across the path. Richard, the only one with waterproof boots, leapt across to the other side, where he found a large stick that he tossed over to us. It was easy to ford the stream by using the sturdy stick for balance on the wobbly river stones.
As usual, I got distracted by the plant and bird life en route.
I’m not a hiker who likes to stride along without stopping, except to catch one’s breath. I don’t see the point in charging straight up the mountain and back down again. If I want to walk fast, I might as well walk around the block five times! Or to walk/run on a treadmill for an hour – Oh! how awful! Can’t think of anything worse.
No, when I’m out in nature, I have to – need to – make time to look, to smell, to touch, to feel, to listen, and to experience life in all its manifold glory. Yes, and of course to take photographs.
My blogfriend Kathy is always writing about the importance of slowing down, like she does here. Sensible advice, in my view.
But don’t take this to mean that I crawl along like a sluggish snail, photographing every single thing I see.
No, I can motor along quite nicely if I set my mind to it – even more so if a pleasant picnic awaits somewhere at the top! 😉
We soon reached the fire lookout hut.
Can you imagine sleeping up here? And waking up to such a view? Wow.
From the stone hut, we could see the so-called Elephant’s Eye cave, literally a big hole in the side of the mountain.
A marker led us to the right little track up and up and up towards the peak.
Can you see the fire lookout hut on the top of that little ridge? And below are the dark green forests of Tokai and Constantia.
The path zigzagged steeply upwards. That dark opening in the cliff face up ahead is the Elephant’s Eye Cave.
At last, we came to an intersection. This time we took the route to the Cave, but next time, I want to go up to the Constantiaberg!
Oh my, what a view.
We reached the mouth of the cave.
A little shower of droplets was raining steadily down from above; I’m not sure where these come from, but it must have rained here the day before. Richard looked so tiny against the huge opening.
We found a dry spot to sit at the entrance, from where we could admire the view. We unpacked our picnic of apples, energy bars, crackers and water, and sat peacefully on the rocks, allowing the tranquility of this ancient place to seep into us.
Richard, who loves caves, used the opportunity to scramble all the way to the back of the cave, where it was as chillingly cold as sitting in a butcher’s cold storage rooms. Brrrrr…. The roof of the cave at the back was covered in green ferns, which had somehow, mysteriously, anchored themselves up there and found enough sustenance in the rocks to grow and flourish.
Shortly after us, a little family, made up of Mommy and Daddy, a really sweet little boy and a just as cute little girl, all accompanied by their dog, arrived at the cave. We got to talking, as one is wont to do, when encountering friendly people on the mountain.
It turned out that Christine, for that was her name, was (is, I should say) a writer too! In fact, she was in the process of publishing a book about travelling in South Africa. I don’t know what it is called, as I forgot to ask her, but you can check out her website, which is called Coast to Coast: it is described as “a backpackers’ guide to adventure and accommodation in South Africa”. Brilliant, isn’t it?
We chatted about the challenges of having your writings published, and whether it is better to go the route of self-publishing (which is what I did), the mechanics of doing the layout and formatting yourself, and the importance of finding a good printer, and the difficulties of marketing one’s book once it has been published (yes, I could attest to that). It was such a serendipitous moment of synchronicity!
After losing track of time for a while, we realised that we were getting cold. We’d been so hot and sweaty after our climb, that we hadn’t noticed how cold it was, even just at the mouth of the cave. My teeth were starting to chatter. So we quickly made our goodbyes and embarked on our descent.
And pretty soon we found ourselves on the shortcut down to the jeep track.
I took a final macro shot of those white flowers at the side of the track.
We followed the jeep track down and did a brief detour to the reservoir, which we wanted to show Tanya too.
Look at this – I think it is a King Protea (Protea cynaroides).
And that was the end of another fantastic hike. We are so blessed in Cape Town, with the mountains and forests and all their hiking trails just right on our doorsteps. We really should get out there as often as we can.