A couple o’ weeks ago, at the end of a rather wet winter’s week, we were eager to get out into the world of nature once more. We thus met up with L and V and their little girl N (with whom we had recently picnicked at Green Point Urban Park and walked from Newlands Forest to Kirstenbosch and from Constantia Nek to Kirstenbosch) at the parking area near the Silvermine reservoir. As they hadn’t walked in this area for a long time, we were planning a hike up to the Elephant’s Eye Cave (previous hikes describes here and here). After all, this is one of the most well-known routes in the reserve, and the views from up there are particularly rewarding on a clear day.
Unfortunately, the weather had other plans. Even though we had someweatherproof clothing with us, and Little N was warmly dressed and snugly tucked up in her sling, we were definitely not equipped to deal with the blustery wind, the billowing fog and the damp drizzle that was apparently waiting for us higher up the mountain. As a result, we decided to go for an easy level stroll around the reservoir instead. Nonetheless, it was decidedly chilly out there, with banks of grey fog sweeping in across the western ridge, and threatening a thorough drenching any moment. Brrrrr…
By the time we had wandered around the circumference of the reservoir, however, patches of blue sky were emerging from the grey, and we didn’t quite feel like ending our hike just yet. So we followed the signs down to the River Walk. The last time we had followed this route, in March and then again in April), there had been no river to speak of at all. Dusty grey leaves and squelchy mud, yes, but no burbling streams or splashy pools.
This time, however, we were rewarded with the glorious sight of water rushing across mossy rocks, flowing around sturdy tree-trunks and carving its way through rain-softened earth. There was even a sensational waterfall, where I got completely engrossed by playing around with different apertures and shutter speeds.
By now, the sun had come out fully, and it had turned into one of those perfect sunshiny winter days with a luminous blue sky and twinkling mist-droplets on leaves creating that refreshing “just washed” look.
Oh, and we were hungry. Fortunately, the most perfect picnic place awaited us on the opposite side of a bridge with a weir from a small and tranquil dam. We later noticed a sign that announced this as the Uthango Group Braai Area– “by reservation only”. Er, oops. We also saw signs pointing to two other venues that could be booked, namely, the Yellowwood Corporate Braai Area and the Doringboom Group Braai Area. All of them look like superlative venues for a group braai.
Tummies pleasantly full with bread rolls, croissants and tea, we made our way back to the parking area by following the main access road through the fynbos. Now is clearly a good time of year to see lots of flowering proteas! Suddenly, something caught my eye – a bird of prey sitting on a branch high up among a stand of young trees. With its yellow eyes, grey head and barred red-brown front, I think it was an African Goshawk. It sat on its branch, not moving, hardly blinking, and transfixed me with its stare. It commanded respect – and received it.
What an awe-filled moment to conclude our hike in peaceful Silvermine Nature Reserve.