Table Mountain – one of the world’s seven wonders of nature – is special in many ways. Some Capetonians believe the mountain takes hold of those blessed with living near its magic. I fell under Table Mountain’s spell the first time I saw it. Its beauty and vistas leave me breathless.
Recently I began hiking “beginning” Table Mountain trails again but honestly some of the mountain’s “easy” hikes seem moderate or even difficult to me. This is primarily because of the steep rocky outcrops, boulder-strewn paths, and granite, slate, and sandstone cliffs. Hiking polls are essential for navigating the mountain’s rocks!
I’m trying to enjoy at least one, 5 to 6+ mile hike on the mountain every week in the company of other hikers who know the mountain and move at my speed. Autumn days in the Cape are ideal for hiking although the mountain is suffering from severe drought and sadly most of the waterfalls are dry.
The hike last week was a loop on the “contour path” from Rhodes Memorial to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and back. It was a glorious Sunday and after rock scrambling in the beginning the trail was rocky but not difficult. Mature and young Silver trees were abundant.
This week the hike was a full-day outing from Constancia Nek to De Villiers Dam returning to Constancia via an interesting formation called Camel Rock. Along the trail, views of Hout Bay, Lion’s Head, Constantia, and Orange Kloof were stunning! Parts of the exposed trail were challenging.
The weather and visibility on Table Mountain are unpredictable and it’s unwise to underestimate the mountain. Things can and often do change dramatically in less than an hour. Even though the day may begin with warm temperatures and blue skies, hikers must prepare for anything and carry rain gear and extra warm clothing.
The wind that blows over the Western Cape – the Cape Doctor – is a force to be reckoned with. Notoriously strong “South-Easters” usually occur during sunny, clear weather. If a South-Easter occurs when there’s a “cut-off low as occasionally happens in the spring and autumn this can cause heavy rains and the phenomenon popularly known as a Black South-Easter”. The raw strength and power of a full-blown South-Easter makes you feel small and humble compared to the forces of nature!
The native flora and fauna (flynbos) unique to the Western Cape and Table Mountain is quite spectacular and the subject of a separate post! The rocky mountain doesn’t encourage a large bird population but birds living in the Fynbos biome are well adapted to their harsh environment. Some interesting birds include the exotic long-tailed Cape Sugarbird, Double-Collared Sunbird, Verreaux’s Eagle, Red-Winged Starling, and Orange-Breasted Sunbird.
Table Mountain is home to several species of snake – some dangerous. The ones to be especially careful of include the puff adder, berg adder, Cape cobra, and boomslang. Luckily I’ve never seen a snake on Table Mountain but with so many rocks they are surely there.
The rocks on Table Mountain are 600 million years old, but the mountain formation itself occurred a mere 60 million years ago. The mountain formed after “millions of years of river-borne sediment piled up on itself and compressed its own weight”. Table Mountain’s age is difficult to comprehend!
This post is dedicated with love to my father and mother who are no longer with me but whose birthdays were June 10th and 11th respectively. They would both appreciate the beauty of Table Mountain.