03 October 2009

Chapman's Peak

Date: 3 October 2009

Location: Hout Bay

Walkers: Claudia & Helen

**** Route plotted here ****

Today felt like the first day of summer. The temperature was up in the high 20s C and it was bright and sunny. Lovely!

Our starting point for this walk was Chapman's Peak Drive, the last bend before the sharp corner. The road's still closed on the Noordhoek side but fortunately the authorities are issuing day-passes for the Hout Bay side, which keeps this area accessible. I was pleased to see lots of construction work in progress - hopefully the road can be made safe and open again before 2010.

Right near the start of the walk we spotted this peculiar plant. It appears to be a member of the orchid family, possibly Corycium orobanchoides.

We set off. The path headed up towards the Nek. It was a really nice easy climb on stone steps.

The fynbos was looking wonderful - thick and bushy and growing vigorously.

The lower slopes were covered in much of this bright light green conebush, Leucadendron xanthoconus.

The Berzelia lanuginosa was magnificent!

Protea speciosa. I can't resist the fluffy brown beards.

This Selago (or possibly Pseudoselago?) was just coming into flower.

Everlastings. I always though these were Helichrysum, but I've just checked my reference books and I think the correct name for this particular everlasting is Edmondia sesamoides. Aren't they sweet?

The path curved to the right, and as we climbed we could see not only the path we'd just taken below, but also the Sentinel and Karbonkelberg coming into view beyond.

Up here there we patches of pink - small bushes of a rather papery Erica.

We also saw delicate Gnidia pinifolia. (Update: oops, this is actually Struthiola ciliata I think!)

There were also a few spring bulbs around: Spiloxene, Romulea rosea, Geissorhiza aspera...

... and this little darling, which I think may be Geissorhiza juncea...

... and the exquisite Gladiolus debilis.

Before long we'd reached Chapman's Nek, where several paths cross. Our route took us to the right. The path continued to climb at a comfortable pace. Behind us we got a great view of Blackburn Ravine contour path.

Along this stretch were many yellow pincushion proteas, Leucospermum conocarpodendron...

... and a magnificent Mimetes fimbriifolius.

There were many blue-headed lizards sunning themselves on the rocks.

And ants on the path. They were the most enormous ants I've ever seen - at least a centimetre long - and very busy with urgent ant-business.

The views of Hout Bay on this walk are pretty spectacular. Across the bay, above the harbour, we could see the Karbonkelberg and Kaptein's Peak, with Little Lion's Head to the right and the sweep of Hout Bay beach below.

By now the path had more-or-less levelled out to a contour and led us around the side of the hill. We could now see Chapman's Peak itself a little way ahead.

Around here we saw quite a few small flowers growing alongside the path, such as this purple Polygala garcinii and bright orange Erica cerinthoides. There was also Crassula fascicularis, particularly in the rockier sections.

The final climb up the peak isn't difficult, but I found myself struggling a bit, mainly because of the heat. Not smart be walking up a mountain at midday on a hot day. But I'm glad I persevered up, as the views alone were worth it. To the left: Noordhoek, Silvermine and Fish Hoek spread out below, with False Bay in the distance. Wow!

And down below in front we could see the white sands of Long Beach stretching from Noordhoek below all the way to Kommetjie.

There were quite a few people up top - we'd been passed on the way up by a number of trail runners completing the Hout Bay Triple Trouble event. Chapman's Peak was the third peak climbed as part of their 44km route. The winners completed the route in under five hours - that's impressive!

Our pace was a little different. We'd taken it easy on the way up and now we found a little bit of shade and enjoyed a picnic lunch. From our perch we gazed down at Noordhoek and watched the swifts swooping around.

After our rest we made our way back the same way. Down, down, down. This was a very rewarding walk!

(Photos by Helen)

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