12 August 2010

Swellendam: Hill off the Appelbos Road

Date: 7 August 2010

Location: Swellendam

Walkers: Ian, Helen and Nunu

*** Route plotted here ***

We woke to a change in the weather: it was a cold and misty morning. So we decided to head straight out for a walk before the rain arrived. We drove just out of town on the Appelbos Road. Leaving the car on the side of the road, we headed up through the fynbos, to climb a small hill.

There was a lot of this pretty Erica on the slopes, in white and pale pink.

We turned off the main track and took a path that lead us into the pines.

Usually one would get fabulous views across to the opposite hill with its tall communication tower, and down into the town, spread out below. But not today! What we did have is the sounds from the Canolafees, in full swing down in town. We could hear the PA and piped music all the way along this walk. It was a bit surreal. Trompoppies! Lekker-lekker! Achey-breaky heart!

Struthiola ciliata was growing everywhere. I love these spindly flowers.

We also saw this Penaea, probably Penaea mucronata.

We turned right onto another jeep track and headed up towards the small rocky outcrop ahead.

Behind us were more forested slopes.

Under the gum trees we found puffballs, a type of fungus. Ian collected a few to use as a dye. Nunu scratched at them until they puffed - she thought this was super fun even though the spores made her sneeze.

Before long we were picking our way through the rocks on the final ascent to the top of the outcrop. A short and easy climb.

Here we found many aloes nestling between the rocks.

On top: a tree. It looked very dramatic against the threatening sky.

We took a few moments to take in the view below.

In the other direction, across the valley, we could just make out the indigenous forest, Koloniesbos, where we've walked previously. On a clear day the mountains would be towering above, but the mist was so thick and low they were completely hidden. This made us feel as if we'd scaled the highest peak in the area!

We turned around and headed back down, this time taking a different cross path through the pines. Some of the trees had male cones. When we shook the branches they released a cloud of pollen.

Soon we were out of the plantation and back in the fynbos.

We spotted some beehives on the slope. Bees seem to love Metalasia which was growing in abundance here. I think it is this plant which gives fynbos honey its very particular and strong smell.

The Erica was very beautiful up here too.

There were a few spots of yellow: leucadendrons and bietou daisies.

I was also very happy to see a babiana. This is probably the common one, Babiana ambigua. There were only a couple in flower but many new plants. In a few weeks this hillside will be spectacular.

As we walked down the hill we got a glimpse down to Appelbos farm. A horse run up from the farm, all the way up the hill to the tower, watching us all the way. We turned down the road and headed back to the car. Shortly afterwards the heavens opened and it rained and rained.


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