23 September 2010

De Mond: Sterna Trail

Date: 18 September 2010

Location: De Mond Nature Reserve. In the Overberg. Map here.

Walkers: John, Ian, Dorothy & Helen

*** Route plotted here ***

De Mond has a circular day-hike called the Sterna Trail (named after a sea bird) which of course we had to do! So we set off after breakfast, stopping first to watch a hare nibbling the grass near our cottage.

Once again we crossed over the suspension bridge. And as before this left my legs wobbly for a little while afterwards. It's the strangest feeling.

The trail is well sign-posted. We turned right after the bridge, walked upriver for a short distance, then took a left along the road.

The vegetation was a mix of coastal bush and fynbos.

There was quite a lot in flower! Ian and I were sorry that none of the enormous buds pictured bellow right were open yet. We think they're an orchid (Satyrium carneum?) which we would have loved to see in full bloom.

It was nice to see and identify two new glads though: the red lepelblom, Gladiolus cunonius, and the purple Riversdale bell, Gladiolus rogersii.

I think this one is a Doll's Rose, Hermannia concinniflia?

And this an unusual erica. I'm bewildered by how many different ericas there are and not sure where and how to begin identifying the different varieties. [Note to self: new reference book required]

There were ticks! I pulled three of the little opportunists off me. Shudder.

After a way the road turned left towards the coast and we could see the rolling dunes we'd need to cross to get to the ocean.

Along the path here we saw this member of the pea family. It is possibly a brown version of Lessertia capensis? Or some other Lessertia?

This was easy walking in good conditions: still and mild (though overcast). It was great to catch up with my brother as we ambled.

We all stopped to inspect this strange construction. A nest of spiders? A giant caterpillar cocoon? Any ideas anyone?

It wasn't long til we popped out onto the sand dune.

We turned left again, heading up the wide white beach. Shoes came off. There wasn't a soul around and it was very atmospheric with clouds above, and a little sea mist drifting in.

Although the sun was trying to come out!

Dorothy spotted whales so we climbed a dune to get a better vantage point. We saw a few, lolling about just beyond the breakers.

A lone plane flew past overhead. Can you imagine the view from up there?

Further down the beach we passed a couple of fishermen.

After a while the cloud broke up and we saw some blue sky.

An enormous blue bottle had washed up onto the sand. He was 10-15cm long and looked like a dragon. We watched the bullia move in to eat him up. John went in for an extreme close-up of the action.

Eventually we reached the river mouth and skirted past the brush that has been laid down to preserve the dunes, to get to the lagoon.

Beautiful turquoise water!

John was the only one of us who'd remember to pack a swimming cozzie and he braved a swim while we looked on. The water was freezing cold!

I imagine this would be a swimming paradise in warmer weather!

We slowly made our way along the side of the lagoon.

In the shallows we saw several sea slugs (nudibranchs). They were not as brightly coloured as ones found in tropical waters of course, but in muted shades and as big as a hand. Absolutely fascinating and the first time I've seen these in local waters. Dorothy thought they were very creepy.

The final stretch of the walk was back through the salt marshes.

I was completely captivated by the samphire and other salt marsh vegetation that grows on these flats. It was fun to walk on, soft and springy underfoot. And just look at the subtly of the colours!

We nibbled on some of the samphire - it is delicious.

Ian was feeling inspired to replicate these pattern in his ceramics and possibly the colour combinations in a jersey.

There were also daisies and vygies open now that the sun was out.

Wow, this bug couldn't have been a brighter colour. What a cutie!

Soon (too soon!) we were back at the bridge, completing our walk. This was great trail, highly recommended.



Coco said...

Wow - what a fantastic walk. Now you have me itching to go there too - but I suppose dogs are not allowed in the park. It looks quite close to my human's cottage near Agulhas.

Rose&Thorn said...

Thanks for this hike, we're always looking for good Cape hikes. I love this time of year when God's garden is starting to bloom.