26 March 2011

The Whale Trail: Day Five

13 March 2011

Location: De Hoop Nature Reserve, in the Overberg

Walkers: Ian, John, Marianne, Rainer, Madeleine, Rob, Rooken, Kati, Michele & Helen

*** Route plotted here ***


See also: Day One, Day Two, Day Three and Day Four.

Trail info here. Map (pdf) here.

The last day of our hike dawned sunny and warm. We didn't have a long distance to cover but we did need to make sure we were at the Koppie Alleen parking area by midday to catch the shuttle bus that would take us back to Potberg. And we hoped to fit in some more swimming. So we packed up straight after breakfast and set off along the cliff-top path.

We passed past several middens: heaps of discarded shells from times when strandlopers wandered these shores. Sometimes one might also find tools and other debris from human activity.

My brother has long been interested in archaeology. Ian, king of the midden!

We passed many shelf rock pools. Unfortunately the tide wasn't right for exploring.

Some of the beaches had a lot of flotsam. This was all rubbish that has washed up onto the sand from the sea. So much plastic :(

It was distressing to see ... although some of it was just surreal.

Other stretches were free of litter... pristine beach, as it should be.

When we came to a sheltered bay we stopped for a swim in the sea. It was the most amazing turquoise blue and just the right temperature to refresh.

And we continued to meander along...

... beach-combing.

This was the first time we'd all walked together as a group. On the previous days I'd ended up walking on my own quite a lot, which I enjoyed too, but it was nice to chat and look at things together.

We stopped to watch dolphins playing in the waves. There were lots of places on this last day's hike that are clearly great whale viewing spots. Doing the hike during whale season must of course add another whole exciting dimension to this hike.

After a while we came to Hippo Pools. This was another fantastic swimming spot where we whiled away an hour.

Then we continued over beach and rock for a short way further...

... until we saw the path leading up to Koppie Alleen. The end of the hike!

We stopped at the "interpretation centre" at around 11am, and had some time to relax and reflect. I was sad the hike was over, but also felt such a sense of achievement to have completed the distance. I had absolutely loved the routine of walking daily and felt quite removed from my normal life. The beautiful scenery and swimming and sunshine had filled me up, and I felt at peace with myself and the world. The hike had been an amazing experience! I hadn't found it enormously strenuous, but after five days I was pretty tired, and looking forward to giving my body a few days' much-needed rest. And a long soak in the bath.

With some time to kill John played around with all the toothbrushes he'd been collecting off the beaches since Noetsie. Sixteen!

Close to midday we meandered up the hill...

... and waited a few minutes for our bus to take us home. Thank you to all my fellow hikers for sharing the experience and making it such fun. Count me in for the next one.



Firefly said...

What a stunning experience this must have been. Pity it wasn't whale season though.

Coco said...

The Food Lady wants to know how you upload these photos while you are on the trail.

Helen said...

Uploaded afterwards, once back at home :)

qeniwait said...

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!


Anonymous said...

What a fantastic account of your hike, there are many tips. We are doing the hike in July and hope to see whales.

Keri said...

Such a great blog and love your writing style. This has been the best taster for the trail - we start on Monday - I am so excited!

Anonymous said...

So great to read this blog - appreciate that you took the time and trouble to post.

Anonymous said...

This really was a good read and very insightful on what to expect. Thank you for taking the time to post it.