11 January 2012

Silvermine: Kalk Bay Mountain

Date: 8 January 2012

Location: Silvermine East (from Gate 2)

Walkers: Claudia, Brenda, Helen, Delphi, Didi & Marie

*** Route plotted here ***

The weather forecast was for a hot day so we gathered early (6.30am!) planning to get our walk done before we melted or burnt to a crisp in the summer sun. But nature had other plans and we arrived to find Silvermine breezy and enveloped in thick mist. How odd and unexpected... although not really, as we know Cape Town weather is strange and unpredictable. We decided to proceed on our chosen route anyway and set off - straight along the jeep track, across the Old Fisherman's Path and back onto the road - all the while wondering when the cloud was going to burn off...

... but no. We walked into thicker and thicker cloud, and it was with us for almost the whole walk. It was damp and cool but not cold. Being enveloped in the mist cocoon, with no views to distract us, made it very easy to focus on the fynbos and flowers.

Many varieties have hairy leaves which hang onto every drop of moisture from the mist. They love these conditions!

Flowers seen on the first section of the walk: Aristea africana.

Tritoniopsis parviflora.

Agapanthus africanus. Always a thrill to see this in the wild.

Saltera sarcocolla.

Serruria villosa. Common name: golden spiderhead.

Pseudoselago spuria. Common name: powderpuff.

Liparia splendens. Mountain dahlia.

And some more Aristea africana, this one pale and interesting.

After a while we reached the turn-off to our right to Kalk Bay Mountain, via Speciosa Valley. Couldn't see where we were heading at all, but the path was clear enough, so we walked on into the gloom...

... and a pretty easy climb up the slope. Every now and then we could hear the sound of the sea in the distance.

Some of the flowers seen hereabouts: Chironia baccifera.

Silene, although I'm not sure which one.

Diastella divaricata. Common name: silky puff. Adorable.

This looks like a Stilbe. No flowers at the moment.

Hmm, I can't work out what this one is. It's a wonderful shape.

These next photos aren't terribly good (it was hard to take good photos with the breeze) but I have included them here as the flowers are so interesting. Bright yellow Microdon dubius (a new one for me!), pink Muraltia eracoides (a guess), white Gnidia oppositifolia (another guess) and pale yellow-green Erica urna-viridis. All so tiny and delicate!

We also saw this strange beast. Is it a grass? succulent? alien life form?

Once we were on top of the mountain we followed the path through the rock formations. They looked so eerie in the mist!

We passed the entrance to Tartarus cave. Didn't go in. Maybe another time.

Along the plateau, to the beacon marking the summit of Kalk Bay Mountain. It was suddenly very chilly and exposed just here, so we quickly walked on, heading down the other side.

Lots of very happy Hermas villosa in flower amongst the dead things (when was the fire? I don't recall a recent one in this area).

Spotted: intersection and route marker below. A little confusion though as the path we would have taken appeared to be closed off. So we took the 'rocky scramble' route instead, up and over the other side.

And then I knew exactly where we were: back on the Crassula Path. I remembered the views from last time. Ha, not today! Fortunately an excellent picnic spot, sheltered under a rocky overhang, presented itself just as we were looking to stop for snacks.

We continued along the Crassula Path. Landscape was very open, post-fire.

Almost like a garden in fact. Lots of flowers. Carpets of the blue Aristea.

Corymbium africanum.

Roella triflora. Lots!

And a white one too. Maybe Roella squarrosa?

And gorgeous little Pelargonium longifolium, in all shades of pink.

We rejoined the road and followed it back to the start, with a short detour past the waterfall. No water falling at the moment, and the gladiolus were were looking for already over. As we plodded back to the cars the cloud to our right started to lift, and we could see down to Noordhoek.

Super walk! We were very happy to have with us on this walk fellow blogger and plant enthusiast Marie from 66 Square Feet. You can see her excellent photos from the excursion here and here.


Firefly said...

The Cape Floral Kingdom is an amazing biome with an amazing variety of plants and flowers. While camping in Noordhoek from 27 Dec to 5 Jan I noticed the mountain around Silvermine was covered in cloud and mist most late afternoons while the south easter was blowing but when the wind changed to westerly it wasn't.

Reggie said...

The mist on the mountain can be so amazing - like being on a completely different planet, cut off from the surrounding city. Well done on finding the perfect picnic spot at exactly the right time! :)