22 January 2012

YUM! Pretzel Sticks

Salted pretzel sticks are very moreish. We nibbled these at The Beach in Kogelberg.

Kogelberg: A Day at the Beach

Date: 18 January 2012

Location: Kogelberg

Walkers: Dorothy, Michele, Tarryn, Brenda, Delphi & Helen

*** Route plotted here ***

Previous walk along this route here.

We made a mid-week day-trip ~ in the middle of a heatwave ~ to the wonderful Kogelberg Nature Reserve near Betty's Bay, for a day of walking, swimming and looking at flowers.

Even though we started fairly early (8.30am) it was already hot and sunny, with temps around 35C predicted for later in the day. So we had hats on and damp sarongs draped over shoulders. This really helps keep one cool!

There was a big fire in Kogelberg last March where a substantial area burnt. Although the vegetation is recovering it was still strange to walk through the stark open landscape. A sign warned us that the path was undergoing rehabilitation (it seemed okay to us though).

We walked on, up into the valley, surrounded by beautiful mountains.

And then our first view of the Palmiet River. So inviting!

Many flowers were spotted along this first sandy stretch. I think this purple one is a Pseudoselago, maybe P. subglabra.

Fluffy white Lanaria lanata dotted the landscape.

As did blue Aristeas. They were everywhere!

This pink pompom looks like it might be Amphithalea, possibly A. virgata.

We saw just one of this unusual specimen. I think it is Halleria elliptica.

There were plenty of Roella too... a couple of different varieties.

I particularly liked this purple one.

I'm not sure what this white spray is. Perhaps Ornithogalum graminifolium?

And an interesting grass: Schizaea pectinata. Common name Curlygrass Fern or Toothbrush Fern.

Good old combflower, Micranthus alopecuroides. It's flowering season is nearly over.

And then another new one for me: Merciera azurea. It grows only in the Kogelberg/Hermanus area.

There were daisies too, like this white one. The tiny pink flower I don't know.

Our path continued up the valley, with the river on our right and rocky peaks on either side. They are grey and stony, rather severe. I love this place though: it is so peaceful and quiet and completely unspoilt. Apart from the path and a few small signboards there is no evidence of human life at all.

In places the summer grasses were growing tall...

... while other areas showed fresh new green shoots beneath the dead branches.

There was quite a lot of orange Watsonia about. Not sure which one, maybe W. meriana or W. fourcadei?

Behind us it looked like like this....

... as our path passed close to the river once again.

Lobelia and palmiet on the banks.

And then across another one of the wooden bridges to an area beyond the reach of the fire. So different. Lovely lush mature fynbos which brushed against our shins as we made our way along the path.

White Cape Snow, Syncarpha vestita, rising tall above the green on the flats, and covering the slopes further along.

On the flats: lots of reeds. And stems nodding with delicate pale pink flowers. Erica articularis?

The river again. The River!

Also beside the river: tall stems with yellow daisy flowers. Othonna quinquedentata?

And another equally tall one, possibly Osmitopsis asteriscoides.

Fortunately they were also growing on the lower slope, or else I wouldn't have been able to see the flowers. The stems towered above me.

Another tall one! Not sure what it is, perhaps some sort of Metalasia?

The path wound its way along the side of a fairly steep slope. Stunning red-yellow-green foliage, contrasting against the dark blue-brown-black river.

LinkAnd some very happy Erica, bright white and somewhat hairy. Could it be Erica pinea?

Eeek, a spider's nest?!

And our first sighting of The Beach! It had only been about a 4km walk (and a very slow and easy one at that) but it had felt far in the hot, hot sun. We were all so ready for a swim.

And this might just be the perfect swimming spot in the world!

We settled in for the day, trying sarongs in the bushes above us to make shade for our camp. Fortunately a breeze had come up which helped keep us cool. We had the place to ourselves - in fact, we didn't see any other visitors to the reserve all day. We snacked and dozed and suntanned...

... and swam and swam, of course. The water was the ideal temperature. Quite warm in the shallows and on the surface, with a refreshing cold down below. I particularly liked sitting on the rocks mid-stream and getting the jacuzzi effect from all the bubbles. So fun!

We had planned to walk on a little further but it was far too hot. We stayed under the shade between eleven and three, emerging only for more swims.

And then it was time to walk again, following the same path back.

I am slightly obsessed with the red-green colour combinations found in so many of the fynbos plants. Aren't they wonderful?!

This one took it to a new level though... fluorescent acid-green leaves with crimson berries. Blindingly bright. It's Brunia alopecuroides I believe.

And more tall things. Another Brunia...

Brunia albiflora. A local resident.

And a mystery. These fluffy-looking pompoms were not soft at all, but quite hard and prickly to the touch. A fynbos plant for sure (maybe another Brunia?) but I cannot made an identification at all. Can anyone help?

This one is easy... the false everlasting, Phaenocoma prolifera.

And then another new one! Very distinctive in appearance so quite easy to find in the ol' guidebook: Retzia capensis.

Bizarre plant. Snappity-snap!

The views weren't too shabby either in the soft afternoon light.

We meandered back past the rocky cliffs. I'd been on the look-out for snakes all day, but we didn't see any.

Lizards were out though. Pretty good camouflage there, Mr Lizard.

The last section was back through the burnt landscape again.

There must have been so much in flower here in October/November! We saw many husks and dead stems and seed pods. Fynbos renewing itself.

Star grass, Ficinia radiata.

Our last stop was at the other swimming hole, where we had one final dip.

Floating on one's back down-river really isn't a bad way to spend a Wednesday afternoon!