I had been wanting to walk this trail again for a while but had found it a little difficult to determine how and where to book it. Eventually it was booked in time for Peter’s annual pilgrimage to Africa – and coincidentally it was timed for almost eleven years exactly since we last hiked it in the company of Brian, a schoolmate who was visiting from Australia once again, but would not be joining us this time.
The trail is adequately described in the post about that hike eleven years ago. If anything the western sector was more scorched by fire this time, with the shallow valleys leading down to Sirkelsvlei and Olifantsbos resembling white deserts. When we looked back over the trail from Rooihoogte it seemed clear that the latest fire had been ignited adjacent to the busy road leading down to Cape Point. Any guesses as to how it started? The sparse vegetation made it extremely easy to spot eland, bontebok and a troop of baboons picking their way across the sands, however. On day 1 a warning call also caused us to spot a pair of klipspringers on Kanonkop, who watched us warily as we circled east and south of them.
The beauty of the False Bay coast remains unchanged and I will never tire of this walk. Surely the Cape “is the most stately thing and the fairest cape [they] saw in the whole circumference of the earth”, to paraphrase Francis Drake.
Other things – besides the fact that we are older – were different this time too. For one, the previous night’s rain had left the earth damp and fragrant and the clouds made for dramatic photos.
Erica hut has been upgraded and now includes a shower, gas cooker, cutlery and crockery. The hut was once the accommodation for the soldiers who manned the Bosch Fortress Observation Post located immediately behind it during World War II.
On the downside there is the near constant thump and whine of helicopters bringing tourists from Cape Town on scenic flights. On day 2 I counted 16 chopper flights and 2 fixed wing flights between first light and 5 p.m.; bear in mind that each flight passes over you twice. This would be acceptable if we had been hiking in Cape Town International Airport’s flight path, but we were hiking in a national park, a place to experience nature and its sounds. As a drone photographer even I can appreciate why drones are banned over national parks, but it is surely time to regulate helicopter overflights. I am sure that these companies contribute nothing to the park’s conservation fees. Regulation of the volume of flights per day and requiring them to fly at least a kilometre off the coast should be considered. And maybe they are already required to fly out to sea, but almost every one cuts across Cape Point.
Along the Atlantic coast the tsunami of plastic flotsam washed up from the sea lanes is overwhelming, clearly a huge increase on 11 years ago. Any visit to the coast these days reveals our “plasticification” of the oceans – and it is distressing.
View the hike photo album
The trail represented another personal milestone on the road to recovery from the back op – the first hike with a full pack. No discomfort was experienced during and after the hike.