Saturday, 9 November 2013

Table Mountain Hike!

I knew that an all day hiking trip involving Table Mountain was going to involve doing some elevation gain aka going up hill but WOW hadn’t really thought it was going to be straight up!  

Though saying that, I may have encouraged the guide,Mike, by saying that I was an intermediate level hiker and loved doing the off the beaten path, not fussed to use the cable car to go up or down (aka tourist central). He took this to heart to say the least and I loved it! Legs may disagree slightly! Lol

We went to the back of Table Mt and started off by following an old water pipe road through an area that had a fire go through recently so the vegatation had revitalized and was looking lovely. I definitely came at the right time of year to see all of the wild plants blooming. Love all the proteas especially the big yellow pin cushion proteas. They are mixed in with some beautiful purpley -pink tall flowers which I need to write the name down. Mike did rattle off lots of names for lots of plants - some of which I will remember when I see next I’m sure.  

View from close to start of trail

First break spent in a cave.
When we got to the base of the mountain, we did a few lazy switch backs but even those were fairly steep incline and when we got to Blind Gully it was straight up. And the trail was a distinct trail for the most part but it sometimes reminded me of a goat track. And speaking of which there are Himalayan goats in the mountains which descend from a pair that escaped the zoo back in the 60s. They are now considered pests and we didn’t see any :( I don’t have any pictures of the actual track since I ended up having to pack my camera into my pack so I could use both hands to climb rocks with. There were a couple places that climbing gear could have almost been handy. That probably gives you an idea who steep and rocky it was. And Mike had to grab the handle of my pack once when I slipped - not badly but would have been a bit ouchy had I fallen. 
Mike and Blind Gully

We had a snack next to the Needle with a gorgeous view of Lion’s Head and watched para gliders floating around it. Could see the back side of where the cable cars arrive at the top of the mountain. Continued on up to the top. This part looks scary but actually was a lot easier then climbing vertically. The top offers a totally different landscape which is mainly Table Mountain sandstones which has been wind and water eroded into very cool shapes. 

The trail we took after leaving The Needle. Middle of picture -we
went to the right and over that square rock.
Me in front of Lion's Head
Break spot next to The Needle - rock pillar middle left, we sat bottom middle
We ended down through Echo Gully which follows a stream which is a nice but odd colour. It is a dark red which is actually from the plants in the area. Looks oddly pretty. Also enjoyed listening to the frog sing. And then down to 2 reservoirs which are beautifully made by sandstone and even saw a Rock Kestrel. And had lunch at the Mountain climbers club hut. It pays to have a guide who is a member :D Members get a key to the hut. Stunning view from the hut and its very well outfitted and taken care of. Two members are in charge of taking care of it and they make the trip up normally once a week if not a couple times. I even got to sign the guest book! 

Top of Table Mt, looking across to Echo Gully.

How's that for a colourful stream!

View from Climber's Hut

The hike down was easier since it was more of rock steps and some actual steps but stil hard on the legs. Going down for that length of time on that steep of an angle. Calves and knees were not impressed with me at all! 

The tired legs were sooo worth it for the stunning views of the mountains and the ocean. The ocean is such a beautiful teal with white sand beaches against the green/grey of the mountains. 

Black lizard that looks like a mini crocdile

Boulder + ocean + pretty flowers =gorgeous setting for awesome hike!

Multi coloured lizard

Also saw a fair few birds. Still need to track down a bird book. I will recognize the bird names when I see them. But some of them include: rock kestrel, red wing starling, sugar bush something (super long tail) and a sort of shirek. Didn’t see any goats but did see a couple lizards on the way down.

I went with Ventureforth tour group which specialize in hiking in and around Table Mountain but also mountain climbing trips and courses. I even lucked out and had a private tour! Woot! That is one thing about travelling by myself is that I sometimes have issues with booking tours if there is just me :( Boo. So this tour group gets bonus points for doing private tours with no extra charges. Can’t say enough good things about Mike as a guide. Awesome day of conversation on all sorts of topics, new tons about the area flora, fauna and history and Africa in general. Awesome awesome day! 

Mike the awesome guide
Finished the day with a meal back at Arnold’s, waiter even recognized me from the last time :D Super yummy milkshake with my pasta.

yummy pasta

Now to see if I can move tomorrow! Hehe 

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