Goodbye to a hiking inspiration

MikeLundy books

Mike Lundy, Cape Town’s most famous hiking author, passed away yesterday, at the age of 74.  People have said marvellous things about him but one comment stood out for me when my friend Frank, also a hiker, said: “Contrary to most work of other hiking authors, his books can actually be used to follow a trail.” This is true.

I felt a connection to Mike, for several reasons. When I got into the hiking thing a few years ago it was one of his books – Easy Walks of the Peninsula – that I used to get me going, proudly ticking off the walks as I completed them. I then met his son Tim via his Facebook hiking group and even took the 4-legged wonder on her very first hike to Silvermine with Tim and a group.  Tim is a professional hiker and mountain guide, as well as a member of the mountain rescue team, so his level of hiking is way above my huff-and-puff style and I haven’t hiked with Tim again, much too embarrassed. But I do follow his exploits, online via Facebook and Twitter, doing what his dad called ‘armchair hiking’.

This blog started as a result of a few encouraging friends who liked photos I was posting on Facebook and who told me to do a photo blog. Most were hiking photos, mainly taken in Silvermine, my favourite place. The photos are not great but the encouragement was.

Confession: my fitness level has dropped so much that I haven’t hiked at all for a couple of years. Years of smoking have taken their toll and even the slightest slope leaves me breathless. But now that I have quit smoking, yes I have and this time I think it’s permanent, I expect some improvement and the ticking off in Mike’s book will resume. And the cave walk, I haven’t forgotten that one, it’s lurking in the back of my mind with the rest of my life’s shameful procrastination.

Mike Lundy no doubt inspired thousands of Capetonians to explore their surroundings –  his departure is a big loss to the hiking community, not to mention his family to whom we send warmth and condolences.

destroo grave

Cobra Camp – one of the easiest walks in the book and if not for Mike’s book I would never have found these graves at the start of the walk. The Destroo family has apparently some vague connection to my late father’s family (Destrieux) but I have never been able to discover much.

kleinplaaskids

Near Kleinplaas Dam – another easy-peasy walk.

flower

Silvermine has many different walks and the variety of flowers is amazing. Recent fires have caused this reserve to be closed to the public until it is deemed safe.

yellow flower Kleinplaas

Lion’s Head

lions head

It really does look like a Lion’s Head but only from a certain angle (not this one) and with some imagination.

You could say that Lion’s Head is the mountain of my youth. I used to live just beneath it and looked at it every day. In my angst-ridden teens it was probably all day.

But I have never climbed to the top. I’ve meandered on the lower sections but not very high up. This is shameful. This week I shared on Facebook the most amazing photo, taken by one Brendon Wainwright, taken from inside a cave facing Table Mountain. I didn’t even know there was such a cave – apparently it’s more of an over-hang, according to my friend Frank Gaude, who is an excellent mountain guide. Look at Frank’s Facebook page, he’s also a better photographer than I am.

To cut a long story short, Frank is urging me to go to the cave and has offered to take me. I’m not too sure about this because I’ll huff and puff and embarrass myself. So I promised to think about it and psych myself up. It has, after all, been too long since I did a decent hike. This is part of ‘psyching myself up.’

The photos below are from previous hikes. Here’s the pic I shared on Facebook. Try to ignore the douchebag comments from idiots who insist it’s fake because they haven’t seen it. It’s called Wally’s Cave and I don’t know who Wally is but I will try to find out.

Heather Elephants Eye

This is a cave above Tokai known as Elephant’s Eye. Yes, we like to name our stuff after animals. I did this lovely walk with Heather a few years back and that’s her silhouetted in the cave entrance.

Get jump Noordhoek Peak

This is another friend of mine, Gaetan aka Frenchy, doing some stuntwork on Noordhoek Peak, a walk inside Silvermine (where no silver has ever been found). Silvermine has great hikes and I’m proud to say I’ve done them all.

Hout Bay

This is Hout Bay from the top of Noordhoek Peak. The winding road is Chapman’s Peak Drive, one of the most beautiful coastal drives in the world. I drive it all the time with clients so now I can predict the exact moments when they will gasp in surprised pleasure as we round a bend.

UPDATE: Wally seems to have been quite a man. Read about him here. Thanks for giving me the link, Frank! See? Frank knows stuff.

Noordhoek Peak

Table Mountain and Lion’s Head are the iconic mountains to climb in Cape Town but Silvermine Reserve has many more  advantages for me.  It takes me just a few minutes to reach, it’s big so has a large variety of paths short and long,  fabulous fynbos with masses of proteas, a dam in which to cool off at the end of a hike, and the views change constantly as you change direction and climb – one minute you’re overlooking Muizenberg and the Cape Flats and a few minutes later you see the whole of False Bay to Simonstown. But keep walking a little longer and higher and you’ll have views of the Atlantic seaboard all the way from Kommetjie to Hout Bay with The Sentinel far below looking almost insignificant, and Chapman’s Peak Drive winding its way around the mountain like a narrow ribbon.

I also like Silvermine because it’s only frequented by picnickers, hikers, climbers and other like-minded folk.  Vida even has a special permit – she loves the fynbos, I’m convinced she reacts to it differently to the plants elsewhere, must be the scent.

Silvermine has two entrances with the main one being the most popular because the area is larger, and one can braai (wind depending) or picnic around the dam, whereas the other entrance (Silvermine East, on the left after the first gate when coming up from Tokai) is less well-known but just as lovely and it has an amazing waterfall. The main entrance is also home to tented accommodation that forms part of the famous Hoerikkwago Trail, a trail of 3 to 5 days, depending on how much you want to do.

On the day these photos were taken we were 7 adults, one 3 year old and 2 dogs. The child and one of the dogs were carried most of the way. The hiking books and maps call this a 2-3 hour walk but we took almost all day because we dawdled and stopped many times to appreciate our surroundings and take in the views, especially the highest point which is Noordhoek Peak. Coffee, tea and several well-earned rolls later we were ready for the descent which was a piece of cake after the slow ascent. A barefoot paddle in the dam ended a perfect day!

Just writing this has made me want to do it again, soon!

Red locust

Hiking with friends today near Kommetjie we came across this large red locust who was quite content to allow us to take many photos.

This is the first entry of a blog some of my friends have been telling me to do for ages.  I don’t rate my photographic skills very highly but their comments have gone to my head so here goes.

The aim is to post a single photo each day, taken either somewhere in the city where I live:  Cape Town, or in the surrounding region  of  the Western Cape.  Once I figure out how to do it I’ll add a map of the region. Photos will not be photoshopped, but cropping and straightening might occur.

This is a very beautiful part of the world so you can expect lots of photos of nature, from mountains and oceans to some very amazing and beautiful plants. I expect the human population and its activities to provide lots of material, too, because I share this place with some very weird and wonderful characters.

Disclaimer

A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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