Fernkloof this morning

Our short walk in Fernkloof this morning took place in cool conditions.  Rain threatened and we even had a few drops, but sadly, nothing came of it.  We wandered around the back of Lemoenkop and up the steep steps to the three dams, before returning to the Visitors’ Centre via the Fernkloof Gardens.

The litter at the base of the three dams is a cause for concern and I will forward the picture to the Municipality for their attention.

A Walk on the Contour Path

This morning’s walk along the Contour Path from the Visitors’ Centre to Elephant Path and back (a distance of 6.7 km) was attended by 18 Hurriers and one guest.  The weather was cool – perfect for walking – and we all enjoyed the sights and sounds of the mountainside, especially the views over Hermanus and Walker Bay.  The new Sports Centre, under construction on the north side of the High School, is progressing well and the tennis courts and astroturf  hockey field look ready for use.

Our walk was followed by a gathering at Fernkloof for tea and the planning of the 2019 First Half Hiking Programme.

Walking at Flower Valley

Despite the threat of a wet morning and some of the stalwarts being absent with sick leave, 14 Hurriers turned up at the Kraal Rock parking area at 07.30.

On arrival at Flower Valley Farm we were met by Kirsten Retief, Conservation Manager of the Flower Valley Conservation Trust, who told us something about the Trust and the work that it is doing on the farm and with various conservation agencies and organisations in the area.

The fynbos was in excellent condition and we enjoyed two of the shorter walks . First the circular Pincushion Walk which took us up and around a hill and through fields of pincushions.  We then took a ‘there and back’ walk to the Stinkwood Forest where we enjoyed a tea break under a canopy of magnificent old stinkwood trees.  On the way back to the office we found fresh tracks of one of the four leopards known to range in that area.

The total time for the walks, including breaks, was 2h 45m and the total altitude gain 255m.

It was a morning much enjoyed by all and we were back at Kraal Rock by 12.30.

Piet van Zyl (with photos by Piet and Ed Meyer)

Fernkloof Contour Path

Our walk this morning started with 12 people but three peeled off to do Lemoenkop, so nine of us carried on eastwards along the contour path.  It was very warm and we were pleased to be in shade for part of the time.  We did not go far, but completed two good hours of walking by the time we returned to the Visitors’ Centre.

A Walk to Vogel Pool

After last night’s gale, we were relieved to wake up to a calm and clear day today.  We were going to walk to Vogel Pool with Gilly, so were pleased with the change in the weather.  It was her first visit to Vogelgat and she obviously enjoyed the outing.  By the time we had ascended the zigzag path the wind returned, however, and that wasn’t a bad thing as it kept us cool in what turned out to be a pretty hot day!  The temperature was no less than 34 degrees Celsius when we got back to Base Camp!  I was certainly quite exhausted!

We managed to get a ‘lifer’ when we spotted the rare Paranomus sceptrum-gustavianus on the way down.  It was some distance off the path and down a steep slope, so I did not get a good shot of it.  We had no idea what it was, but luckily Giorgio identified it for us.

Vredehoek Farm Walk

Debby and Keith always put on such a good show at their beautiful wild flower farm, that a large turn-out is almost guaranteed.  Today was no exception.  No less than 23 Hurriers availed themselves of the opportunity to enjoy the good weather, beautiful fynbos and great hospitality!

We walked through the Protea plantations and saw the blooms being harvested for export.  What a sight!  Then we passed through a recently burnt area where the botanists could marvel at the new growth, before traversing through fynbos on the lower mountain slopes.  On arrival back at the cottage, we were amazed to find a super spread of goodies to eat and hot coffee.  It was a perfect ending to a perfect day!

Walking the Jeep Track Circuit

This morning eight keen botanists and nature geeks ventured up the ZigZag above Voelklip.  As we arrived at the start of the Jeep Track, we were met by Frank, who had left before us.  A welcome stop for a drink gave us the opportunity to watch a pair of Cape Rockjumpers on the outcrops close by.  It was a great sight and they displayed beautifully.

Our stroll along the Jeep Track towards the Vogelgat boundary took us through what Sandy called ‘The Elysian Fields’, an area dominated by Leucadendrons and Restios.  Between these were many small and interesting plants that called for many stops and much discussion and fossicking* about!  The track back westwards from the boundary took us to the site of a previously visited patch of rare and endangered Mimetes capitulatus, but we failed to find them.  This caused some consternation – had they died or had they been removed by some plant thief?  Our GPS told us we were at exactly the right spot.

Disappointed, we pressed on, once more spellbound by the many different species on display.  One of our objectives was, as usual, to find Orchids, and, whilst we realised that this was a hard ask, given that the last fire was three years ago, we still managed to identify 6 species as well as seeing some which were too small for positive IDs.

Wildlife was also observed, from insects to birds and a lucky sighting of a young Berg Adder and a lone Klipspringer.  It was a memorable morning and we had covered no less than 10.5 km by the time we arrived at the Fernkloof Visitors’ Centre at the end of our adventure.

Fossicking –  hunting around – apparently South Africans are not familiar with the term, but Australians certainly are!