Adventures on the mountains of Simon’s Town

Sundays were definitely made for hiking!

Yesterday, an overcast day with some blue skies and a light wind my friend and I headed out to Simon’s Town to meet up with Judi, who was staying in their beautiful family get-away house right on the ocean shore line. We arrived just after 8am and were welcomed in for a cup of tea before we hit the mountain slopes for the day.

One day when I am big I will have a house on the sea front like this.

Beautiful views from porch of the Kurgan’s home away from home.

Beautiful early morning views from porch of the Kurgan’s home away from home.

One day when I am big I am going to have a house by the sea and a weathervane just like this!

As it was not a circular route, Judi’s husband had kindly offered to drop us off at the start and collect us when we came down the other side.  A few had pulled out of the hike, leaving only 3 standing. But we were raring to go in what was perfect hiking weather!

The route up to the Blockhouse.

We headed out on the gravel road leading straight up.  Nothing like a steep slope to start the hike on and get our muscles all warmed up. Zigzagging our way up, the views were already quite stunning and the flora along the way was just so pretty with so many flowers out.

So many pretty flowers on display as we walked.

More pretty flowers on display.

Following the path, Natalie up front and Judi behind me, I stepped over a small snake coiled up on the path.  As I stepped over I froze with my foot in mid-air trying to decide whether I should run or just stand there and scream! Anyway one who knows me well enough knows that I can’t even say the “S” word, look at a picture of one, let alone see one in real life!

I quickly stepped over it with the longest, widest step possible and informed the girls of my find, thinking Judi behind me would step over ‘him’ and we would continue on our way. How wrong was I. Natalie raced back and Judi was pulling out her camera already. Needless to say I moved further up the path in the opposite direction!

After some investigation the snake uncoiled and they found him to be having a morning snack! Yup, much to the girl’s delight, he was eating a frog. I declined to move closer to look when called and there was no ways I was going to get a photo of it either! I did, however, manage to get a photo of the girls checking this lot out!

The girls inspecting the snake who was mid-snack and eating a frog!

Me waiting a short distance away with my feet well off the ground!

Finally on our way again, we made our way up to the Blockhouse, which was apparently built during World War 1.  The views from here were already quite stunning and we stopped to have a snack break while taking in the view that were unfolding below us.

The view from inside the ruins of the Blockhouse.

Room with a sky view ~ looking sky-wards inside the ruins of the Blockhouse.

The view from inside the ruins of the Blockhouse.

Natalie and I enjoying a snack break at the Blockhouse.

Judi and Natalie enjoying the view despite the few drops of rain that had started to fall.

After a nice snack break we continued to follow the path up, occasionally having to put on our jackets as a few drops of rain began to fall. As is usually the case by the time you have your jacket on, the rain has stopped and before long you stopping to take your jacket off again!

Making our way up to Swartkop Peak ~ we were on the right track.

We made our way up to highest point of the hike, Swartkop Peak and yet we were only at 678m, but a steep climb up to the top, which as always made the walk up to the top so worth it with the views all around.

Making our way up to Swartkop Peak.

Views on the way to the top.

Spoilt with beautiful flora along the way.

Looking back across the valley below.

Although the wind was chilly and hard-hitting on the top, the views from the top were stunningly beautiful, overlooking Simon’s Town and False Bay on the one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.

Standing at the top of Swartkop Peak.

Beautiful views from the top across the bay below.

Walking along the Swartkop ridge towards Smitswinkel Bay.

From the Swartkop peak we walked along the breathtakingly beautiful Swartkop ridges heading in the general direction of Cape Point.  We had the most stunning views of the Cape Peninsula as well as across False Bay to Hangklip and beyond to Gansbaai.

Walking along the ridge with some beautiful views between the rocks.

Walking along the ridge with some rock scrambling thrown in for good measure!

Suddenly we reached the end of the ridge and we were faced with a steep climb down into the valley below with views of the pathway leading up the other side.  The steep ascent on the other side reminded Judi  and I of a similar climb on Day 4 of our Kilimanjaro trek.  Just before camp we had a hectically steep climb down over ice-covered rocks and an almost vertical climb up the other side before reaching our camp. Luckily there was no ice around and the ascent on the other side turned out to be pretty reasonable and an easy but long walk up to the top.

A steep descent down before a long vertical walk up the other side. Looks like Kili was good practice!

The rest of the afternoon was spent walking up and down the rolling hills.  On our way up one of those hills we eventually stopped in a sheltered spot for lunch, spread ourselves out like lizards on a rock in the sun that had broken through the clouds.  The stillness all around was engulfing and so peaceful.  After lunch and a few more rolling hills we reached a burnt out plateau, providing beautiful views across the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.  The devastating fire looked like it had happened quite recently.  Where the burnt out overgrown bushes still crossed our path, some of us became covered in the black soot and others, like me, with shorter pants on got scratched something silly!

My camera battery eventually died along the way so the rest of the photo’s are by my friend Natalie, who kindly shared her photos of the rest of the trip with me for my blog.

Walking amongst the burnt out vegetation the views to the side were magnificent in contrast. Photo by Natalie Reynolds.

Gorgeous views of the coastline below. Photo by Natalie Reynolds.

A few times we lost the path, in the eerie burnt out plateau, the path would seemingly just disappear. But with some investigating we would discover a cairn placed by hikers before us pointing the way or what looked like could be a path.  It was all part of the adventure.

The mountainside devastated by a fire not so long ago. Photo by Natalie Reynolds.

Cape Point in the far off distance where the two oceans meet. Photo by Natalie Reynolds.

Smitswinkel Bay below, it was time to descend down the steep mountain side. Photo by Natalie Reynolds.

A short while later we started the very steep descent down to Smitswinkel Bay. The wind had come up quite strongly at this stage and at times we had to hold on to avoid getting blown over.  Still walking through the burnt out vegetation, the branches left behind were thick and remarkably hard to pass at places, poking us at every chance they got. The climb down was an adventure all on its own, losing the path, rock scrambling and just the most magnificent views to edge us on. At one point I stood on a loose rock and my right foot wobbled over to the right.  But later I was jimmying my way down some rocks and walked a bit on only to overstep the path on the right and have my right foot land in the grass-like vegetation just off the path.  This would normally not be a problem, however, there was nothing under what I stepped on and my foot did a fancy roll to the right for a second time leading to some fancy foot work to keep myself upright. A shot of pain through my ankle but a minute of standing still and all seemed intact. Or so I thought.

Finally down the steep descent and back on the straight path we followed the remainder of the path as it weaved itself towards the road past the old forestry house where we would call Judi’s hubbie to come and pick us up.  On our way down we passed a man walking about 6 dogs, mostly border collies, two of them puppies and the cutest things ever!  We stopped for a nice chat with him and he told us the fire on top of the mountain had only happened about two months before.

Nearing the end of the trail after an amazing day on the mountain! Photos by Natalie Reynolds.

By the old forestry station, we were almost home! Photo by Natalie Reynolds.

The end of the trail waiting for our ride home. Photo by Natalie Reynolds.

Upon arrival back at home, I removed my hiking boots (always the best feeling after a day on the mountain) and within a short while of removing my boots pain started shooting through my foot, the pain growing with each passing moment and the swelling was starting too…  By bedtime last night I had a lovely blue mark all along my foot and swelling all around the top of my ankle and side of my foot. My boot had obviously acted as support to my foot allowing me to walk off the mountain, thankfully! Today I am sitting with my foot up, iced and elevated. I can’t drive due to lack of movement in the ankle joint but I can hobble! :)

Another amazing day spent out on the mountain, with some great friends for company.  This is definitely a hike I will do again, maybe next time in long pants!

P.S. An update on my hard-drive ~ It has officially crashed and I point-blank refuse to cry until I get told ‘officially’ that my photo’s spanning over many years can’t be saved. Watch this space for *news*

~ All photo’s by me and Natalie Reynolds ~

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. avril
    Oct 09, 2012 @ 18:46:19

    I am sittiing in London and looking with wonder at our holiday home and your beautiful record of the Smitwinkel walk. Thank you – Avril Kurgan


    • Walking 4 Air
      Oct 09, 2012 @ 19:43:56

      Judi’s mom, welcome and hello!! :)
      Your holiday home is exquisitely beautiful with a view to die for ~ I don’t know how you ever leave there! So glad you enjoyed the post and that I could bring a little piece of ‘home’ to you while you are away. Enjoy your travels!


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