Monday, March 14, 2011

Weekend Walkabout.

This is my longest post so far and includes lots of pictures so please accept my apologies for the longer download time.
So, What did you do on Saturday morning?
My day started rather early, I got a phone call at about 9pm on Friday evening from my son James. "Hi dad Colleen and I are going for a 12km hike in the Koeberg nature reserve tomorrow. Would you like to join us?" Well of course! An opportunity to spend time with my children is always welcome. "Meet us at the corner at 6.45am and we'll go from there."
Now James and Colleen are going to climb Mt Kilimanjaro at the end of June with a small group of people from Colleen's company, a sponsored trip. So they do hikes every Saturday to train for their trip, James is fit and has done hikes for years but Colleen is relatively new to this and this is to help her get used to long walks. Mt Kilimanjaro is Africa's highest mountain the summit is at about 19 000 ft above sea level so oxygen at the top is very scarce. Not everyone who climbs this mountain makes it and it does have a record of fatalities so getting in shape is essential. I'm very proud of them for taking on this huge challenge.

Photo: Elephant in front of snowcapped mountain As far as I know it is the largest freestanding mountain in the world. Anyway that be it as it  may, Our hike was at sea level and nothing like what they are going to go through but good training all the same. I usually walk at a little over 6km per hour so I had it in my head that I would be back home by about 10am, Ha! Little did I know.
6 and a half hours later I finally got home. I will explain as we go why.
We started at 7am at the parking lot and headed into the reserve along the marked trails, a little after sun rise.
It was a cloudless day so I was wearing a short sleeved white shirt and jeans and since I was under the impression it was only going to be a short walk, all I carried was my camera. Of course the others were in training so carried back packs with things they knew they were going to need such as water and something to eat. Enthusiasm was high and the conversation animated.
There are a number of trail options but since this was a get fit exercise we took the long one, the "Dikkop" trail, ( A type of bird). Well this trail was 19.7 km not 12 and would take us all over the reserve. There was no ways I was going to be back in 3 hours. Oh well, what can I say?
It wasn't long before we encountered our first group of animals, A lone Zebra and a herd of Gemsbok. Fortunately they are quite used to visitors and allowed us to approach quite close giving great opportunities for photos. This is extremely dangerous under normal conditions in the wild. Tourists often get attacked thinking they can approach wild life here with the impression that they are tame. Lions kill people and even Zebras will attack and trample people to death if approached in the wild. However this particular herd  is used to people and not as dangerous. Lucky for us.

As you can see the terrain in which these animals live is quite dense although not very high. At this stage we were still walking on fairly compacted roads and it wasn't long before we came across this sign indicating the various distances to the finish. We had already come about 3 km at this stage and in our infinite wisdom decided to take the longer route.
Little did we know just how far 17.5 km was going to be. For me it was not such a big issue as I'm used to walking long distances and I think James was ok with it too but poor Colleen... Any way we carried on, still fresh and filled with enthusiasm. By now the animals had disappeared and the only evidence of their presence were the spoor and droppings along the dust road. Unfortunately the road noise from the R27, one of the main coast roads, was very evident at this point and all of us commented on it at some stage but we would soon be heading away from the road and towards the sea. James was walking in front while Colleen and I trailed behind deep in discussions about things like international banking and Quantum physics, among other less controversial subjects.
We came to this sun shelter just a little after 10am and decided to have a drink and something to eat before carrying on down the dust road towards the sea. Fortunately there is a dirt bin here so things like sandwich wrappers and candy wrappers can be thrown away without problem. after a short rest and chance for Colleen to shed a little clothing we header down the road still looking for any evidence of wild life, even the birds seemed to have dried up at this stage but the road noise was soon gone and all was very quiet. I'm not sure what the temperature was but I will tell you this much, it was hot.
It amazes me how the sun reflects off the sandy surface and even though we were all wearing hats we still got sun burned. Colleen and James were both doing fine at this stage. While we were going along we had to keep looking back every now and then because of cyclists on their mountain bikes, don't want to get run over or something. Anyway a couple, I think they were from the UK, met us coming the opposite way and stopped to tell us about a Fish Eagle at one of the dams up ahead. Both Colleen and James were very excited about this and carried on with hearts of anticipation and expectation. I like animals and birds but since I live in the country don't get quite as excited as most city dwellers do, if we see it then we see it if not then not.
Well we did see it but while we were still approaching the dam it flew away. I don't think it left because of us, I think it just had business elsewhere, we were still quite a distance from the dam when it flew away. colleen watched where it went and was convinced it was on it's way back when she saw a microlight in the distance but after a while realised what she was looking at. We had a bit of a laugh about that.
There was a birding hide called Martin's hide alongside one of the dams, there were two dams, one connected to the other. Anyway the hide is on stilts and on one of the walls next to the stairs was this sign, "BEWARE OF SNAKES." James went creeping into the hide, all senses alert looking for snakes before Colleen and I entered. Me being the type of person I am and thinking about another blog I had read about how long it takes for a child to grow up, picked up a handful of stones and while James was inside threw them against the side of the building hard. BANG. I must say I'm impressed with Jame's only comment afterwards to Colleen, "Now you know why I don't invite him along more often. He's cruel." I was having a good laugh and thought it was hilarious. Anyway no snakes.
By this time we were very near the sea and could clearly see Table Mountain so, being Capetonians, out came the cameras. In this picture the hill on the left of the picture is the hill on the farm where I live while the buildings on the extreme left are those of the nuclear power station with Table Mountain and Cate Town in the centre.
As you can see we are by this strage right next to the sea and the hard packed ground was about to turn to soft dune sand. Trudge, trudge.
For me this wasn't such a problem nor do I think that James was having too much of a rough time with it, he had already done a 5 day hike along the Fish River canyon in conditions very similar to these. Colleen however was going to struggle a bit and by the time we eventually got back to firm ground would have had enough. Aching calf muscles and sore feet etc.
This went on for a little over two hours. Soft sand can be very trying to walk in especially when you are wearing mountain climbing boots and a backpack with the harsh African sun at full strength reflecting off the sand into your eyes and face. Anyway Colleen by this stage was taking strain and becoming a little grumpy, hey it's a training exercise and learning to trudge is just one of those things. On Mount Kilimanjaro, as far as I have been told, their longest hike on any given day will be about 4km not 20.
We did eventually get out of the soft sand near our final destination and as we were approaching the buildings came into contact with a little game, mostly Zebras and Springbok. There were some Eland in the distance but a bit too far away. From this point on we were back on tar roads and just about at the car much to every one's relief. We had to walk under these huge power lines that feed the country with power. They make such a noise, a sort of humming sound, but loud.
This was a very interesting hike for me and apart from Colleen suffering from a headache and sore feet I think that both James and Colleen both enjoyed it too. We were all a bit tired and still had a whole day to go through with other obligations to fulfil but it was really worth it and I personally  thoroughly enjoyed it. Next weekend James and Colleen are going up into the mountains and if invited I will join them for another day with my son and friend.
We live in a wonderful world. Thank you Lord for a great weekend.
If you click on any of the images they will increase in size.


  1. I so enjoyed your story and photos.

    Your words have taken me on the journey with you. I am sweaty from the heat, my throat is parched with thirst, my feet are aching and yet my spirit is soaring with the beauty of nature and the opportunity that God graces us with another day to enjoy it all.
    So nice to meet your family too.

  2. Hi Geoff

    Good post! You have inspired me to go 'take a hike'no pun intended! I live here in Duynefontein and have been meaning to go an explore the area. When next you feel like a gentle hike round here, drop me line and we can maybe hook up. I am a friend of Ian Penny and saw your post via facebook. Take care and thanks for the inspiration to start walking again ;-)

  3. Great photos and sounds like quite an adventure. You are fortunate to be so near to such places that you visited. I could have put up photos of me on Saturday morning, but they would have just been shots of me sitting at my computer and doing some light housework.

    Tossing It Out

  4. What an awesomely beautiful hike Geoff! One that I know I could never do so it was great to see all of your photos. I couldn't help but think about Jesus traveling all of those miles on his journeys.
    The pictures were wonderful, thank you for sharing.
    Love Di ♥

  5. One Woman's Thoughts,
    Hello young lady. James is my son but Colleen is a family friend, it is through her that James is able to go on a Kilimanjaro climb. The sponsorship comes through the company she works for. I wish I could impart the true feeling into my writing, it is not easy to convey all that is going through you on one of these walks. God is very gracious to allow me to explore his creation and to be able to come back and tell of it.
    Hi, welcome to my blog. Maybe one day we could link up and just go for a walk on the hill on the farm where I live. Much shorter and easier to start with. But yes I will probably get hold of you some time in the near future. Keep on walking.
    How zit friend.
    Doing house work is something I don't get around to as often as I need to. This walk came as a bit of a surprise for me but I do try to keep my weekends busy, I hate being alone.
    You know, none of the prophets had cars, they all had to walk as did Jesus the son of God. When you actually look at the distances He walked over the three years written about in the Gospels then you can see just how fit he must have been.
    Thanks for the visit everyone, I really do love it when people come to visit and leave their impressions. Thanks guys. Geoff.

  6. My son just got home from living in South Africa-- Capetown and also Namibia. I have a picture he took as my blog header. I'm going to enjoy seeing more of South Africa from your blog and learning more about it!

  7. Hello Geoff, I don't know how I missed this post, but I am/have enjoyed it. Beautiful photos, beautiful land. I love the white sand. The zebras kind of freaked me out because as you stated, they can be dangerous. Snakes? (scream here). Well, you and Collen discuss International Banking and Quantum Physics... I'm not up to those subjects. I'd just have to be listening! Quite a beautiful walk you had there. I enjoyed the sun and warmth that was conveyed with this post. I enjoyed participating in your walk-about while I sat in my desk chair here on a cold winter day. I do like taking walks, but have never taken one as long as you have here.

  8. Joy Hi, I very much doubt your not participating in subjects like these, the level we were discussing them on was intimately related to our every day lives and how these affect us daily. I'm a simple man and understand everything on that level. I'm certainly not on the same level as people like Stephen Hawkins, Roger Penrose or David Green with their theories on the universe. However, should I ever sit and have a discussion with either of them, I'm sure we would both enjoy it.
    You know Joy, when I'm doing something interesting or thinking about some interesting subject or other, I know I'll be writing about it soon and that you will probably read what I've written. I'm actually just an ordinary man who, through his writing, makes things sound so interesting. The pictures do help stacks and having something out of the ordinary to photograph adds a bit of exotic flavour.
    Personally speaking, I like Zebras and snakes, in fact all life interests me but I also take a keen interest in other subjects like the universe, anthropology, God's word, science and so on and so on.
    Knowing that I can share these interests with others through my blog has changed my life in ways that I could never have dreamed of. It's been an absolute pleasure.
    You are the one person who pops into my head when I'm thinking about writing something or other, kinda like; "I wonder what Joy would think about this?"
    Thanks for another interesting comment. May you be blessed while you sit there under a warm blanket reading this, just keep on walking my friend,Geoff.
    I wonder how far a person actually walks in a lifetime?