7 January 2013

Hoerikwaggo Trail 1: the hike

Posted by Callan Bentley

A little over a year ago, Lily and I hiked the Hoerikwaggo Trail, an overnight trek from Cape Point to Cape Town, South Africa.

In case you’re wondering, it’s pronounced “Hore-wreckh-uh-vahkh-oh.” It’s a Khoi-san word for Table Mountain.

Here’s a map of the route we took, modified from Google Earth “terrain” view. North is at the top of the map; south is at the bottom.

You’ll notice I added in the locations of a few other places for reference: the Sea Point Migmatite, the penguins at Boulders Beach, and Lion’s Head.

Anyhow, let’s go for a hike. Here’s a view of the Cape of Good Hope from the hike up to the observation tower at Cape Point:

Cape Point itself, in all its skinniness. Also note the far side of False Bay in the distance. That’s Cape Hangkilp. (Rooi Els is over there).

Same spot, but looking north along the Cape Peninsula, in the direction we would be walking over the next five days:

Here’s the start of the trail:

A few minutes later, I turned around and shot this portrait of my wife with the Cape Point observation tower in the background:

There was a stunning variety of landscape that we crossed on the Hoerikiwaggo Trail. Seaside cliffs, for example…

(Note the rounded boulders in the cove there?)

…And also scrubby plateau-like landscapes:

…some of which dropped off suddenly into steep oceanside cliffs:

There were even sections of the trail that crossed miles-long stretches of beach:

After crossing that particular beach (Nordhoek Beach), we had a stunningly steep climb up to the summit of Chapman’s Peak. That was rough, but we really felt like we had accomplished something when we got to the top and had some lunch:

We stayed in tented camps along the trail. They were pretty comfortable, and some were Grade A, and felt very luxurious. Here’s Orange Kloof camp, where we stayed our last night:

And here is Smitswinkel Camp, the best of the bunch, where we stayed our first night:

A double portrait at Slangkop Camp, as we began Day 3 of our hike (this was Christmas Day, and I was very tired from the long, long stretch we hiked on Day 2):

A few more scenes from the trail:

I’ll be spending the rest of the week talking about the geology along the trail, but here are a few shots that didn’t fit in elsewhere…

Some tafoni weathering of the Table Mountain Sandstone….

An opferkessel atop an outcrop, hosting a puddle of water it had retained from the most recent rainfall:

A similar series of interconnected holes which had trapped sufficient sediment to serve as a home base for some of the fynbos vegetation:

The carcass of a small animal – but I have no idea what it is.

Check out his skull. Sharp teeth (carnivorous?) and a big “mohawk” of bone that sticks out back as a flange (would that count as a saggital crest?).

I could really use some help identifying this critter – I’ve searched through the various mongooses and rodents and voles and golden moles and other small mammals of South Africa, both in my field guide and doing Google Image searches on phrases like “hyrax skull” and “aardvark skull,” for every conceivable creature from the field guide, but I couldn’t figure it out.

Here’s how we left Table Mountain, on the last day: the cable car:

(It was pretty foggy that day due to the “Tablecloth,” the veil of clouds that wafts over the mountain.)

We got a pretty good view of the Tablecloth fluttering in action a few hours later from the perspective of the Harbor area, where there was a single place that served real ale. Naturally, after hiking for 5 days, I deserved a glass or two of real beer…

… or six.

Here’s my plan for the rest of “Hoerikwaggo Week” at Mountain Beltway:

Tomorrow: the Table Mountain Sandstone

Wednesday: Jointing, veins, and Liesegang banding

Thursday: a botanical interlude with some pretty photos of fynbos vegetation

Friday: the folds and other deformation!