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03-17-2011: Cape Town, South Africa – Table Mountain

Southern Sky Adventures: 03-17-2011: Cape Town, South Africa – Table Mountain

Wednesday, March 17, 2011

Upon arrival last night into Cape Town and being dutifully picked up at the airport by Louisa, the never ending gracious hostess, her like minded husband, Ian asked me if I wanted to join our friend, Simon Waterkeyn, on a hike up Table Mountain in the AM. Ask me twice? No. I was all in.

Simon and I were to meet at the cable car station at 8AM and I managed to just beat the deadline and we were off. There is no daylight savings time in South Africa so in summer the sun rises early, perhaps 6AM. By 8AM it is already starting to get warm on a sunny day (the only reprieve, a big one, is that Cape Town is almost void of humidity). We decided on the standard Plattekloof (flat cliff or mountain in Afrikaans).

Table Mountain is 3,500 feet high but we started at a point about half way up. The initial portions of the climb are not so strenuous with rock steps being found intermittently between some flat stretches on trail. I had a liter of water with me and 2 apples. By the time I reached the top I’d be happy to have both and wish I had more.

Hike Start Hike Ends
Start of the hike, Simon & Sidney End point in the gap ahead at 3,500 feet

When the climb started to get steep we were met by a long, tall, gangly Zimbabwean named Sidney. A black man of 27 years of age, Sidney had lived in Cape Town for 10 years, working as an artist making wire figurines and selling the to the tourists. Simon and I walked and chatted with Sidney for perhaps 30 minutes at which time Simon reminded me he had a meeting at 10:30 back in Cape Town and he had to make haste. These words from Simon were entertaining on two fronts, 1) what a wonderful place to live to enjoy such a hike up to 3,500 feet and return before a morning meeting and 2) how difficult it would Cliff be to find many of my friend swilling to take part in such an activity back at home. The attractiveness to this type of exercise never gets old. This will prove to be the second time I’ve climbed the Plattekloof route, the first being with my nephew Charlie about 18 months prior.

The Plattekloof route faces directly into the city center of Cape Town which is about a north westerly direction. The sun was already high now at 9:15AM or so as Simon, with my blessing, began his faster ascent, leaving Sidney and I together. Many other people climb this route, too, so we pass or are passed by another 15 to 20 people along the way – all with varying degrees of exhaustion. By comparison, I would say our need for rest was about average. Some people looked to not need to be on the mountain while others looked to need a greater challenge.

Cape Town harbor behind us

Sidney and I were thinking as one in considering rest breaks. As the sun was directly to our backs, and the shrubbery was flat and small, there was little shade. Yet, we managed to find a few bushes and rock faces in which to hide for 15 minutes or so before continuing on.

Further up we managed to make better time and I believe we managed to crest the top at about 10:30AM. Simon texted me and had already reached the top, enjoyed his coffee and the small store and returned back via cable car to make his 10:30AM meeting. Having taken the easier timed hike, I am impressed with Simon’s accomplishment.

View of Camp’s Bay below from atop Table Mountain

Camp's BaySidney and I walked the top of Table Mountain for about 30 minutes, took in the sea views, parted company with a hearty handshake and I then went off for a bit longer walk onto the south side of the mountain.

Great way to start the day.

Given my proclivity for fish and chips here in Cape Town, I headed to my favorite spot, Fish on the Rocks in Hout Bay, and with great satisfaction, laid into an oder of hake and chips with some peri peri sauce Hout Bay Harbour Foodand a large, bottle Coke. Good eats and fine scenery at the Hout Bay harbor. One can sit there and take in the view from across the harbor and onto the impressiveness of the Chapman’s Peak Drive. This was one grease laden meal that I felt I had earned.

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