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~ I dont blog about things to be liked. I blog about things that I like ~ ... so that one day, on my death bed, I will have said and done what I wanted to do, and die peacefully without regrets.
Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders & says..' Oh shit....She's awake'

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hiking Smuts Track on Table Mountain

Hiking Smuts Track was not a another walk in the park.  Again, another breathtaking walk - famously known to have been the route of General Jan Smuts which he walked up to the age of his mid eighties.


I had my heart rate monitor on, and burnt 1680 calories from start to end.  Had we not done the cable way down, Im sure I could have added another 400 calories to this figure.

The route starts at the foot of the mountain by Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden.  It cost us R35 each to get through the gates and onto the route, which is via Skeleton Gorge.

Follow the Skeleton Gorge signs inside the Botanical gardens.

Kirstenbosch Botanical gardens is also a very popular venue for Concerts in the Park.

The path going up varies between wooden foot steps and well placed rocks.

This route is a difficult and potentially dangerous climb, particularly in wet weather.



A good 30 minute walk from the TOP Entrance gate in Kirstenbosch, will take you to cross over the Contour Path and a small sign indicating the start of Smuts Track (there is no confusion as to which way it is, but only up)

The path zig-zags its way up the steep stone steps into the gorge. During winter this is the main flow down for the Liesbeeck river. I particularly love this section of this route the most. Its not often that one can see so much green moss covering the rocks in such a condensed area.



About two thirds of the way up Skelleton gorge, we reached a few wooden ladders (and gladly no chains as the sign indicates).  These wooden ladders are a real welcome!  Usually by now we've had our second break, but today was one of my stronger days for climbing and we went up in one go all the way to the top.

Looking at these pictures, Im very sad to say that my new Blackberry 9700 Bold takes very poor pictures compared to my Nokia N82.  Dont get me wrong, I just love the Blackberry for what it has to offer for business etc, but for taking photo's it gets a thumbs down. Had I not dropped my Nokia so many times (on my hikes!) and it was still working, I would have used it hands down as my main source for taking my pictures.

Once we emmerged from the Gorge and its dense forest below, the view of False Bay and the Helderberg is clearly seen.  During a cold winters day, the rays of the sun is also a warm welcome.

From here, we walked another 20min up the steep incline before we reached our next crossroad.

At the first crossroad once we reached the top, we turned right to follow the path hugging the side of the mountain overlooking Kirstenbosch and surrounds.

The good news is we reached to top of Skeleton Gorge, the bad news was... the 'mountain' ahead of us.

Its very disheartening if you think you have reached the top, when you see another monster hill in front of you.

Our GPS indicated that we were on about 800m from here, and we had another 280m to go before we reached our peak... MacClears Beacon.

The climb to the top of the beacon was actually a beautiful walk and fairly easy to walk in about 1 hour from the top of Skeleton Gorge.


At the top of the fabulous walk we were again blessed with a near 360 degree view of the Cape!  This is for sure a must do walk if you have not done it.


MacClears beacon marks the highest point on Table Mountain of 1080m.  We started walking at an altitude of 50m, so a 1km climb over about 4.5km is not too bad for one to consider it a good walk for the day.

We found a comfy spot on the rocks at MacClears Beacon to have our halfway mark lunch break.  Looking down onto our route of last week - Devils Peak.  Im still keen to find a way from Devils Peak to MacClears... not sure if there is one?  Have seen a few faint paths on Google Earth, but Im going to have to set out on a mission to find this one.

Due to our respect for this majestic mountain, we are very careful to not just go wandering off onto some route into the unknown...


After a short break, we ventured on - heading directly for the cable way.  This path follows a almost flat path all along the face of Table Mountain.  I just love it here, and would recommend it to anyone to come and see the views this fairly easy and flat section has to offer.

The path literally hugs the cliff face for us to enjoy looking down onto Lions Head and the city of Cape Town almost all the way back to the Cable Station.

Thissection is us looking at Platteklip Gorge from an angle we are not too familiar with.  Platteklip Gorge is the easier route to walk up to the top of Table Mountain if you do not wish to take the cable way.  Be sure to remember that Plattes (as known by the locals) has no mercy for the unfit either. 

The Upper Cable Station is very well equipped - the walkways are also made for easy access for disabled persons - and there is a rather pricey restaurant / coffee shop at the top.
 Ha ha, this is Alex - DONE!!!  I dont often find him chillaxing like this after a walk...  blaming it on a weak stomach - I told him to ease off on the italian salami he had the day before :)

We remembered to take the Wild Cards, which eased off on the price tag of taking the Cable Car down.

Normal price is about R85pp one way, but it cost us R68pp as South African Citizens we had the Wild Cards which helped us get it at a more discounted rate.

You can also buy tickets online if you dont feel like standing in the queue. Note: This queue for the cable way coming up is often over an hour long.

This is a snap that I captured as the cable car started moving down - with the lower Cable Station in sight.




Here is the view from the cable car, looking at the point of mountain we had just come from... I just love staring at the mountain after a walk... trying to see if I can recognise our path we had just done.

Another favourite thing of mine to do, is to draw our route of the day off Google Earth map.

Before I got the Garmin eTrex Legend, I used to do this type of picture manually.  Now the GPS does it for me automatically.  Love it!


Costs of route:
R35pp entrance fee to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
R68pp down the cable way with a Wild Card.

Distance: 8.5km
Altitude: start 50m to 1080m at MacClears Beacon
Calories: 1680
Time: 4 hours



What a walk!  We did this walk just over a year ago, but forgot to take pictures (it was raining and we had a white-out on the day - loved that toooooo!), but at that time we were focusing on staying on the track. Great walk, great workout and good all round fun as part of living the life that our environment has to offer us.

2 comments:

Ian Meaker said...

Good post. The route your are looking for is called Ledges, it's best done from Devils Peak Saddle (top of Nursery Ravine) up to Maclears. Also, there is a compulsory climb which makes it best to have a small rope as a precaution.

Juanita Aitkenhead said...

Thank you Ian! (sorry I just saw your comment now) ... been busy hehe!

wow so it does need a rope, what a pity, as we are not into rope scrambling. But thank you so much for sharing the information.

kind regards, Juanita & Alex

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