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Helderberg Nature Reserve with Nina, 3 August 2014

posted 29 Aug 2014, 12:56 by Hagen Liebberger   [ updated 29 Aug 2014, 13:13 ]

I made a mistake – but I’ll get to that in a minute. Up at 07:00 and shower. It’s so nice and warm under the faucet that when I have the courage to shut it down, I find I’m running late.

Hill gear is no problem, as I can pack that on autopilot, but food – what to eat quickly? Slice up some fresh fruit; throw on some muesli and splash in too much milk. A few spoonful’s then – and now comes the mistake – I put the bowl on the floor of the passenger front seat, in order eat a few more spoonful’s at traffic lights. No traffic on a Sunday morning so it shouldn’t be a problem. I had not counted on the lights at the Verdegelen clinic going amber at just the wrong second. I braked to a halt but my cereal carried on out of the bowl towards Somerset West. All over the car carpet; ‘damn’, or maybe stronger words were said.

I am new here, but I had explored Woodie’s Walk the previous week and on another stunning day last week day I had made West Peak, so I knew the way to the Helderberg Reserve, and there ready to go was our guide Nina Nezura and our other three walkers Gudrun Anderson, Riaan Marais and Jolene Wium.

The forecast was rain, but we were lucky as the morning was fine but cloudy, though touched by a little chill of a Cape Winter. Up on the hillside, the path options are fairly obvious, but the faynbos bushy section out of the car park has twice got me lost in a myriad of wood paved and gravel tracks, so I was happy to follow Nina as she led with local knowledge up and out of the lower bush covered slopes.

It’s kind of neat that you can use sections of the lower Sugarbird walk and the upper Protea trail to gain the upper slopes of West Peak.

Right enough, Protea’s grow everywhere, which pisses me off, as I can’t get any to grow in my garden at Sir Lowries Pass. We soon branch off at the upper right point of the Protea trail and head up into Disa Gorge. This wooded defile, echoing the calls of a troop of small monkeys and accompanied by a classic sparkling trickling brook, is a magical place. If a Hobbit straight out of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ came bounding down the other bank, I think all of us would accept this as normal and just say ‘Hi, and how is Gandalf these days?’

Soon enough the Leopard Loop trail takes us out of the Gorge and onto to a fine path, crossing the lower slopes of West Peak, giving us great views of the mountain flanks and the settlements down to the sea. Time for pics - me with you, you with me – no let me take one with you in it…. Permutations are endless when everyone is enjoying themselves and wanting to help each other. Soon enough the Leopards Loop ends and we pick up the ‘down’ path to regain the top left of Protea Trail.

Onwards and downwards, Jolene and I were chatting away, so much that we lost the pack and reached the car park by a direct descent of all the Songbird Walk whilst the others led by Nina probably went down a much nicer descent back through the fynbos.

We gathered in the Nature Reserve café, and put back on the calories we had lost on the walk, by each eating a full slice of apple crumble and cream. I was educated further in the delights of Rooibos and honeybush tea, after which we all went our ways, having enjoyed some sweat, laughs, information and great views from the flanks of a fine mountain. The rest of Sunday was but an anti climax.

Thanks to my companions Gudrun, Jolene, Riaan and our guide Nina.

Steve Chadwick