Conquering Table Mountain

Following in the footsteps of intrepid explorers and leaders of legendary expeditions into vast, unknown wildernesses, a few weekends ago we decided to hike up Table Mountain. Two words: 'Wow' and 'ouch'. But mostly just 'Wowwww...'.

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I've been up Table Mountain quite a few times and walked around on the top, but a few Sundays ago, for the very first time, we decided to hike up instead of taking the cable car.

The Twelve Apostles and Lion's Head, Table Mountain, Cape Town

On the first hot weekend of Spring, we began around lunchtime with a gentle walk along the Pipe Track, which begins just beneath the cable car station at Kloof Neck and follows the path that was originally built in 1887 as a service access for a water pipe. This part of the walk hugs the base of the Twelve Apostles, above Camps Bay.

Lion's Head and Kloof Nek, Table Mountain, Cape Town

The Pipe Track, Table Mountain, Cape Town

The next half was slightly tougher as it involved leaving the relatively flat track, turning left and upwards, with a bit of mild scrambling up Woody Ravine to the top of the mountain. As we picked our way carefully, a cold wind suddenly made an entrance and brought with it a swirling rain cloud that chased us all the way up to the top.

The Pipe Track, Table Mountain, Cape Town

Clouds rolling in, Table Mountain, Cape Town

Once there, the air was much colder and I gave myself a pat on the back for having thought to bring some extra layers. Sitting amongst the fynbos, we chatted to other hikers and enjoyed our little biltong and carrot stick picnic, before picking our way back down again via Kasteelspoort, the route of the old cableway. This was really the point of the whole exercise; the views of Camps Bay, Lion's Head and of course the ocean, are nothing short of breathtaking.

Lions Head and Camps Bay from Kasteelspoort, Table Mountain, Cape Town

Sitting there on a rock, high above the city and even above the clouds, at the top of the world, is an addictive feeling and we enthusiastically vowed to make hiking up Table Mountain a regular occurrence, weekly even.

Looking over Camps Bay from Kasteelspoort, Table Mountain, Cape Town

As is often the case, coming down was actually harder than going up... There were lots of loose rocks and we ended up on the floor a couple of times. But the worst part were the jelly legs and, three days later I was still struggling with stairs. Perhaps we're not weekly mountain climbers afterall, every other month maybe...?

My top tip, unless you are super fit or have plenty of time to recover, heed the advice of those who know; hike UP, cable car DOWN. Also, having never completed Duke of Edinburgh (or been required to carry a backpack full of supplies for any other reason) I am certainly no expert but in all seriousness, a hike up Table Mountain shouldn't be undertaken recklessly. Check the forecasts and remember that the weather can change in an instant. Take sensible precautions; plenty of water, sunscreen, appropriate clothing, don't go alone, give yourself plenty of time, follow marked routes, etc, etc. Use your common sense and you will reap the rewards.

by Rebecca 22/09/2015

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