From Amblers to Hikers Step by Step and the SirkelsVlei Hike…

The other day a friend called me a hiker, I just about fainted… if you knew me in person, you would know, I am just a regular gal with a couple of kids. But, I thought about it and we do seem to get up and down mountains together and we do seem to be able to disappear off the grid for an entire day every couple of weeks… So perhaps she had a point, perhaps our daily walks have morphed us into hikers.

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We have always been walkers, I can’t think how many times our gang have tumbled up and down the mountain behind our house and they are always ready for any kind of adventure. About a year and a half ago we began a bi-monthly hike in the Cape Point section of Table Mountain National Park. And we have managed to turn a walking family into a hiking family. We are slow, but steady and we have learnt that it really is the journey and not the destination that counts. It is has been great fun and definitely something to tie my kids together and create memories… rain or shine, short and far… we have hiked our way to and fro across the park.

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From Walkers to Hikers…

  1. Preparation Stays the Same: Not much has changed… one chap is always up at first light, good and ready to go. The others not so much. We always pack exactly the same packs with exactly the same gear whatever the weather: A warm top, a hat, a sketchbook and pencil, two sandwiches and a snack and two water bottles each. Nothing changes and we can pack the night before and be ready to roll out the door in the morning.
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  3. The Right Gear Makes a Huge Difference: You don’t have to have the best gear and you don’t have to have all the gear. Trust me, the local “Great Outdoors Store” would have you believe you need a heap of gear to get up and get out… but the reality is that we are not climbing Everest overnight, we are going on a hike for a couple of hours. Walking shoes are a must… but expensive boots are not essential. This may amaze you, but the most exciting discovery for us, is that a good pair of socks can cover a multitude of imperfect shoes. This year was the first year that I took notice of getting socks that actually fitted… my word, it is the difference between sore blistered feet after every single hike. And finally we are slowly but surely, birthday by birthday… replacing their packs with proper day packs, it does make a difference to be comfortable when you are walking and to have gear that is specially for hiking and not everyday… but it doesn’t have to be anything extravagant at all.
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  5. Document your hikes: And we always take before and after pictures. And you can see in some of those faces, what a couple of hours in the wild does for you… there is nothing liking the joy the being in the great out doors brings. And we try and get an awesome team shot… along the way. We always have a quiet moment… when we spend 2 minutes just listening. Otherwise we are starting to know… what flowers to expect in which season, what animals we might find along the way. It is good to get familiar with a vast area… of wildness. But when we can’t make it to the nature reserve, there is always a walk closer to home… just get outside and the great outdoors will find you.

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  6. The Fifteen Minute Rule: The first time we hiked we had to institute the fifteen minute rule, which is something like this: We won’t decide at the very start if we are going to push on, we will first walk for fifteen minutes and then assess how we feel. Very often at the start of the hike there will be one or two folk who just can’t face it… the early start, just not in the mood… so many factors can be working internally against us. So we give it fifteen minutes of walking in the great outdoors before we decide if we can’t face it. Our very first hike was exactly fifteen minutes, but I made the mistake of saying we would turn back after fifteen minutes, so we did. After that I learnt that we would “assess” after fifteen minutes, because that’s just long enough to get that “great outdoors feeling” and not want to turn back – ever!!!

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  7. There is a Time for Rest: When we started hiking it used to be all about stopping rather than walking. If someone wanted a some water we all stopped, if someone wanted a bite to eat, we all stopped… if someone wanted to tie their laces, we all stopped and if someone wanted to climb a good looking rock… we all stopped. There was a lot of stopping. But hiking is so much better if you can find your rhythm and roll with it. So now we check laces before we take the first step and for most hikes we know the route, so we designate places to stop. We choose good places to sit and picnic, not to mention play… because hiking legs might get tired, but playing/climbing legs are always ready to be doing something. Our rests are long enough to rest and recover and have something to eat and then roll out again. And this guy can sleep anywhere…

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  8. We Always Stop to Look at the Wildlife: it is such privilege to see these incredible animals outdoors in their own habitats. We stop, we watch, we photograph and we draw. We don’t go too close, though sometimes we turn a corner and come face to face… As soon as an animal shifts or moves even a muscle, you know that an animal senses you and feels you are in their space. By stepping back a little and just sitting quietly we have managed to watch so many creatures that we would never have seen just by driving through the park.
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  10. Different Folks Get Different Jobs: Some kids are great at leading the way, some kids are not. Some kids are great at making sure no-one lags behind, some kids are not. Some kids are great encouragers to folk that want to give up and others not so much. So we work with our strengths and by now most folk know where they fit in the scheme of important roles on a hike. There is often a bit of shuffling of status at the start of a hike as folk want try new positions. But after a little while they end up back in their roles, it works, everyone is happy and off we go.
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  12. Leave No Trace: It has become a little bit of a game for us to leave no trace behind, apart from the obvious “don’t litter…” No broken sticks, no turned up stones, no smashing footprints… if we look at something we put it back. Whatever you are looking at is part of an eco-system and we want to leave those little homes just the way we found them. We have found so many hikers leave “organic litter” on trails… to be honest if you were meant to find old apple cores or egg shells in the fynbos, then their would be apple trees and chickens running about. There aren’t and folk should take their organic rubbish home and compost it. (I am not even going to mention dogs and why we prefer hiking in the reserve where dogs are not allowed). We do find, even in the most remote places: cooldrink bottles and glass bottles. So now we just take a bag along and like a beach clean-up, we do a hike clean up.

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The Sirkelsvlei Hike

It seemed fitting that with summer headed our way and some kids with summer jobs and others with looming camps… that this would be our last visit all together as one gang for a little while. So we decided to revisit the hike that we began all our hiking with… the one we gave up on after fifteen minutes… and then managed a month later, The Sirkelsvlei Hike at Cape Point:

The first time we hiked this route 18 months ago

The Sirkelsvlei hike, starts at Olifantsbos…

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And there is always wildlife to look at here…

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Up the mountain and across the plain,

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Through Koggelman’s Arch,

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That you don’t even realise is there until you stumble upon it…

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Then on across the plains again…

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To Sirkelsvlei…

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And then back through the Reed Flats, fields and fields of restios towards the coast…

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Then looking down on the Shipwreck Trail…

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And past ghostly ships…

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Past the look out post…

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And back to the start…

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Then the Baboons Came Out to Play…

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Other Hikes in Cape Point.

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19 Replies to “From Amblers to Hikers Step by Step and the SirkelsVlei Hike…”

  1. I have loved your hiking series, and I am grateful for being inspired to do a weekly hike in the mountains again – it is the best thing we do all week (once we finally get ourselves out the door).

  2. Hay Corli… thank you. And yes it is always the first step that is the hardest step. I try and roll out the door before anyone is too conscious, it is my secret trick. though I think certain kids are onto me. Hope you are having a fabulous week!!!

  3. Thank you Cat, It has been quite a journey… It isn’t always as easy as it looks, getting everyone to work as a team is probably the biggest challenge every single time. But once you are out there it has to work and they rise to the occasion and it has been very good for all of us. Thanks so much for stopping by, hope you have a fabulous day!!!

  4. Oh Marcia, you can’t beat brotherly love – its a real thing!!! And yes roles it turns out are a rel thing too and some folk fit into certain roles better than others – and I am all for working with their strengths!!! Hope you guys are having a very good week… counting down the time to the holidays!!!

  5. Awesome! Cape Point is so wonderful. Did you see the terrapins at Sirkelsvlei? Best to do it on a calm day.

  6. Hi Lee, We have absolutely loved our hiking days at Cape Point, simply the best!!! I have to say we have never spotted a terrapin at Sirkelsvlei… but we have always been on very wild and windy days, so maybe next time the wind will be a bit kinder. Thank you so much for stopping by, have a great day!!!

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