Sunday, October 8, 2023

Maliventures to Elsie's Peak

To my utter shame, while I've done a pile of hikes in and around the Cape Peninsula ever since I could walk, the Elsie's Peak trail between Fish Hoek and Glencairn is one that I've not done before. It's not a long hike, and what makes it convenient is that it's on our doorstep – so it's possible to do in an hour if you have moderate fitness. 

The whole point of us getting more active at present is that we've got our "Maligator" Maia, a Belgian Malinois, who is very active – which is good for us as it gets us out of the house regularly. Elsie's Peak is, additionally, also dog-friendly. We do follow the standard etiquette of keeping our pooch on lead in the veld and brought poop bags along. 

We parked on the Glencairn Heights side of the mountain, right up at the top of Golconda Road – since it was closer to home and according to the map would get us on the mountain a lot sooner. Standard protocols apply – don't go do this hike on your lonesome, wear a hat, put on sunblock, and make sure that you've got sturdy shoes. 

The paths are well marked but there are plenty little branches that segue off, so it helped that I've downloaded the very useful All Trails app, that I'll be using henceforth. Kudos to SANParks for maintaining this piece of land so well. I did not see a single invasive alien the entire walk. (Our area really has an infestation of Acacia saligna, hakea, and Australian myrtle that compete with the indigenous fynbos.)

I had a few great sights of local plants in spectacular bloom, especially the delicious sour fig (Carpobrotus deliciosus) and tree pincushion (Leucospermum conocarpodendron). Of course the highlight of this hike is the elevation – you get an astonishing view of False Bay and surrounds, and although the last bit of uphill coming around the peak had me huffing and puffing a little (I'm not quite fit as I should be) this was well worth the effort. Just be aware that if the southeaster is pumping, that you hold onto your hat. The wind was something else in places once we had reached the top. 

What I particularly love about the mountains is that it often feels like you arrive in a whole self-contained world once you hit the summit, surrounded by craggy grey sandstone tors and rippling expanses of conebushes, proteas, and pincushions. And when you spend time looking between, there are so many dazzling smaller flowers with brightly coloured faces.

If you're new to hiking or have small children, this is, I reckon, a suitable introductory walk. There is a bit of climbing and descending, so obviously take care of your knees and ankles, but for a morning or late afternoon excursion that's not going to eat up a pile of time, this is a good one. We're definitely going to add this to our list of regular hikes. 

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