Monday, October 23, 2006

Miscellaneous pics from Kirstenbosch and Tortoise True Love

Since I'm staying at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden while I'm doing my field season, I have the opportunity to walk the paths around the garden almost every day. This posting is just a bunch of miscellaneous pics from walks taken on Thursday.

This first one is a work crew who is restoring the sign for "Smuts Pad" (Jan Smuts path) at the junction of the controu path and the trail up through Skeleton's Gorge. We walked up Skeleton Gorge on Sunday, but that's the subject of another post. Right now I'm about four days behind in processing my pictures and in getting things posted to the blog. That's because my days are pretty full right now and I don't have a lot of spare hours to sit at my computer to catch up on my posting. I'll eventually catch up, but not today.
This is one of the view of Kirstenbosch from the contour path of Table Mountain. I've been walking up to the contour path once or twice a day ever since I arrived in Cape Town. That's so that I can get in shape for the big hike this coming weekend in the Hexrivierberg. I need to work on my cardiovascular conditioning and strengthening my legs. We'll have an elevational change of about 1400 meters this weekend - all slogging uphill the first day and down the next. Thus, my walks up the flanks of Table Mountain to get a good, long workout.

Along the path I usually walk on the contour, we pass over four ravines/streams. The first one on the western end of the walk is Window Gorge, then Skeleton Gorge, then Nursery Ravine, and finally, Vaalkat Ravine. The habitats and vegetation change dramatically along the path, which is one of the reasons I enjoy walking it.

This is a view looking up Nursery Ravine from the contour path.

This is the view looking down Nursery Ravine. You can't really get the perspective of the slope, which is pretty steep.

Here's Esprit on the edge of Nursery Ravine. Esprit has been such a big help to me during this field season. She's also been a real trooper with all of the conditioning hikes we've been doing.

After we come down from the contour path, there's a road that goes by the Kirstenbosch reservoir. This is a view looking to the west. The large prominence of the backside of Table Mountain is called Fernwood Buttress. That's the view of Table Mountain I see everyday while I'm at Kirstenbosch.

Going down the hill to the next level you reach the upper part of the cultivated gardens at Kirstenbosch. On Thursday morning we came across a padlopertjie (small road walker). This is a small tortoise that can move rather fast. It took a real shine to Esprit's shoe.

In fact, it literally ran after her, chasing her shoe.

"Where have you been all my life? Will you marry me?????"

"Come away with me. You don't need the human."

"I'll never let you go. You must stay with me!"

This is a mother Egyptian goose and her babies. I'd normally say, "goslings," but the Egyptian goose is really just a very large duck, so these are ducklings.

The second walk of the day was in the late afternoon through dark. Dennis and Gigi Laidler walked the contour path with us. This is a view of Window Stream from the contour path.

One of the things we all enjoy doing on these evening walks is to take pictures of plants and other interesting sites. It is usally dark by the time we come down the mountain, so lighting becomes a bit dodgy and pics are often blurry.

Here's Dennis steadying his camera with the aid of his walking stick.

We found this really interesting vine up a slope from the trail and wanted to take the pics.

Here's another interesting tangle.

Here's the sunset view of the back of Table Mountain as seen from the contour path. It's really fun to walk down the mountain in the dark and to hear all of the night sounds. We usually hear the Spotted Eagle Owls, Coucals and Nightjars. We've seen a fledgling owl learning to fly and we've been treated to the first fireflies of the season. Kirstenbosch is a magical place at night and I feel so lucky to be able to experience while I'm here for my field season.

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