My heart of Stone

It is always a wonderful moment when you first catch sight of the iconic “Mannetjie” that gives Mannetjiesberg in the Kammanssie its name. It is a towering rocky pinnacle on the eastern side of the mountain that is part of an inselberg in the middle of the Klein Karoo. A thin veneer of soil coating the ancient rocks is home to myriads of plants and lots of rare endemics. Wandering around the camp on the second evening, , Peter picked up a large heart-shaped piece of sandstone. It wasn’t long before it was being referred to as ”Mannetjiesberg’s heart of stone”.

A couple of days before the Kammanassie trip, the temperature was hitting an unseasonal 40 degrees, defying the commonly-held belief that Summer only arrives in the Southern Cape after Christmas. I was terrified that the heat wave would put paid to our long-awaited trip to Mannetjiesberg. For anyone, temperatures of 40 degrees are not suitable for climbing mountains or botanical exploring. If you are from Wales and are used to a temperate climate, it would have been total madness. Already, Robbie and Ben of Fossil Plants had to curtail their trip to Marloth. After climbing 10 o'clock Peak, the heat forced them to retreat and cut short that trip. They are plant fanatics and growers and have a permit to collect seed from certain Proteaceae species. Repeated anxious searches of Yr.no produced good news on the whole, so Peter, Robbie, Ben and I set off in the Drifter at the unaccustomed departure time of 9.30 on Monday. The Drifter was loaded to the gunnels and we looked as if we were taking off on the original African safari. I am a fairly novice 4x4 driver, so there was an undercurrent of anxiety in the “looking forward” to 3 days in the mountains. Bill was in Cape Town attending a function where he was honoured as one of the “Western Cape Sports Legends”. He was confident that I would cope, although I wasn’t so sure.

Just as we reached the first steep bit, we came round a corner and there were 2 Cape Nature bakkies parked on the jeep track, where they were busy repairing the road. There was no way that I was going to reverse, so in some trepidation, I got out of the bakkie to start negotiating. In doing so, I nearly stood on one of the largest Puff Adders that I’ve ever seen. Obligingly he (or she) slithered away under the car and disappeared. I was delighted to see that the person in charge of the repair operations was Phillip Esau. We go back a very long way and Phillip has always been a huge help to us and given the Outramps lots of support on all our Kammanassie trips. I received a big hug and a very warm welcome. He had earlier given us permission for this expedition. It wasn’t long before the 2 bakkies were tucked into the corner and we were on our way to camp below the Mast Peak. As soon as we had set up camp, we went our separate ways – Robbie and Ben to retrace the jeep track on foot towards Mannetjiesberg, Peter ran up to the Mast Peak and then came down the ridge to the shelter, where he met me on the jeep track heading west. That evening we met again, did a “Heath Robinson” heating up of a delicious lasagne, had a couple of dops of wine and were early to bed in fairly freezing conditions caused by an icy southeaster.

On Tuesday morning we were off at first light, starting to walk at 6am, while tendrils of mist still curled in and out of the rocks on the ascent. The 3 guys climbed Mast Peak, then negotiated the ridge heading east and climbed Mannetjies, descended down the ridge and walked along the jeep track back to the camp. At a much slower pace I crutched my way up to the summit of Mast Peak, then headed west mainly downhill until I reached the jeep track. En route, I passed the shelter, which is perfectly usable - something to keep in mind for future occasions. After a quick lunch break, I made for the nek leading to the Perdevlakte, before turning round to head back to camp. I had a simply wonderful time, as did the 3 intrepids on their very ambitious expedition. A beautiful sunset rounded off a memorable couple of days.

We were on our way home fairly early the next morning. En route we made a brief sortie into Camferskloof and returned via the very dry Montagu Pass.

So what specials did we find? Here is a preliminary list with some plants still to be confirmed.
Protea rupicola – (Endangered) common on the higher reaches in all the rock crevices
Protea venusta – (Endangered) only 2 plants seen all day (worrying?)
Leucadendron singulare (Vulnerable)
Agathosma zwartbergense (Vulnerable)
Elegia altigena (Vulnerable
Bobartia paniculata (Rare)
Erica inordinata (Rare)
Cyclopia plicata – (Endangered) abundant in the area
Cyclopia alopecuroides – (Endangered) about 70 plants seen
Aspalathus congesta (Rare)tbc
Aspalathus patens (Rare) tbc
Aristea nana (Rare)
Syncarpha montana (Rare)
Mastersiella spathulata (LC)
Leucadendron rourkei (LC)
Liparia genistoides - (Endangered) tbc
Numerous Ericas have still to be id’d. Have sent the stukkies to Jen and will have the results ITFOT.

And now it only needs the final Reportback to be completed and sent out next week. It will feature the highs and lows of 2017. The Outramps will be taking a short sabbatical over Christmas.
Hamba Kahle
Groete en dankie
Di Turner
Outramps CREW Group
Southern Cape

All id’s subject to confirmation by Doc Annelise and Jan Vlok, Steven Molteno Dr Tony Rebelo, Nick Helme, Prof Charlie Stirton, Dr Robert Archer, Dr Robert McKenzie, Dr Ted Oliver, Christopher Whitehouse, Derek Tribble, Adriaan Grobbler, Prix Burgoyne, Dr Kenneth Oberlander, Dr Pieter Winter, Dr David Gwynne-Evans and Damion. Thank you all for your ongoing help and support. The South African community is busy migrating to iNaturalist and we will soon have projects etc up and running. When they are ready, I will provide you with the links.

Abbreviations Glossary
MCSA – Mountain Club of South Africa
MSB - Millenium Seed Bank based at Kew in the UK
WIP – Work in Progress
HAT – High Altitude Team
LOT – Lowland Team
SIM – Somewhere in the Middle Team
WAGS – Wednesday Adventure Group
VB – Vlok Boekie “Plants of the Klein Karoo” and our Plant Bible
ITRTOL – Another thread “In The Rich Tapestry Of Life”(It describes a challenging situation, usually to do with the Buchu Bus)
ITFOT – In the fullness of time
WOESS – Fair Weather Hiker
FMC and JW – too vulgar to translate, but the equivalent is “Strike me Dead” An expression of surprise and delight on finding a new “Rare”
Kambro – same as above
Fossick – A meter per minute, scratching around looking for rares
SIDB – Skrop in die Bos – Another name for a field trip, this one coined by Prix
BAFFING – Running round like a blue-arsed fly
SYT – Sweet Young Thing - Anyone under the age of 40
TOMB – Get a move on
Mayhem - Needless or willful damage or violence
SESKRYNG – “Sit en staan kry niks gedaan” ,with thanks to Brian
SOS – Skelms on Scramblers
FW – Idiot
BOB – Another name for the Buchu Bus when she’s misbehaving.
CRAFT – A symptom of Old Age
DDD - Metalasia tricolor (Damned Diabolical Daisy)
VP – Vrekplek – Retirement Village
Qàq – Self-explanatory Inuit word describing some of our local problems
Mr Fab – Our Fabaceae specialist, Brian Du Preez – originally Boy 1
Muisvoel -The Mathematician – Peter Thompson
Boy 2 – Kyle Underwood who works on Orchids and is still at school
Sharkie – Finn Rautenbach – Our latest SYT is a surfer in his spare time
Sicko – Someone who suffers from Car Sickness. With 4 in the Group, allocating seating in the Buchu Bus is tricky
VAG – Virgin Active Garage, which is our meeting place when we head north
MATMUE – Meet At The Mall Under E - Meeting place when we head West
WG – Waves Garage in Wilderness East. - Meeting place when we’re going east.
VU- Vulnerable
DDT – Data Deficient and Taxonomically ?
NT – Near Threatened
EN – Endangered
CR – Critically Endangered
PE – Presumed extinct
LC – Least Concern
TBC – To be Confirmed
TLC – Tender loving care
JMS – An expression of absolute disdain
FOMO – Fear of Missing Out
Milk – the fruit of the vine
Condensed Milk – Scotland’s finest export
Full Cream Milk or Fat Milk – Any product of Humulus lupulus eg. Milk Stout
Milk of the Gods – Rooibos and Brandy
Milk Shake - Sparkling Wine
NS – Species of conservation concern new to the Outramps
PS -Priority Species allocated to the Outramps by our CREW Cape Co-ordinator , Ismail Ebrahim
iNFD – iNaturalist for Dummies as compiled by Sally

Posted by outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi, January 02, 2018 11:22

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