A magical Weekend

Here are the PHOTOS. . For captions or info click on i on the top right-hand side. A good way to go - the Slideshow is found at the top of the page on the rt hand side by clicking on the 3 dots. Featured this week - Haarwegskloof, Hartenbos Heuwels with the Butterfly Man, a search and rescue mission and Spitskop with MCSA.

Spitskop in the Northern Swartberg
The trip through Meiringspoort must be one of the most dramatic and beautiful drives in the world. The towering cliffs of the Cape Folded Mountains reach high up into the sky, dwarfing the mere mortals who drive through the poort on the valley floor. We arrived at Wilgemond on the northern side of the Swartberg in late afternoon to join the Mountain Club on their expedition to climb Spitskop. The pictures in the Album give you some idea of the beauty of this house and its furnishings, making it a very pleasant and affordable stay.

Bill and I started off on the climb, considerably earlier than the rest and almost in the dark. For most of the day, the mist was swirling around and visibility was at a premium. Predictably, Bill wanted to do the ascent of Spitskop from the north, whilst I was quite happy at the thought of just climbing Consolation Peak slightly north of Spitskop at a height of 1846 meters. The Mountain Club party caught up with us, as we were starting to climb the ridge leading to Spitskop. The moment there is rock-scrambling involved, I am unable to use the crutches and it becomes a severe struggle. When Bill caught his foot in a rock crevice, it was clear that our speed was hampering the party. So we bailed out and climbed Consolation Peak instead. There was plenty to keep me interested.

Felicia oleosa Rare) was scattered all over the mountain. Protea montana (Vulnerable) and Protea venusta (Endangered) were found on the southern slopes below Consolation. Rafnia rostrata ssp pluriflora (Rare) is growing well after the most recent fires and we were delighted to find “Vat hom Fluffie”, Cyclopia alopecuroides (Foxtail Honeybush Tea-Endangered). Helichrysum saxicola (Rare) was also growing out of a rock crevice. On the descent from Consolation Peak we found Phylica nigromonatana (Rare) and a very green, very strange plant hiding under a rocky overhang. Unusually, Jan doesn’t know what it is. We will need to pursue this id.

After a very convivial evening, we left early next morning to drive along the north to Prince Albert and then home via the Swartberg Pass. Thank you Cheryl and the Mountain Club for allowing us to share this trip with you. It was a magical weekend.
tanniedi

Here is Evie’s account of a search for a lost Georgite and the ascent of Spitskop from the north.
HAT Evie’s Leaky Dam report.
A Saturday (5 May) hike – only Tony and myself. Beautiful day on the mountain. Some of us hikers call it the “Leaky Dam”, as it leaks through weep holes in the dam wall – official name “George Dam” – water now harnessed within the “Garden Route Dam”. The dominant plant today was the very colourful Erica unicolor subsp georgensis (EN). Red and yellow covered the slopes. Super to see this red listed Outeniqua Erica making such an impact. On the higher slopes closer to the Dam – tall grey Mimetes pauciflorus(VU). Pretty Liparia hirsuta -just beginning to show some new pea flowers.

However, a difficult day for both of us. We formed part of a search party (South Cape MCSA members and others). The search was for a George resident who had gone missing 5 days earlier. We combed the area from Saasveld/ Pepsi pools/Leaky dam and returned via a different route. We peered into various openings in the thick Fynbos- followed old disused paths, scanned the gorge below- to no avail. The Fynbos is currently exceptionally thick.

(Note- news since my outing - the missing person was found a couple of days later - in fact in the forested area close to his home suburb). Sadly, this looks like suicide.

HAT Evie’s report: The Peak at Spitzkop in the Swartberg.
One of my favourite peaks in the Swartberg. An interesting ridge line, followed by a bell shaped rocky peak – which looks impossible while standing just below the peak – however a few sideways scuttles, and a few more rocks and cracks to climb up and down in- and hey presto the peak itself is gained.

I climbed the Peak as part of an SC. MCSA meet – a party of 11 hikers (including Outramps Dave Underwood) made the peak. Sadly, the views were hampered by swirling mist – only the odd opening to view the steep ridges and huge boulders below, and catching a glimpse of the farms way down in the distance.

The plants were saying “We were burnt about 18 months ago- don’t expect too much!” Dave and I were amazed to discover how many different plants of the ground Proteas there were. Both Protea scolopendriifolia and Protea montana were thriving on one of the south facing slopes. About 3 years ago Brian (Mr Fab) and I had difficulty finding more than a few plants in the extremely dense overgrowth.
On the peak much debate – were the low growing Protea bushes/-old seed heads only, Protea venusta (EN), Evie’s guess, or in fact Protea rupicola(EN). One of the party promptly solved the debate -a ‘WhatsApp ‘to our local Annelise Vlok – They are in fact Protea rupicola. Some of the old seed heads – look like a shaving brush!!

Evie

A note from Peter Thompson, one of our 2 Master’s students at Stellies
Haarwegskloof- Buffelsjagrivier - Koleskloof
I spent the weekend of the 28th of April on Haarwegskloof for Jannie's birthday. On Friday we headed out to the western side of Grootvadersbosch to see what we could find. The highlight for me was seeing Protea lorea for the first time, although it was not in flower. From here we drove to the Buffeljagsrivier Dam where Jannie showed me Stapelia divaricata (Vulnerable) and a multitude of Haemanthus sanguineus pushing out their fresh foliage.

We spent that night at Wolfkloof near Swellendam, where I was lucky enough to see Nerine humilis in mass flower (easily thousands of plants under a pine forest). On Saturday, we headed to Koleskloof near De Hoop, where we were rewarded with Velthemia capensis and a Scadoxus species. Both of these were a first for me.

I'm making progress with my masters and will be sure to fill you in when I see you again!
Peter Thompson

Hartenbos Heuwels with the Butterfly Man – Thursday 10th May 2018
Dave Edge has been appointed to do a butterfly survey at Hartenbos Heuwels where they are planning a large property development. A few weeks ago, he contacted the Outramps to find out if we were familiar with the area. None of the group knew it, but LOT expressed an interest in visiting this piece of ground north east of Mossel Bay. Dave organized to take a few of us into this area on Thursday 10th May.

On Thursday morning it was a real treat to be collected at my front door in Brenton. We then picked up Gail and Ann and headed west. After being let into the property, we made our way towards the reservoir, stopping to look at anything interesting along the way. Dave was particularly interested in looking for Hermannias, possible host plants for Aloeides trimeni southeyae, a rare butterfly found in a restricted range, seen on this site. Hermannia saccifera was not in flower but a few plants of the numerous Hermannia lavandulifolia had lovely yellow bells hanging from their branches. Arriving at the reservoir, we quickly bagged the beacon before exploring the site. Crossyne guttata leaves were popping up from the hard clay soil, their dried flower heads blown off the bulbs and wedged in other vegetation. Clumps of Drimia elata leaves (DDT) were also making an appearance. As the morning progressed, the pink flowers of Oxalis confertifolia (DDT) and Oxalis imbricata var. violacea opened. We also think there was a population of Carpobrotus muirii (NT), but no flowers make ID’s tricky.

All too soon it was time to head back east. Thank you, Dave, for organizing a trip to this piece of Groot Brak Dune Strandveld new to the Outramps and for doing all the driving. We had a most enjoyable outing. We hope that some of this interesting vegetation is preserved by the developers.

On Friday I did a local walk in Brenton and am happy to report that the Nanobubon hypogaeum (EN) population on the fire break is doing well. Wendy Dewberry invited Fred and I to visit the Noetzie Conservancy Outdoor Classroom on Monday. It is recovering well after the fire with a healthy population of Oxalis pendulifolia (NT) providing lots of colour.
Nicky van Berkel

That covers a very busy week, with the members of the Outramps CREW Group going in different
directions to explore both lowland and high altitude habitats. In our next Reportback, we will cover the GCBR meeting at Rooiberg Lodge, an adventurous trip to the Rooiberg Massif in the Drifter and a field trip to Robinson Pass in search of Oxalis ioeides. This report will be sent out some time in the middle of the week. Then we will revert to normal (almost) with our usual crack of dawn Monday missive.
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 Grobler, Prix Burgoyne, Dr Kenneth Oberlander, Dr Pieter Winter, Dr David Gwynne-Evans and Mattmatt on iNat. Thank you all for your ongoing help and support.

Posted by outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi, May 21, 2018 12:40

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