Table Mountain Top 10 trail routes: #8 Three Single Tracks – Rhodes Memorial

At first I did not get trail running. “Why would anybody want to run uphill?”

Two Ocean's Trail Run 22km

Two Ocean’s Trail Run 22km route map

 

The downhill part was obvious and I was used to it, even with a heavy pack, but running uphill seemed energy inefficient to me. The seconds saved over a brisk walk did not seem to warrant the extra effort required. So I started jogging along the jeep tracks from Rhodes Memorial towards the city bowl, choosing the more level ones at first.

In contrast I have always enjoyed single tracks, flying along, having to pay attention in order to avoid a stubbed toe, crash or worse: a tumble. When Trevor Ball introduced the genius Two Ocean’s Trail Run route he connected some of the best single tracks in the area to make a truly fantastic and challenging route. For normal folks this would take 3h plus to complete and a large dose of effort so here I describe a shorter version – manageable in a quick 1h30 to 2h session. My Movescount gps file can be found here.

Three Singel Tracks

PP: Plumpudding Hill, Q: Queen’s Blockhouse, K: King’s Blockhouse, 1-3 indicating single tracks

Start:

From Rhodes Memorial parking area take the single track path for 100m up to the first jeep track contour. There are several variations here that all lead to the same point. Turn right and follow the jeep track for a few hundred meters into a shaded area. The track turns downhill at a gentle gradient. At the first fork stay left as the track turns sharply left and uphill. Immediately stay left and head up Plumpudding Hill. 100% runnable if you are strong and trying to prove your manliness! 2/3 of the way up the jeep track turns sharp left. A lone tree is visible above.

Plumpudding Hill

Lone Pine Tree on Plumpudding Hill

The first of our three single tracks start in this corner on the right. The vague track dips into the gully and climbs up the other side to cross a rusted barbed wire fence to eventually join a jeep track. Enjoy the cruise along this. You will meet a T-junction in a s-curve of the main jeep track. The Woodstock shooting range is below you in the gum trees. Turn left and up the slight hill which levels out after a couple of hundred meters. Just before the dry stream crossing there is a jeep track going uphill to the King’s Blockhouse. (If you continue straight here you miss out the second single track but rejoin the route a few hundred meters ahead.)

Up this hill, once again 100% run-able. After a little distance the track levels out (maybe you get to pass some mountain bikers on this section). The branch to the right is our choice. This ultimately leads to Tafelberg Road and can be used as a short cut, but not today. Our second single track awaits on the right, where the ground turns grey. Easy running through fynbos at its best leads us into a cork tree forest. We slowly lose a bit of height to reach the ruin of the Queen’s Blockhouse.

Queen

The Queen’s Blockhouse ruin

From here it is a short but very steep descent to a jeep track. Turn left. [Turning right would take you back to the top of the hill above the shooting range.] Through a dip and out the other side. At the top of the hill turn sharp left onto a zig zagging jeep track which snakes up the ridge in large arcs. At a point where the track levels out in direction City Centre there is our third single track which starts with a few steps and is marked by a cairn. Up this to the signal cannons just below Tafelberg Road. Cross the tar road onto a single track leading uphill. 50m on there is a left fork. Take this and it will level out pretty quickly. This is the lower Contour Path. All the way along here to just behind the King’s Blockhouse.

When standing at the cannons below the Blockhouse it is easiest to take the gently descending jeep track to the left. This snakes downhill. Once you have completed a complete S-curve you will see a wooden bridge and mountain bike track heading down the crest of the ridge. Down this. Enjoy the baarp! You will be spat out on top of Plumpudding hill to your left (facing out). You can either head down this and back to the start or find the super steep single track directly down from the beacon to the jeep track that you started from earlier on. As you can see from the map there are many options for shortcuts and more (or less)direct lines to be explored.

The coffee and cake at the restaurant is much deserved, the view is not bad either!

 

Myburgh’s Ravine: Top 10 trail running routes Table Mountain #4

nMyburghs RavineA real mountain run on a remote part of the mountain. The path is remarkably well worn. The actual Myburgh’s Ravine would probably be quite wet and treacherous in winter or after rain.

Myburghs Ravine map to startApproach: Drive up to Farrier’s Way from Valley Road. You will pass through a  and park your vehicle at the end of the road. Take care not to block any driveways.

The path heads up the hill (through a canopy of trees) about 50 m from the end of the Cul de Sac. Just behind the back line of houses there is a gate. You will need to call the number on the board to get the code for the gate.

Continue up to the contour path. Turn right and continue for a short while.

As soon as the path dips down a little and enters some trees, look out for a vague path branching off to the left. This is to the left of the stream. There are a few different options here but they all lead to the same place in the gorge. You will face a few short rock steps requiring care. The Ravine narrows and you will need to follow the river bed for a while. Cairns and a steep path up the right hand slope brings you out of the ravine.

The path winds up into the boggy reeds above. Continue to the crest of the rise where you will find the path. Turn left and up a step. Follow this to the top of Llundudno Ravine.

Down the scramble via some stainless steel ladder rungs.

When you hit the treeline just above the Suikerbossie Restaurant turn left. This path undulates a fair bit and the strong will be able to run it all. Take the first turn right after the wooden bridge to take you down to the start. You will need the code to access the gate again. This last 2.3 km is a great test of fitness.

7.3 km, 630m of ascent.

90 minutes is a pretty respectable time for this loop.

Find my movescount link here.

Caperoutes – a project from another decade

The Caperoutes concept was born as my second attempt in rock climbing route guides. It almost came to fruition 9 years ago. Life intervened and this project got shelved into the dusty archives of my external hard drive. I wanted to produce something new, unique and beautiful to look at. Caperoute’s aim was to provide accurate route information to facilitate your adventure. The mountains have not moved in the interim.

What inspired Caperoutes?

I love Dave Cheesemond’s Classic 50 Routes. This was and in many ways still can be a “to do” list of routes. My initial thoughts was to modernise this and make Caperoutes into the ultimate bucket list.

Why am I publishing this now?

I have put a ton of work into producing these mini guides. The Caperoutes guide as a whole is not complete but in its parts as mini guides to individual areas they make sense. Each mini guide hopefully gives the best routes in that area across various grades. This info has been sitting in a folder on my computer for too long. There is much fun adventure out there to be had. Hopefully these topos can help you find some of that for yourself.

Are they accurate?

As accurate as any guide out there. Yes there are mistakes as I discovered with The Ledge. There always will be and that makes for good stories around the gas stove.

Will they be published in a book?

Not by me (unless I get paid a whole bunch of money to make this worthwhile 😉 )

Why am I doing this now since I have not climbed in close to a decade?

I am not wanting to tread on anybody’s toes. There are fantastic route guides out there in print. Please support them. However there is also a huge gap. This project hopefully can complement what is out there.

So I trust the info is still relevant. Use it, share it, don’t use it. Whatever.

A picture is worth a thousand words:

Topos are the way forward! They are much easier to understand for locals and international visitors. The combination of photographs and sketched topos offer you the perfect amount of info without taking away from the experience.

I had big visions for this project but became overwhelmed by the enormity of it all. Several people inspired me along the way. Stefan, Tristan, Justin, Riki, the forgotten German. Thanks for supporting me when you did.

All material is original and I would really appreciate if you respect my copyright on it.

Here is the list of mini guides for you to download. Enjoy and leave a comment if you want.

Caperoute Symbols

Caperoute Tafelberg

Caperoutes Castle Rocks

Caperoutes Jonkershoek

Caperoutes Apostles

Caperoutes Krakadouw

Caperoutes Maltese Cross

Caperoutes Wolfberg

Caperoutes Yellowood Amphitheater

 

Top Ten Table Mountain Trail Routes: #2 Arboretum, Silvermine Loop

This is the second installment to document my Top Trail routes on Table Mountain. The first is here.

Tokai Silvermine trail run 260614Overview:

Super steep but (only just) runnable ascent to the fantastic loop around the Silvermine Dam. The route starts in forest plantation and takes you into the fynbos higher up.

Distance: 13 km (1h45 to 3h)

Total Ascent: 770 m

Total Descent: 770 m

Style of route: lolly pop

95 % single track, 5 % jeep track

Description:

Start at the Tokai Arboretum parking lot and go through the thatched arch. Up the main path and then find the single track which takes a pretty direct line up the hill. You will cross several jeep tracks to eventually get to the highest (Level 5) cross this and zig zag up to the ridge line. The last section is the most technical. Once you have reached the nek turn right towards Elephants Eye cave. Just below the fire lookout turn left and follow the level jeep track. This will join another dirt road heading up the hill. After a very short distance you will branch off left on a single track path. This traverses and climbs basically doing a long loop above and around the Silvermine Dam. You will hit the same dirt road as before (but on the other side of the valley). Down this to the dam. Skirt underneath the dam wall and into the parking lot. On the far side go up a single track path to a ridge line seperating you from Tokai. Left along here to where you came up. Follow the single track down to the start.

Recommended Tactics:

It will take some determination to run all the way up to the initial ridge and fire lookout. The angle is such that the temptation is rather big to walk in places. This route is 100% runnable bar the odd step around a boulder or two. A really good tester.

Water en route:

In wet weather you will find plenty streams. In dry months the dam is about half way and offers a great swimming spot!

Other info:

Park your car at the Arboretum. This is located at the end of Tokai Road. There is a security guard on duty during office hours. Don’t leave anything in your vehicle as break ins happen outside of these hours.

Public Transport: There is no public transport access to the start.

Supporter Activities: The Arboretum is a great spot for family and children to play and have some coffee and cake while you play on the trails. The nearby Porter Market on Saturday mornings is just around the corner. This is also the launching point for Cape Town’s best mountain biking.

Other Info: Trail and Tar is a great mountain biking and trail running store only a few minutes away. Staff are active and knowledgeable and can assist with directions, gear and the sale of last minute nutrition.

leo_rust’s 1:43 h Running Move #RunningMove.

PUFfer preparation 101:

Puffer workshop flyerI am lucky enough to have been asked by SSISA to talk about gear required for this year’s PUFfer so I thought I would add a few thoughts on general prep which might be useful to first timers of this trail run.

The Peninsula Ultra Fun run is only a few months away. Those entered should certainly spend a fair amount of time thinking about how best to prep for this iconic ultra.

This is the first of a couple of articles I want to write to help those that have not done the event before on their journey.

Here I will talk about the route and what you should know.

The basic route is fairly simple (start at Cape Point and finish at the pub in the V&A Waterfront) but with legal shortcuts which you should get to know early on to make your race day journey more pleasant.

There are a couple of sections you want to know well as every year runners get stuck here:

1)      Base of Red Hill short cut

Puffer Short cut Redhill 090614Pretty obvious. Take the footpath just after the statue sellers on the right.This cuts out the first right hand bend on the steep side of Redhill. Don’t try and be clever and cut out the next bend too.

 

 

 

 

2)      Top of Redhill to Lewis Gaye Dam

Puffer REdhill shortcut 090614You will find the path AFTER the sign for the hiking trail on the left and after the house with the big trees on the right. There are several options but they more or less go in the same general direction. Work it out…

 

 

3)      Lewis Gaye Dam to Black Hill

Pretty obvious but worth a recce as you don’t want to go the wrong way. The crux is really to take the single track to the right just before the big fence. There should be a few other runners around so hang with them if you are unsure.

4)      Sunvalley to Ou Kaapse Weg shortcut

Puffer Ou Kaapse WEg shortcut 090614When heading out of Sunvalley you can either follow the horrible camber tar section of Ou Kaapse Weg until the four way intersection at the Noordhoek turnoff or sneak right at a sandy patch and save many minutes.

 

 

5)      Ou Wapad Shortcut

Wait for the white sandy patch just before the right corner. Head left for a short distance until you hit the path going right. You will get your shoes wet here!

6)      You should know Vlakkenberg pretty well, also Constantia Nek to the Lower Cableway Station. This is the easiest of section to recce. Leave your car in the waterfront and catch the Myciti 109 bus into Hout Bay and get off at Imizamo Yetho and run the few km up to Constantia Nek and run back to your car!

7)      Oh and there are a few sneaks close to the end but I suggest you work them out 😉

Thanks to Kylie for the GPS track.

If you want a detailed route description by creator of this event Jean-Paul van Belle then click here or here. These are both links to older sites but the info is still very relevant.

Check out this article too which has a pretty good explanation of why we make silly mistakes late on in a race.

About bloody time: SANParks to Beef Up Security on Table Mountain

I have just read this release below. I personally know at least 5 people who have been attacked on Table Mountain. This is way too much! I hope that the promises made below are actually followed through and that this does improve everybodies safety of our mountain. Here the press release:

The Chief Executive Officer of South African National Parks
(SANParks), Dr David Mabunda, announced today that the organisation
will be dispatching armed rangers in the Table Mountain National
Park.

He said the impact of crime over the years in parts of the Table
Mountain National Park had resulted in a decision to increase the
number of rangers patrolling the area by 50. The park  currently
employs 43 rangers and 12 visitor safety officers. Over the next three
years efforts will be made to increase the number of additional
rangers by a 100 in total.

The rangers will be responsible for all matters related to the
functions of rangers in national parks including visitor safety,
visitor rescue, anti-poaching, disaster management, and crime
prevention in general.

SANParks has also decided to expand the number of dogs utilised in the
Park as these have been shown to be an effective mechanism in security
operations.

The recruitment process for the rangers will begin immediately.
Rangers will be trained to the same level of the Kruger National Park
rangers, with emphasis on safety, rescue and disaster management. It
is envisaged that the first recruits will report for duty within the
next three (3) months.

SANParks will continue to maintain its excellent relationship with
SAPS, the City Metro Police, the Province, and with its other partners
in a multi-stakeholder approach to combatting crime on Table Mountain.
The intervention enjoys the support of Western Cape Premier, Helen
Zille, who gave it her approval when Dr Mabunda contacted her on
Monday 04 April 2011.

Dr Mabunda said that “SANParks is aiming at making a significant dent
in the incidence of crime on Table Mountain. To achieve this SANParks
will be increasing the visibility of rangers on the TMNP and will be
providing the needed resources to ensure both an effective deterrent
and a quick response to crime scenes”.

He further said “We cannot allow the internationally iconic status of
TMNP to be negatively impacted by ongoing crime in this area. The
economic implications for the Cape Town City and the country are
significant, such that, together with our partners, we have to act
decisively in dealing with this issue. At the end of the day the Table
Mountain National Park is there for all, and we want both our domestic
and international visitors to be able to enjoy the Park to its fullest
without any fear”.

Issued by: SANParks Corporate Communications on behalf of Chief
Executive

BAt Run 09 race report

above: Tatum Loftus (1st women) and me rehydrating at the end.

I was here before:
The “gun” went off, Well actually more like a motley crew of mountain goats slowly headed up towards the hills, not quite running at sub 4min pace, not quite walking either. There was a larger supporting crowd than in previous years seeing us off. I found myself out in the lead pretty quickly- not exactly what I wanted to do but there was this tall guy (Simon von Witt) seriously pushing the pace. The early tar kays were ticking away far too quickly. This was insane. I tried to back off a bit in the hope that he would too but it did not work. One of us was going to blow. I just prayed that it would not be me!

The Bat Run was under way and I had put in all the training. Everything was looking good except the weather. Today was one of the hottest days this summer and the wind was picking up. Hmm we would have to see what happens…

The Bat Run is a limited entry event which starts at Kloof Nek at 19h00 on the full-moon weekend in Feb. The route takes runners to the top of Devil’s Peak, back down to Tafelberg Road, up Platteklip Gorge, down to Kloof Nek, it is then followed by a quick jaunt up Lion’s Head. The finish is at Kloof Nek. Only 25 km, 2085m of ascent and descent all run in the dark and finish in under 4h05 to break the record. Easy init?

We ran along Tafelberg road to the zig zags leading up to the Nek (16min27 ). Faster than I had ever done this in training. Simon was right on my heals all the way up to the Nek. Thunder Clouds were gathering in the intense heat. I threw water on my head to cool things down a little. Lightning flashes got closer and closer. Retina burn! Time to put my head down and just keep going. I was hoping to be able to open a bit of a gap between me and Simon just to take the pressure off a little. It was not really working! Ironically I figured that the worse conditions got the better my chance of winning was. My mountaineering background would hopefully help me here.
That is not why I was here though. I knew for a while that the record should be at 3h30 to 3h40 range. On paper it is doable. The question is “Am I up to the task?”. Right now conditions weren’t helping and the question mark was getting bigger and bigger. Top of Devil’s Peak and a quick turn around (53min). At least now I did not have to look into the lightning flashes and just concentrate on the slippery slidy down hill. I was going full blast but feeling surprisingly relaxed. Just almost falling down the slope. I hit the road not daring to look behind me for fear that I would see Simon a few paces behind. A quick jog along the road and I reached Mel and friendly seconds at the bottom of Platteklip (1h17).

There was no need to use my BD Icon headlamp. The moon was behind the clouds but it was bright enough for the plod up the gorge. Step, step, step, hydrate, throw water on head, step, step. I was barely on pace at the halfway point. 37 min up Platties certainly is not fast but that was all I was capable of. Eric Tollner was taking some pics at the top. It was really nice to see him. Even better was the fact that it was completely dry. No moisture on the slippery steps meant that coming down would be fast. I had to think economy as far as hydration goes. The temps were so hot that I had to use quite a lot of water to just cool down, let alone get it down my throat. I was only a few minutes past the top of Platteklip when I could see the light on top of Maclear’s Beacon. The guys at the checkpoint had placed the guiding star strategically so that would could all see how windy our little path was. Touch the beacon and a quick turnaround. This would be the first time that I would be able to tell how far anybody was behind me. 4minutes passed until I passed the second runner. Jayde Butler and Roger Steel (this time without a hat- I guess the moon was not too bright!) were not far behind. Down Platties in went really well (20min). My legs were going strong. I was not even thinking about conserving them too much. Just running in the moment. Many lovely greetings of runners coming up- Thanks to you all! I always find it very hard to recognise everyone in the dark especially when I am trying not to break my legs running downhill. Tafelberg Road and a water refill from my seconds! Espresso Gel kicked in none too soon to. In fact seeing as I never drink coffee this double shot of espresso (and the serious dose of adrenaline) kept me awake the whole night. Herda cycled next to me down to Kloof Nek. The company was quite nice despite me not being able to talk much. My brain was maxed just trying to work out splits and keep me on pace. I was really surprised to see such a large crowd at the Nek cheering me on.

The most dangerous part of the course- crossing the Kloof Nek Circle went ok. Then walk up the short section of tar to the Lion’s Head parking. A friendly park official tried to dissuade me from walking up. “But I am part of the race…”. “Oh ok…good luck” And I was gone. The circular route is real pretty with its changing vistas as you circle the peak. It is even better alone and in the dark. The crowds we had seen earlier heading up for a sunset walk had obviously realised that their excursion up this lightning pole was probably not such a good idea. Not a single soul was left on top. No wind, just a little drizzle. Just enough so that I would have to watch my footing on the sandy steps. Go, go, go. Down the chains and run forest run. Ok, unless something real bad happened now I was in the clear.
I congratulated second (Alister Pott) and then Jayde in third (go boykie, go). Jayde had been throwing up on his way down Platties but managed to keep things together and fight back until the end. Well done mate!

Roger was looking strong and relaxed as ever in forth.

I savoured the last few minutes down to the Nek on my own. I had given this run my all. I have never run as hard as this before and am happy with the result.
3h46- beat that boys!

Thanks to all who encouraged and rooted for me.