You have to love bugs, ok maybe not love, but at least respect them. Most of them are tiny, yet I’ve seen the biggest man scream like a little girl at the sight of a bug. Sure spiders can get under anyone’s skin, but in general beetles and worms don’t carry the boo power to make me jump.
Yet on this one occasion taking a break in the “cave” or overhang after ascending Diagonal, I finished up munching and sipping on an electrolyte brew and slipped my backpack onto my back. As with slinging a pack on, some adjustments are called for, hip and chest straps, pulling and straightening of walking shorts. Thus I adjusted my apparel and equipment appropriately. After about three steps I knew something was wrong…in my pants. I proceeded to unclip and drop trou right there! Turns out while a was replenishing, a Darkling Beetle (Tok-Tokkie) had climbed onto my pack to inspect it and when I slipped my pack onto my back it managed to fall straight down my crack. I’m sure it was just as scary for him as it was for me. A view jumps later I managed to get him free from my pants and out into the veld safely.
Shortly after leaving the overhang the trail takes a sharp left towards the face of the mountain. The air temp drops slightly as the face opens up to large boulders covered with moss and surrounded by thick ferns. The trail continues like this for roughly 300 meters before opening up even more to reveal the obvious, Barrier Ravine is an waterfall segment. It’s fairly evident seeing the erosion of the vegetation towards the centre of the Ravine. Once the rainy season is in full swing thousands of liters of water will stream down the ravine, but I have yet to witness this.
The climb up the ravine is challenging as the erosion has caused plenty of foot placings to be loose. The trail itself is also fairly steep at some sections, coupled with a howling South Easter and ascending Barrier Ravine can be quite challenging. Nether the less the climb is fulfilling as the further you ascend the cliffs on both sides close in on the trail. This makes for a spectacular view down once reaching the top of the ravine. Once on top the trail edges to the left making it able to head to the first lookout point. It’s a great idea to stop and have a look off the peak as this is the first point. Due to being higher up than Lions Head it is possible to view Table Bay, Signal-hill and out as far as Robben Island. Following the quick break the trail continues to the right of the point heading towards a small little cave and a last little scramble before reaching the summit of the ravine.
This will also be the point at which you reach the Valley of the Red Gods. The trail is lined with numerous carved out paths through high grass. Due to their being so many paths it is easy to miss the turn off to continue through to the Eco Valley. On numerous occasions the trail becomes a hikers dream as it is engulfed by clouds. Most of the time when a cloud or “Table Cloth” reaches this side of the mountain its being carried on a South Eater off from Cape Points side which brings into account the wind chill factor. Still this is an epic trail and worth the chill.
The trail carries on with a slight decent before edging to the left into a sharp ascending boulder section. This section is short as the trail will then roll into the Eco valley and specifically the Clifton side. A sharp decent then follows into the bowl of the valley where you will find the second marker on this trail. Being a valley and going through it, what goes down, must go up. The path then takes you up and over through the Eco valley. For as long as I can remember there have been wooden walkways for the protection of the fynbos, coupled by some bouldering and the occasional steel ladder, the trail is tuff, windy, but ever rewarding as it reveals spectacular views of Cape point, the Indian and Atlantic Ocean as well as views down cliffs onto the Clifton shoreline.
A 40 minute walk along the Eco Valley path will lead to the joining point at Platteklip Gorge. It is at this junction where its important to avoid the tourists stumbling there way down the chains section from the upper Cable Station and to keep a lookout for the warning signs indicating the path to the “treacherous” yet beautiful India Venster and part 3 of this post.