In the Shadows of Fouriesberg

This field trip to the North-Western Outeniquas proved to be a kaleidoscope of new experiences, which is remarkable, if you consider that one’s 80th birthday is approaching with the speed of Summer lightning. The Buchu Bus was driven down a track much more suitable for a proper 4x4 and rattled across it without any obvious damage to either the occupants or herself. It was certainly the most testing terrain that has faced the BOB and she came out with flying colours. And instead of our usual tuna and smash from the squatter camp kitchen, we ate gourmet meals, which included a stir-fry with couscous and a delicious mince concoction of Evie’s. It was a wonderful 2 days and I’m delighted to find that I still enjoy rough camping.

We met Mr Fab at Eight Bells on the Robinson Pass and then drove west. We received a very warm welcome from Cornel Fourie. His farm Paardebont is at the foot of Fouriesberg and life is very hard out there in the middle of nowhere. A fire 2 years ago killed a whole lot of his cattle and razed many 100’s of hectares. It took out most of the fencing and to date, he has received no compensation from the Dept of Agriculture. He tells hair-raising tales of the fire and how his house narrowly escaped being engulfed in the 40m high flames. They were fire-fighting for 3 whole exhausting days. Now, simply doing enough to keep body and soul together, takes up all his energy and time. For him, financial recovery seems to be a far distant dream.

He drove ahead of us through rocky riverbeds filled with huge boulders and through thick sand that had the Buchu Bus slewing sideways. He assured me that the vehicle would make it. Well it did, but I must have aged about 10 years in the process. Finally, I said, “So far and no further” and we set up our squatter camp some 300m downstream of the water hole. Leaving the cars mostly unpacked, we headed up the jeep track that leads to the base of Elandsberg. The slopes were gloriously yellow with a mixture of Aspalathus acanthes and sceptrum-aureum. Vygies provided vibrant patches of magenta along the way. A worrying feature was a huge upsurge of post-fire Hakea sericea. We must institute biological control and we must do it soon. If we don’t, the veld is going to be lost to this predatory invader in the foreseeable future.

It was a crack of dawn start the next morning. Evie and Brian set off to climb Fouriesberg and I walked up a branch of the jeep track heading up the water course. This only continued for about 300m, so I went back to the Elandsberg jeep track and followed it right up to the end. The only new Rare found on this section was Acmadenia tetragona and there was confirmation that Rafnia vlokii and the Otholobiunm extended higher up the mountain. Evie and Brian had a long day, but didn’t encounter any huge difficulties in their 800m ascent of Fouriesberg. They did have some tricky route-finding and some rock scrambling on the ridge near the summit. For both of them it was a first ascent. They were delighted to see fields of Geissorhiza roseoalba just below the top and Brian came back with an Otholobium not seen on the lower reaches. He also managed to collect 12 different Thesiums for Daniel, who is a student working with Prof Muthama Muasaya at UCT.

After a very pleasant evening and a windy night, we drove back into the real world first thing on Thursday morning - Mr Fab to continue his field trips, Evie to pack up for her ascent of Sleeping Beauty with the MCSA on Saturday and Di to organise the entertainment for the Interclub Regatta at George Lakes Yacht Club. I got home to the news that Bill has to have an emergency hip replacement in Cape Town today. What with lots of curved balls hurtling around, “It’s a good life if you don’t weaken”.

Rares seen on the Jeep track
Leucadendron conicum – Near Threatened
Aspalathus pedunculata – Rare
Lotononis filifolia – Endangered. These were scattered along the jeep track for about 1km
Rafnia vlokii – Vulnerable – Sparsely scattered over the higher reaches for about 3km
Serruria fasciflora – Near Threatened
Macledium sp. nova – TBC
Argyrolobium rarum- Rare
Otholobium sp. nova or carneum - TBC
Tritonia pallida ssp taylorae - Vulnerable
Acmadenia tetragona – Near Threatened
Pelargonium denticulatum - Rare

Rares seen on Fouriesberg
Acmadenia tetragona – Near Threatened
Erica unicolor ssp mutica – Endangered
Lobelia dichroma – DDT
Lotononis filiformis - Endangered
Aspalathus glabrescens -Endangered
Erica sp. - TBC
Disa bolusiana
Haworthia arachnoidea var. arania – Not evaluated
Indigofera sp. 14 – Not Evaluated

Napier & McGregor to Greyton (October 2017)
Our first stop was Napier where we spent a day exploring the Napier Mountain and surrounds. The fynbos created a beautiful picture. Some of the plants providing colour were pink and white Phaenocoma prolifera, Ericas grisbrookii, articularis, imbricata, spumosa, viscaria, gracilipes, Serruria elongata, Lobelia jasionoides and the large, mostly nearly over flowers of Protea cynaroides; blue Lobelia pinifolia, Aristea and Psoralea aphylla; yellow Lachnaea aurea, Gnidia, Leucadendrons and various daisies and orange Leucospermum cordifolium. It was however concerning to see that although some effort is being put into the removal of aliens and there is evidence of bio-control, pines (I think Pinus halepensis), Leptospermum laevigatum (Australian myrtle) and Acacia longifolia continue to invade the landscape.

Fred and I then headed to Greyton where we off-loaded most of our luggage and picked up my cousin and her husband for the trip to McGregor. On arrival in McGregor I discovered that my carefully packed bag of hiking gear had been off-loaded in Greyton! A quick survey revealed that I had shoes, back pack, hiking poles, two hats, the clothes I was wearing and one dirty sock! After rummaging in her pile of single socks our hostess found one I could use to complete my hiking outfit for the next day.

Before dawn we were driven up the mountain to the start of the Boesmanskloof Hiking Trail. As the sun was coming up, in swirling mist, we set off along the path. Although the hike is usually completed in 6 to 8 hours, Fred kindly agreed we could take the entire day so that I could spend time appreciating and photographing plants, bugs etc., the aim to get to Greyton before dark. The trail was busy and a lot of people passed us as we wandered along the path, many of them doing the there-and-back to the waterfall, although others were walking the complete trail in both directions. Some trail signage at the McGregor end is either missing or incorrect, in need of an overhaul. We were not the only hikers to wonder which route to take. The path was in good condition and as I had been told, the scenery and flowers were stunning! We were disappointed to see that aliens are also invading this fynbos! 12 hours after we started, at dusk, we arrived in Greyton having really enjoyed this beautiful hike.

Millwood, Friday 13th October
Most of the Outramps were busy elsewhere, and the remainder were keen for a short day, so it was only three of us that headed for Millwood. We parked the car at the entrance to Bendigo mine and wandered off to explore along the roads. There were streams of running water flowing next to the jeep tracks and the ground was wet, quite a change from what has been the norm lately.

As usual, there was debate about the identification of some Ericas. Site sheets for Ocotea bullata (stinkwood) and a large stand of Rapanea melanophloeos, were completed, although the latter is now LC. The one track we followed through a patch of Afrotemperate forest and fynbos came to an abrupt dead end. We started along another but it seemed to wind down the valley for a long, long way so, as there was little change in the vegetation we decided to retrace our steps. Some research on Google Earth is needed before our next visit. We drove back along the road to a site where in we had seen a number of orchids in the past. Although we were a bit early for most of the orchid flowers, (the beautiful scented Satyrium stenopetalum subsp. stenopetalum was the only one open), we did not find as many plants as previously. It appears that the drought has resulted in reduced numbers. It was lunch time when we drove past Totties and after inspecting the menu, we caught up with news and discussed future outings over some beautifully plated food.

On my way home after dropping Sandra and Rusell at the White Bridge, I stopped at Villa Castollini to see what had come up after the 7th June 2017 wild fires. There was a lot of colour, amongst others, flowering Freesia leichtlinii subsp. alba and Gnidia chrysophylla (both redlisted NT). Although it is now four months since the fire, a detailed search did not reveal any sign of Nanobubon hypogaeum (EN) or the metal tags that Vatiswa, Ismail and I used to mark the position of plants in May 2010. I expect it takes longer than 4 months to re-grow after a fire!

This week the Outramps are going to be busy. Ismail and 4 Crewites from Cape Town are coming up to do some post-burn monitoring in the Southern Cape. We will organise a supper for Tuesday evening and then do one of the Robberg Corridor properties on Wednesday and Goukamma on Thursday. Hopefully there will have been some significant regeneration after reasonable rains over the last couple of weeks.
Hamba Kahle
Groete en dankie
Di Turner
Outramps CREW Group
Southern Cape

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
TMCH -The Mathematician or the Computer Helpline – 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

Publicado por outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi, 17 de octubre de 2017


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