Two Capetonians and a Londoner
tackle Skeleton Gorge and traverse
the Table Top to upper cable station
The last hike of 2016 turned out to be one of the nicest of the year. It was a total pleasure guiding locals Lauren, Craig and Tom from London. Three super fit athletes who showed Skeleton Gorge no mercy as we summited in 90 minutes. A rather late 9am start, the Gorge was hot and humid and my t-shirt was soaked wet by the time we got to the summit. I couldn’t help thinking that the jungles of Borneo would probably feel the same.
Table Mountain has over 50 different hiking trails on offer. One of Cape Town Hikes most popular trails is Skeleton Gorge.
Our hike started in Kirstenbosch, a world renowned Botanical Garden. The Kirstenbosch side of Table Mountain receives the most rainfall on the Peninsula and the lower slopes of the mountain are thus covered by extensive indigenous Afromontane forest, a vegetation type that only covers 0.5% of Africa. Hiking up the gorge is especially nice in summer, when the large trees of the forest offer some cooling shade.
The entire hike up Skeleton Gorge is quite steep and we climbed from 200m to 800m. The first half of the ascent is stepped, then a ladder section is reached which helps to climb over some polished rocks. The hike continued through the rocky water stream of the gorge where we used our hands to scramble over some rocks. After exiting the stream, the path zigzags up to the top where Skeleton Gorge turns into the Smuts Track at Breakfast Rock.
At the top of the Gorge we entered into the Back Table area, where the largest reservoirs are located on Table Mountain. We walked to the white sandy beach of the Hely-Hutchingson reservoir where we had a lunch break. After our break we skirted the edge of the dam and crossed the wall neighbouring Woodhead reservoir and made our way to the Waterworks Museum which contains pictures and machinery relating to the construction of the reservoirs and the waterworks system on Table Mountain. From the Museum we did a small ascent before descending into Echo Valley. After a short traverse in Echo Valley we climbed out of the Valley, to the Table Top and Upper Cable Station area where we had a 360 degree view of the Mother City.
We had to endure a 45 minute wait at the cable station to get a car down. Our hike took 4hrs 20min and distance covered was probably around 7km.