TABLE MOUNTAIN, SOUTH AFRICA
If you’re looking for an adventurous twist to your regular Table Mountain hikes, tackle Blind Gully!
The route takes an interesting line between Porcupine Ravine and Blinkwater Ravine, topping out at the small cairn marking Blinkwater Peak (989m).
The views are unique – Blinkwater Needle is an iconic rock formation at the northern extremity of the Twelve Apostles range and seeing it from the upper ledges is something truly special.
- Start/end – Kloof Nek
- Duration – 4 hours
- Distance – 8 km
- Altitude – 749m AMSL (Start 240m AMSL)
- Grade – B
- Exposure – High
- Water – Only after rain
Setting off from the Kloof Nek hub you’ll head along the Camp’s Bay Pipe Track for a gentle warm up. The perk of hiking here in the early morning is that it is largely in shade for the first few hours of the day if it’s a scorcher it makes a significant difference to your mountain experience.
I was confronted with wisps of cloud dissipating at the Needle…
The wind was howling, a gale-force southeaster brings the thick cloud over Table Mountain, but I was heading onto the mountain – tackling Blind Gully – a route that cuts towards the wind head-on! The intimal slog up the zigzagging Diagonal Path got my heart rate up, and soon I was on the minor track leading up the steep and deeply shaded Gully. Topping out at the small saddle, I was confronted with wisps of cloud dissipating at the Needle and the wind relentlessly pushing the vegetation around like a cat toying with a mouse. I hunkered down behind the ridge, enjoyed my morning cup of tea (Cape Union 0.5L Stainless Steel Flask) and pulled on my Kilimanjaro ’12 Shell Jacket to brace against the cold wind. This jacket truly is an essential for the Western Cape Mountains: sufficiently waterproof in winter, and windproof for the summer.
Once scaling the upper ledges, the view of the iconic Blinkwater Needle is at its finest and it’s hard to resist photographing. This upper section of the adventurous trail requires attention as you scramble up an interestingly stepped line, with exposure to heights in places. The route then steepens and you pass through a thick stand of cone bushes and climbers friend, where long K-Way Men’s Explorer Kloof Trousers save your legs from a good scratching.
Reaching Blinkwater Peak is just reward for the steep, off the beaten track hike and the view towards the Upper Cable Station gives new appreciation to the mountain. The peak is not far from the main Apostles Path and the best is to continue northwards to reach the cable station for the ride down.
This is a personal account of a Table Mountain hike, and not intended to act as a route guide. For good mountain practice, try one or more of the following:
- Do the hike with someone who knows the route;
- Buy a guidebook, such as Table Mountain Classics;
- Join a hiking club, such as Cape Union Mart Hiking Club (www.cumhike.co.za);
- Always carry a map – Slingsby Maps: Table Mountain;
- If in doubt, or wanting to get more out of the hike, hire an accredited mountain guide.