Photo of the week – February week #3: Hiking Table Mountain in the cloud

While views are certainly a substantial ingredient when hiking Table Mountain, it should not be seen as the end all to what Table Mountain hikes offer. Mist and cloud endows the landscape with a sense of mystery and otherworldliness not experienced in clear conditions. You feel a million miles away from civilization. If you’re hiking the front face of the mountain (overlooking the city), cloud deadens the usual hum of traffic drifting up from the inner city. Rock-formations take on a life of their own, looming eerily alongside the trail. Atmospheric conditions accentuates the immediate environment – not just the plants and rocks, but also the sounds: the chirp and click of frogs, birdcalls, and the hiss of complete silence. Views doesn’t make a mountain, rather the rocks and vegetation; a grove of trees, a cliff, a boulder field, flowers and streams, and the peace and quiet of nature undisturbed. Hiking Table Mountain in the cloud therefore allows for a more intimate experience with the mountain.

Many Table Mountain hikes involve scrambling. If you have a sense of adventure, then scrambling can be used to enhance a hike in the absence of views. It creates more of an experience while focusing the mind on the terrain, away from what views you might be missing out on. Scrambling in the cloud makes for a memorable experience that will have you forgetting the loss of views in no time. And it’s worth bearing in mind that Table Mountain’s weather is the four-seasons-in-a-day type, so starting out in the cloud doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to remain cloudy for the duration of the hike – although this is quite often the case.

A word of caution: hiking Table Mountain in dense cloud makes route-finding a real challenge and getting lost a real possibility, unless you know the mountain very well. If you don’t, then go with someone who does, or make use of a competent Table Mountain guide.