Photo of the week – November week #2: Hiking Table Mountain in the mist

View south from Fountain Ledge along the India Venster route.

View south from Fountain Ledge along the India Venster route.

Contrary to popular belief, mist is an essential ingredient to great views – but not too much of it. A bit of mist lends mystery to the landscape, rendering it surreal and otherworldly. In addition, it accentuates the contours and features of the mountain, throwing the topography of the mountain in stark relief. A bit of cloud adds to the experience in that the views are dynamic; it changes all the time, giving the landscape a life of its own. You shouldn’t be discouraged about hiking Table Mountain in these conditions, other than being extra cautious about getting lost. Watching wisps of cloud swirl around pinnacles and buttresses, and eddy up from deep ravines, adds drama and a raw energy to the mountain.

Table Mountain hikes are not just about distant views. How many people are obsessed about seeing as far as possible – discerning vague features on a hazy horizon – rather than appreciating the beauty surrounding them and grandeur staring them in the face. I’ve seen a lot of people who hike Table Mountain without really seeing Table Mountain: they’re eyes are forever searching the horizon, the beyond, the distance – and so they miss out on the singular topography of Table Mountain.Table Mountain hiking offers superb views of the surrounding landscape (in clear conditions), sure, but also of the mountain itself. Partial cloud confines one’s awareness and attention to the middle and near distance while sprucing up the mountain to great effect.

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