Photo of the Week: July week #4

Table Mountain hiking


I’ve come across some odd things in the years I’ve been hiking Table Mountain, but this find ranks as one of the weirdest. You could hike a lifetime on Table Mountain without finding a wheelbarrow, but there it was, laying on its side in tall grass, buckled and rusted, its wheel charred by previous fires. And what makes this find really bizarre is the location: a trackless and unfrequented slope with not a path in sight – extreme terrain for a wheelbarrow. To be precise, near the foot of the Center Left Face rib.

How it got there is a bit of a mystery. There has never been hiking routes in that part of the mountain; climbing routes, yes, but the kind that is rarely done (which explains what I was doing there). Besides, climbers don’t use wheelbarrows to transport their gear and ropes up the mountain. So one can safely assume that no one pushed it there from below – more likely from above, as the high-impact dent on the side attests to.

But that raises another question: from where was it pushed over the edge? Not the summit; the slope where it was found is set away too far from the summit rim, so there’s no way anyone could wheel it that far over the edge of the mountain without bush or rock or ledge arresting its fall. The most likely solution is that it came to its final resting place in a series of falls at different times. Someone pushed it off the summit onto the first of several broad ledges traversing the cliffs on that part of the mountain, where it was found by a hiker or climber who couldn’t resist pushing it over the next cliff – and once again the unfortunate wheelbarrow went airborne and slammed into the mountain lower down to where it came to rest at the base of the lowermost cliffs.

My theory is open to debate. It still doesn’t explain why someone would push a wheelbarrow to that part of the summit only to push it over the edge. Maybe it was used to convey the concrete used on sections of the Maclear’s path that runs across the summit not too far away from the front edge of the mountain. Concrete was also used in the restoration of Maclear’s Beacon in 1979; judging by the modern-ish design of the wheelbarrow, it could well be from that era. We will never know for sure, but it makes for interesting speculation and conjecture.

Hiking on Table Mountain allows one to make all sorts of discoveries, whether abandoned wheelbarrows, rare orchids, striking viewpoints, elusive animals or unique rock-formations.