Often hiking down is the most underestimated activity on Table Mountain. Although easier cardio – wise, it’s more strenuous than people imagine. We hike down when the wind closes the cable car or when the cable car is closed for annual maintenance.
Our famed route down is Platteklip Gorge. This is the easiest and quickest of the Table Mountain hikes. Platteklip Gorge route comprises of big uneven steps which takes a lot of concentration to navigate. Shorter legs often find these steps to be a giant effort, while longer legs skip over the rocks.
Hiking up provides a huge sense of achievement; after hiking up the slopes and putting in all the sweat and physical effort. It’s considered a much-deserved reward to cruise down the cable car in about five minutes.
Hiking back down can lessen the excitement of reaching the iconic tabletop – perhaps the first reason are the knees and ankles as they do not enjoy the hike back down. Many people feel tired by the time they reach the road after a grueling two-hour descent. I have never seen people so delighted to see a tarred road.
On the way down there are many slippery rocks to navigate. Despite the Table Mountain sandstone, many rocks are polished from all the foot traffic. Often rocks are sloping downwards and catch hikers off guard.
Then often “Elvis legs” kick in. It’s a feat reaching the summit and people are tired. So, the real exhaustion presents itself in shaky legs. It’s always a concern when someone gets the “hippy shakes”.
However, when properly prepared, hiking down can be an adventure on its own. Hiking up one route and down another allows people to see vast amounts of Table Mountain and what it has to offer. As much as it is an achievement hiking up, those who hike down as well can have a more gratifying experience.