Quote of the week – February week #3: Table Mountain retrospection

“Acquaintance with the mysteries and beauties of Skeleton Gorge or the Window was confined to a very few stalwarts, and these ravines were the field of the wood cutter, the wood gatherer and a few furtive wanderers, whose occupations were somewhat obscure, their only obvious activity being the hawking of ferns and plants. But few of the rest of the community penetrated to the haunts of the disa and tree fern, and some admiration was entertained for those who claimed familiarity with the difficulties of the upper reaches.”

~ Extract from an article in the 1931 Journal of the Mountain Club of South Africa on 19th century settlers’ activities on Table Mountain ~

In this evocative snapshot of man’s activities and sentiments of Table Mountain in a time when mountaineering did not exist, we get an idea of what a wild place the mountain used to be even after 200-odd years of settlement at the foot of the ‘Old Grey Father’, as the mountain was sometimes referred to in those days. Far more remarkable is the fact that parts of the mountain has retained that wildness to this day. Skeleton Gorge has become a popular and well-trodden route to the summit, but the neighboring ravine, Window Gorge (referred to in the extract as ‘the Window’) is still confined to a very few stalwarts. Many parts of the mountain remains wild and unfrequented, and only by hiking Table Mountain, can you get an appreciation of its wilder side.

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