A quiet moment on call has me trying to make inroads into the photographs from our Patagonian explorations last October. Here’s an image that was immediately emotive: A group of hikers on a guided exploration of a small part of the Perito Moreno Glacier as dwarfed by the immense magnitude of the ice. I love the mystery and majesty of glaciers; the idea of such harsh hardness being in constant flux, constantly flowing between accumulation and ablation while appearing immobile. You can explore a glacier for an entire day, convinced of its permanence, and then return the next to find the landscape changed, fresh and beaconing with new discoveries. The mute whiteness from afar disguises endless shades of blue, and the stark purity of the ice unfolds to reveal the pebbles and dirt it has collected along it’s course, like a child of the wilderness who can’t return from an adventure unsoiled.
Stumbled across this while doing other things and couldn’t help wanting to share. Watch in HD if you can. Folks from Cape Town and surrounds will particularly enjoy the new visions of familiar scenery…
Although I was mostly taking laid-back ‘holiday photos’ during our trip to the Witteberg Private Nature Reserve this past long weekend, the chance to photograph these two specimens of the fascinating “Cat’s Claw”/”Katnaels” plant Hyobanche sanguinea was too good to ignore. The small bright red plants are easy to spot along the routes through the Karoo scrub, and their soft ‘furry’ texture really does remind one of a cat’s soft feet. The lack of anything resembling a normal leaf puzzled me, and I was therefore interested to learn that H. sanguinea is in fact a holoparasitic plant, extending an underground stem which extends dendrites that tap into the vasculature of host plant roots, allowing the parasite to extract water, minerals and substrate. A single Cat’s Claw can grow to 15cm (most we saw were less than 5cm) and can tap into many different host plants. More info on the plant and related species here. Like so much in nature, beauty hides the savage truth…
…extensively! I’ve turned it into an impromptu tour of flying the Twelve Apostles. Scroll down to the original entry or click here to see the new content. I’ve also loaded my tracklog to Leonardo – click here to view it and see an interactive map of the route. Last photo to enjoy:
UPDATED: This time of the year (late August through to October) is one of the best for soaring flights along the Cape Peninsula and surrounding mountains. As the frontal systems make their march to the south for the summer, the cold fronts lessen in intensity, with more more moderate prefrontal north-westerlies and lingering postfrontal conditions. The air is cold and moist but the sun begins to reappear, leading to beautifully smooth soaring interspersed with the promise of good instability and thermal flying. It is certainly the ‘high’ season for the Cape pilot’s classic route: Signal Hill/Lion’s Head across to Table Mountain, southerly along the Twelve Apostles, and then back for sundowners or onwards into the lesser-flown for the brave (and those with dedicated retrieve drivers!). For many years this route was more frequented by the hang-glider pilots with their better glide and speed range (the NW can exhibit a strong wind gradient as one climbs), but as paraglider technology has improved it is now achievable by pilots on almost any wing. Come along on a tour, illustrated with my photos from today…
…in an initiative/competition run by Garmin. They are looking for stories of how people “Live Beyond” in various categories – outdoor, fitness, automotive, marine and aviation. I’ve entered our Cape Point paramotor flight in the aviation category, and now need votes. Click here to visit and vote for my entry at LiveBeyond.co.za
While you’re at it, why not add your own?
I went on a lovely post-call aerial meander today. While I caught up on sleep during the morning the wind turned light north-west; cold sea air began to replace the more boisterous south-easter and most of the PPG fraternity were congregated at Dolphin Beach. I joined the crowd around three o’clock and was airborne shortly thereafter with a vague plan to join a group flying up to Melkbosstrand along the coast. Unfortunately, a stubborn pressure-knot in my lines forced a quick circuit back to the field to sort it out, so I ended up chasing after them on full bar and open trims, idly watching the surfers below. By the time I caught up they had passed Big Bay and encountered a bank of sea fog just making landfall. The group turned back.
My natural wanderlust extends to airborne endeavours, and I knew that I’d be frustrated flying around Dolphin Beach until the mist arrived there and shut things down completely, so I decided to fly over to Blouberg Hill and survey the options from there. The hill peaks at about 700ft and features some old military ramparts, which are now being converted into nature reserve accommodation. I used some ridge lift on the NW side for a free ride to the top and examined the options. The sea fog looked as if it was thinning out to the north, and experience has taught me that while the sun shines if rarely makes much progress inland. I’d already discovered (to my surprise) that there was very little turbulence over the hill. I decided to venture a little further into the farmlands, make a big loop to which ever side felt good, and try my luck later with the fog at the beach – there are always plenty of landing options elsewhere for a PPG.
Great PPG flying on the West Coast today. We met at Grotto Bay and flew north along the coastline to Yzerfontein – 30km of almost uninhabited and deserted beach, with the occasional wild ostrich for company. After an extended coffee break at Yzerfontein to assess what the wind was doing (a NE land breeze meeting the forecast NW sea breeze) the general consensus was to head back to Grotto rather than chancing a flight to Langebaan. Fortunately, help was at hand in the form of Dave, who offered to drive my Pajero as a support vehicle, and so I invited him to drive it all the way to Blouberg, said goodbye to the others at Grotto Bay and flew the whole stretch back in one go – more than 70km cross-country flight if you allow the small detour around the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station restricted airspace which I had to make.
South Georgia is without doubt one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. I first set foot there in Right Whale Bay, late one summer evening, and was confronted with pandemonium – more seals than I had ever seen before, mixed with more penguins than I could comprehend, surrounded by other birds on the ground and the wing combining to create a cacophony amidst a visually overwhelming background of sheer splendour: beauty, terrifying austerity, diversity, desolation,death, and life in abundance.