After three days of running in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve I planned out a couple of runs in the adjoining Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve. Setting out from the town of Stellenbosch for my first run it would take me almost as long to drive to the reserve as it would have taken me to run there from Jonkershoek.
After driving the long circuitous route to the reserve entrance I arrived early, heading through open gates before they were manned for the day. When discussing my planned run in the reserve the previous week with one of my running mates he had suggested that I carry some warm gear with me, as it was in the same place that he had almost become hypothermic when a cold change had swept through on a run there. As I set out it was particularly grey and overcast, and his warning was clear in my mind, but I was well prepared for bad weather.
My route would take me from the main parking area at Nuweberg along a contour to the overnight Boesmanskloof Hut, before climbing up a valley to my high point for the route, with a downhill finish. The overcast weather was a pleasant change after some warm days, and the run to the hut was quite easy. It was a nice climb to the high point of the route, but just after passing it I heard what at first sounded like a dog’s bark. Looking around I sighted a baboon standing on top of a rock surrounded by its troop. I was unsure whether the sound was aimed at me as a way of warning me from their territory but I thought it best to continue running, and the “barks” continued until I was well away from their resting spot. After a couple of shorter climbs I reached a road that wound downhill back to my car.
For my second run in the reserve I planned a route that would take me just inside the boundary of Jonkershoek Nature Reserve before looping back. After a couple of early morning runs I decided on a slightly more leisurely start to my day, stopping for a coffee in the town of Franschhoek before heading to the gate. Arriving once the gate was manned I went to the office and notified the staff that I was planning a day hike. The woman at the gate responded that I could not hike alone as it was too dangerous, since I could fall over or get bitten by a snake. I explained that I had been running in the reserve and Jonkershoek all week, but she refused to allow me in.
Luckily there is a flat-topped mountain not too far away that allowed me to come up with a backup plan…