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Contour Trail to Platteklip Gorge - Capetown, WW
mini location map2015-08-10
46 by photographer avatarCannondaleKid
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Contour Trail to Platteklip Gorge - Capetown, WW 
Contour Trail to Platteklip Gorge - Capetown, WW
Hiking avatar Aug 10 2015
Hiking3.50 Miles 763 AEG
Hiking3.50 Miles   2 Hrs   24 Mns   1.51 mph
763 ft AEG      5 Mns Break20 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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We knew months before that the Cable Car would be down for annual maintenance and scheduled to reopen August 10th. So we made sure to arrive well before it opened. We had high hopes to ride the tram to the top then hike our way back down. Unfortunately, much to our dismay, due to already-high winds forecast to continue throughout the day the tram would not be running.

However, even if it had opened and even as early as we arrived, we would have had a LONG wait. Unbeknownst to us this Monday was the end of a three-day holiday weekend... which meant there were tons of people who hoped to ride the tram on it's re-opening day.

Oh well... change of plans. Since we had been prepared to hike the 3+ hour descent, we decided to give it a go, doing the full round-trip hike to the Upper Cable Station. We began at the Lower Cable Station, climbing as far as the Contour Trail where we would find one of the very helpful maps on the mountain. As we were studying the map a very friendly local hiker filled a few gaps that were missing in the information we had. She was nice enough to offer to take our photo. (Yes, we trusted she wouldn't run off with my camera, which we had been warned happens quite frequently)

After the photo we had to decide whether to continue the most direct route to the top, or follow the Contour Trail roughly horizontally for over a mile before ascending the longer but easier (and more popular) Platteklip Gorge trail. Since we had expected a ride to the top and hike down, we had more plans for the day so decided to take the short, but steep route.

Well that worked for barely the first hundred feet. In that short space I'd already been on all fours a number of times climbing large, smooth boulders, my left ankle was displaying its full displeasure with this steep stuff! (I had injured the ankle on a fall while building a chicken coop in Tanzania) Even though it was only in the mid-50's with the aforementioned high winds, I was sweating like crazy... probably more from enduring the pain than the actual effort. But no matter, it was very obvious if we were to make it to the top, it wouldn't be by this route.
We were left to take the only other, to follow the relatively level Contour Trail a mile to the popular Platteklip Gorge Trail and ascend from there. So we set off on the Contour Trail. When we reached Platteklip Gorge, we had another reality check... due to it being a national holiday, the Platteklip Gorge Trail (like Camelback or Flatiron during snow-bird season) was PACKED with traffic going up and coming down. Oh well, suck it up and get moving!

Well that worked for about 2 seconds... until we looked way up the trail and saw a HUGE group of blue-shirted hikers winding their way down like small ants. When we saw how long it took for hikers going up to pass through the group, there was no way we were going to waste a good portion of the day waiting on a mountain trail. So we followed Platteklip Gorge Trail back down to Tafelberg Road, which we would follow back past the Lower Cable Station and back to where we parked.

Ok, we've already had several changes in plan, what's next? Well, it looks like the next closest item on our list of possible things to do and see is the world-renown Kirstenbosch National botanical Garden. And off we go... driving on the wrong (left) side of the road.
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