On Tuesday, 8 of us left at the crack of dawn for Riversdale. It was a mixture of Outramps and some newly-recruited “intrepids” who are going to help us to search the high peaks for desperately threatened plants. We hiked up to the base of the kloof where Erica ixanthera grows and scratched around the rocks with no success. It is early and she isn’t in flower. We may come back in Oct/Nov when it should be easier to find the Erica. The Erica is listed as Vulnerable. But this whole site is being attacked by escapee pines and Wattle. It is very difficult to see how the plant is going to survive in the longgterm. I think the Threat status should be increased, but we will reportback on that later in the year. We walked to Rooiwatersruit at a leisurely pace. We were delighted to find new mattresses in the Hut and a brand new toilet. Thanks for the help given us by Shagon Carelse of Hessequa Municipality. It was invaluable. We spent the afternoon on the plains to the west of the Huts. Erica melanthera grew in sheets of pink, interspersed with the gold of Leucadendron eucalyptifolium. It was spectacular. At first light the next morning, we headed off for the long hike from Rooiwaterspruit to Ou Tol via the Sleeping Beauty summit. Most of the path had been recently cleared and it was wonderful going on the relentless uphill to the base of Sleeping Beauty. The stretch that zigzags up to the contour path was uncleared and a real battle, underlining the pleasure of walking on paths that are not overgrown. The summit is really the “cherry on the top”. Growing there and very much alive and well, was Erica dysantha. She wasn’t flowering yet, but we have learnt to recognise the leaves. This is another plant that requires an upgrade to the threat status. It is only known from 2 localities about 6kms apart. 2 Fires in quick succession could catapult it into extinction. Towards the end of the year, we are hoping that the “intrepids” will help us explore all the surrounding peaks in search of more localities. Leucadendron radiatum (Endangered) was thriving all along the contour path and on the summit. It was an incredibly long day of 11 hours. But I made it and I plan to do it at least one more time, before I die. The next day some of the party did the magnificent Kristalkloof Hike. Ann and I headed to the north of Garcia Pass to make contact with the van den Bergs. They farm on the north-eastern side of the Langeberg and we would love to explore the area. Both Marco and Patrick van den Berg were very welcoming and we are hoping to see them soon again. And while we tackled Sleeping Beauty, the rest of the Outramps visited Spitskop on Prince Alfred Pass. Our leader being otherwise engaged after a strenuous trip to Sleeping Beauty, the rest of us under Ash’s guidance headed for the hills behind Knysna around Diepewalle.An area around the Valley of Ferns had a burn in early 2009 and this was in the main where we explored. The restios are in great profusion and looking at their best, there are yellow daisies everywhere (Euryops virgineus, Osteospermum junceum, Ursinias of various species), Pelargonium cordatum in full bloom – and best of all, masses of golden yellow Cyclopia subternata which is escaping harvesting. It seems too early for the bulbs to be in flower , though with the warm day the buds we saw will surely open soon. The dominant Proteaceae in our circular walk were Leucadendron conicum and Protea cynaroides, both looking very good. Appropriately post burn, there are a lot of Mairea crenata plants, several in flower. We picnicked at the Valley of Ferns picnic spot afterwards and it was warm enough to warrant sitting in the shade. This coming week, a very depleted Outramps Group is heading for Gamkaberg. We will spend Tuesday exploring a recent burn on the Rooiberg Pass. On Wednesday, we will walk the 17kms to the Hut just beyond Rooiberg. On Thursday we will walk to the summit of Bailey’s Peak, which is 7kms of quite steep up and down, according to our ornithologist, Dr Alan Lee. 2 of the Gamkaberg rangers will be with us with the trusty Landcruiser. Some of this is entirely new ground for us and we are hoping to turn up some exciting “rares.” On Friday we hope to find Roberto’s Arctotis sp. nova in Tierkloof. If the weather is kind, we will also look for Crassula badpoortensis in the vicinity of the Spa. It should be a wonderful few days. Thanks Tom for making it all possible. We are also looking forward to meeting up with Lise and Rudi von Staden. Lise is the wonderful person who keeps the Red List up to date. We have become really good friends over the last few years and we are delighted to have her expertise with us, if only for a limited time.