The near-impossible task of organising field trips in February was once again brought home to me. On Friday, we travelled to the Robinson Pass with the accent on Orchids. En route, we dropped into the Ruitersbos office and collected Koos Maya to come with us. Our first stop was the picnic table near the gate that leads to the lookout. Most of the Outramps headed east to fossick on the southern slopes of Ruitersberg. Spectacular displays of Cyrtanthus elatus proved to be irresistible to the more photographic minded. The going was very tough with no path and I opted to go west along the Jeep track at the start of the Attakwaskloof Trail with Jenny and Nicky.
Our first find was Erica intermedia var. albiflora in early bud. It is going to be a riotous display in a few weeks. Further along we inspected the Acmadenia rupicola site and the plants are alive and well. A surprising find was Crassula perforata subsp. kougaensis.. This is popping up all over the place and its Critically Rare status needs to be reassessed. The plants on the Montagu Pass are not as small and as tight as those on this site. We are hoping that Derek Tribble will be able to confirm that they are indeed the same.
We walked further down the hiking trail, but only saw Penaea acutifolia (Rare) on this stretch. For a moment, we thought we’d found Pentameris, but on closer examination it proved not to be. By this time the sun was truly up. Even a strong breeze at times was not sufficient to cool us down. Sweat pouring down, faces an unattractive red, we were not a pleasant sight.
Reassembling at the Bus, we moved to the top of the Robinson Pass and walked west along the Koumashoek trail. Koos had told us that Jan and AL Vlok had found some Orchids further along in November. We knew it was late, but we needed to identify the area for next year. Evidently they found Acrolophia ustulata (Vulnerable) and Acrolophia lunata (Endangered). A ustulata was last found in 1983, so they must have been thrilled. Predictably there was nothing left for us to see. Some compensation was a stunning Disa graminifolia and a little pink/red Disa, which we think is Disa filicornis. Other beauties were Dilatris ixioides and a magnificent salmon-coloured George Lily.
By now the party had grown a little silent, as the heat took its toll. It must have been well over 30 degrees. We went back to the Ruitersbos office and had lunch under the trees, before heading home in the Bus. It was a long uncomfortable drive. The air-conditioning has given in on our geriatric vehicle.
The Wednesday before, WAGS went to Goukamma and did the boat thing. We walked to the beacon and then on to the Skimmelkrans beach and back to the Goukamma river. Keith, your paths are still in excellent condition and the signposting is great. It is a pleasure to walk on this well-managed Reserve. Every time we come into Goukamma, we present our wildcards or pay. This way, the Reserve is at least getting some money to be used for maintenance of the trails. It is not a difficult thing to organise. I would think that it was very necessary, so that the Reserves get some return on the Wildcard system. Eulophia speciosa )Declining)was our only find with status on the Redlist
The fact that I can’t get into iSpot is driving me mad. Last Tuesday, the lightning struck our telephone line and we lost both power and the Internet. Despite impassioned pleas to Telkom, nothing has happened. So if e-mails are answered sporadically, that is the reason why.
The Garden Route Initiative meeting is scheduled for Friday, so there will be no field trip. We will still be able to monitor some of the Outeniqua specials, because WAGS is doing Cradock Pass on Wednesday.
Groete en dankie
Outramps CREW Group