Weary Willy's and the Echo Valley Hike.

If you’re anything like me and love the idea of hiking more than the actual uphill motion, then the short walk up to Echo Valley is a great place to begin. Funny thing about hiking is that I’m always in awe of the view at the top, passing little streams and spotting various flowers, but uphill and I don’t sit around the same campfire. I can dance non-stop in a class for 3 hours, but give me a hefty incline and I start breathing like someone with asthma.

We parked the car at the end of Boyes Drive, just above Kalk Bay harbour and walked across the busy road to get to the first rocky steps marking our path upward. I wore my Dad’s hand-me-down hiking boots (I don’t imagine I would have purchased these of my own will) and eagerly made my way to the trail.

As soon as we started walking, I was glad I had chosen the heavy boots. My running shoes would’ve been far to flimsy for these rocks wedged between the dark sand. Whilst I constantly wanted to stop, sit beside running streams, admire purple bushes and bright proteas, my hiking partner insisted we keep moving and reach the amphitheatre soon so we could make our way back before dark.

The sound of natural running water is right up there with my top most soothing sounds. Birds chirped all about us, the bushes swayed in the breeze and I couldn’t stop taking photos of the brown, mountain water rushing over rocks and smooth sand. My favourite were the fluffy trees which appeared to be snowy from far, but were long, bits of 'hair' growing from its branches.

The higher we got, the lighter the sand became, until it seemed as though we were at the beach. It was all fun and games with me constantly playing catch-up until we passed the ‘Weary Willy’s sign and spotted some dodgy guys partly hidden in the bushes. They seemed surprised that we had seen them and when asked what they were doing, one muttered something about reading.

Perhaps I’m a skeptical by-product of living in Cape Town or a country where innocent hikers and cyclists get attacked along trails, but they did not appear to have hiked up here for a read or mountainside meander. After that we could never really fully enjoy the duration of the hike to the top. My boyfriend stuffed rocks in his hoodie pockets, wielded a weapon of a stick and made me carry something sharp too. Just in case those three men were to get any ideas, think we’re tourists with an expensive camera and attack.

It’s a flipping shame, but most decisions we make here (especially females) have to be mindful of safety first. Once we reached the wooden amphitheatre, I breathed a sigh of relief. This haven was planted beneath a canopy of trees and due to the time of day, allowed only tiny chinks of light in. I climbed up a tree and rested my head on the rough bark. I always succumb to the view at the top of a mountain, but this doesn’t mean that I desire to climb Kilimanjaro either. False Bay spanned out in front, with two peaks on either side of us. There was nothing left to do but admire God’s exquisite creation whilst perched on a rock and make our way down.

Some Cape Town trail tips: Don’t go hiking alone. Even in broad daylight, people have been known to be attacked. Take at least one person with you or even better, hike in groups. Start early so you can make your way off the mountain before dark and avoid getting lost or stuck in extreme conditions once night falls. Take enough water with you and snacks for energy. Have light clothing on whilst you hike, but make sure you have warm clothing for when our wind picks up as well as waterproof layers if the rain decides to fall. Cape Town’s weather can be very unpredictable, so you may go up whilst it’s 30 degrees and descend in rainy, cloudy weather.