Thursday, 13 October 2011

Circles in the Forest

Circles in the forest is the official name for this hike. It is named after a novel about the Knysna forest written by Dalene Matthee. (one of the true great Afrikaans novels.) It is also called the old woodcutters trail.
Distance:  9km
Duration:  3hours
Difficulty:  Easy
Permits:  A permit can be obtained at the boom when you enter the forest. The cost is R17 for an adult. If the boom is unmanned a self issue permit applies.
The hike starts at the grave of Dalene Matthee.
'...between man and the forest lies but a thin veil. Like a cobweb. Like an invisible mist through which you can see if you can open your eyes wide enough..."

Over the gravestone a huge Kalander casts its shadow. Its branches protecting thes guardian of the forest. (Kalander a.k.a Outeniqua Yellowood/ Podokarpus Africana.)

" a mighty king it stood towering above the white alder and mountain saffron, stinkwood, assegaai and hard pear. As if God had planted it long before the others. Its giant root anchored it to the ground like giant arms..."

I almost cannot believe that this tree has stood in this exact spot for 880 years!!! Here I can touch history, who else over they years has sat it its shade, how many people have gazed up at the sky through its leafy branches?

Before we started on our hike we made a quick visit to the facilities. :)

After that it was time to start the hike...
You almost feel like you have to enter this forest on tip-toe. As a child I have read all Dalene's stories about this place and its people. Now that I am here as a adult I feel almost part of it in some special way.
Soon after we went through the gates we turned off the access road and entered the forest.
The branches closed in on us and the shadowy coldness of the forest canopy embraced us. The soil underneath our feet felt soft and fertile. The air smelled brand new, not like our city air. Not used and discarded. Not contaminated and abused by human carelessness. This air was fresh straight from the photosynthesis factory surrounding us.

There were so many things to look at! I am sure we did not even see a third of what was there.

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