With the taste of sea salt and vinegar puffs still in my mouth, the car drove around the Point of Mossel Bay to the St. Blaize trail and parked near the shadow of a lighthouse. Before I hiked up to the start of the trail, I noticed a car with “Just Married” written on the back window and I am reminded of my sister who I just saw get married three weeks ago. She would have enjoyed the view of the dramatic seascape as the brownish red cliffs of the St. Blaize trail met the opaque blue water of the Indian Ocean below. Below the lighthouse was a hollowed out rock that was blackened with what looks to be soot from a distance and there is a raised wooden walkway marked as the start of the trail just underneath.
I slowly made my way up a steady incline and found myself on a narrow rocky trail populated with broken rocks, large boulders and branches which stuck out in the trail. I found the trail marked by wooden posts driven into the ground however some of the horizontal posts that can be used as hand rails had large gaps between them signifying that some of the original posts were missing. Perhaps they had disappeared from years of abuse, poor construction, stupidity or a combination of all three.
The trail features a series of switchbacks and due to the angle of the incline, steps have been carved into the rocks embedded in the ground. The steps are narrow and as I walked up the hill, I took care to notice the broken rocks, tiny pebbles, and animal droppings beneath my feet.
With the rising cliffs on my right and the ocean on my left I continued walking until I saw an elderly couple on a plateau, just below the trail, overlooking the ocean. There is no defined trail down to the rocky shoreline, only a path carved out by erosion and runoff. A slit of rock, looking more like a water trail after a boat has cut through it, acted as my guide down to the plateau. I reached into my pocket for my phone and my lip balm fell out. I stood still and did nothing as I watched roll slowly down a crack in the rock. But thankfully, it stopped just before the edge and I bent down to pick it up.
As I stood up, I look ahead and saw a series of caves in the cliff arranged diagonally, not in the direction of direct water flow. It seemed like an impossible location for caves to have been formed given that the water does not hit the shore at an angle. The rocks that make up these caves look like they are being held up by nothing more than sheer will. I can see defined lines of each section of rock that give it the appearance of being haphazardly put together and that at any moment the structure could give way and seal whatever was inside.
The swirling white sea foam that surrounded the base of the cliffs look like cartography lines that delineate the elevation of a hill or mountain. Only here, if you trace the lines, would they illustrate where the water meets the land. I watched the foam disappear around the bend and my curiosity begged me to push on.
I continued up the narrow trail surrounded by beautifully earth-toned vegetation before a square piece of earth caught my attention . I stepped out into the square and looked down at the waves crashing ashore. Below me boulders of varying shades of rust, brown, taupe, and grey were strewn along the hillside. It was as if this spot had been cut out so I could see the graveyard of rocks below.
Just beyond the graveyard of rocks I spotted a boulder next to the trail with white bird painted on the upper right hand corner. What was the motivation for this piece of graffiti? A senseless act, a desperate attempt for attention or a marking to make sure its visitors didn’t wander off the trail? Which would ultimately result in death.
Further up the trail a furry creature the size of a large rabbit crossed my path and made its way up the hillside before stopping a few feet from the trail and look back at me. Slightly frightened by the creature, I walked away and looked back at the way I came and I saw the lighthouse in the distance, It’s white pillar set amongst hills of green and brown.
I continued on the trail as it wove in and out, walking through a canopy of overgrown brush. The ground was soft and devoid of rocks as I came out into a clearing and looked back at a steep hill that runs from the trail down to the waters edge. The hill was spotted with green like a poorly watered Chia pet and the lines in the rock could be traced down to the water like a road map.
I continued walking until I reached my turnaround point on the trail at a crescent bay where the water crashed onto the large boulders that make up the shore. As the water ebbs and flows it swirled and created a whirlpool, sucking in the surrounding foam and creating a product that looked similar to boiling marshmallows. Just below the trail, a large rock formed a lookout over the miniature bay. As I made my way down the path I saw bits and pieces of glass bottles of alcohol and soda in tiny shards and large strips accompanied by the lids of bottles strewn all over the ground. Clearly I had stumbled upon a popular spot for socializing. Why wasn’t I invited?
Once I had taken in the view, I made way back up the small hill, onto the trail and headed back the way I came. Walking in the opposite direction, the trail looked different. I know I had been here before and have seen the same boulders and bushes but it all looked brand new. As the sun set behind me, the hillside casted a shadow on some of the trail that extended down to just beyond the shoreline and suddenly I am more concerned with my footing on uneven ground than the scenery as I clearly didn’t pay attention to the loose rocks and soil on the way here.