The last place you want to find a tick...

Today has been a radical day of exploration for me!

It started out with me watching the sunrise in bed, it was one of the "wow" days! Yesterdays was actually even more wow, but let's stick to today.. The clouds were glowing and the sky came alive as the sun started to rise above the Hottentots Holland mountains.

I then took Dougie for our morning walk, we went down onto the golf course and met two of his best friends there, Rex and Bailey. Rex is a stunning German Pointer, who is rather naughty and notorious on the golf course. He likes to pick up the golfers balls.. while they're playing and run off with them. Dougie and him love playing together because they're both big and play rough. Bailey, I'm not sure what type of a dog she is, but she's a sweetheart, like her owner. She's around 1yr8months, so older than Doug, but smaller and more gentle. We walked the full length of the course, then back home. Dougie passed out immediately and I made breakfast for myself and Steve, (he has the flu and is burning up which is why he couldn't go to work today) so I spoiled the two of us with a fried egg breakfast.

Now, moving along to the more exciting part of the day.. I left Douglas at home with Steve, because I've been dying to further explore the mountain which is our backyard, but haven't wanted to take Dougie with for two reasons. 1) He isn't fully grown yet, and with Rotties one really has to be careful not to over-exercise them. 2) Where I was headed, is a venomous snake breeding area, and I'm not comfortable taking my baby into that, at least not until I checked it out first.

Another reason I haven't been out mountain exploring here yet, even though we've lived in Simon's Town for nearly a year is because of all the issues we've been having this year with safety within Table Mountain National Park. However there has been no crime reported in the Simon's Town mountains and I got tired of waiting. I took along my backpack, a hoodie, 1.5 litres of water, a couple of Oreo's, and a pocket knife. Steve has trained me in how to use it, and not let it be used against me, and I feel confident in my ability to protect myself and check out my surroundings, so off I went.

I started the trail at the end of Gillard Road, where at the start of the trail, the first thing you see is, "Warning. Venomous Snake Breeding area" how exciting, right!!? I've seen a few snakes since we've been living here, and in December I sadly had to use my newly purchased spade to pick up a dead Cape Cobra after it had been ridden over a few houses down from mine. It's golden brown body was still twitching as I picked it up, but I was pretty sure it was dead, as the head looked squashed and really beat up. Still, snakes can bite even after death. They're amazing haha. The cobra was the most deadly snake I had ever seen in the area, until today :)

I walked along the trail, which leads to a road and doesn't get onto the higher trail which I was aiming for, that goes passed the old bunker. There is a naval base at the end of the road I was on, and asked a few of the navy men if they knew how I could get onto the mountain trail. The janitor, Clive (I smiled at him and told him it was my beloved grandfathers name too) had no idea and took me inside the building, which was spotless, incredibly spacious from what I saw, and of course - had amazing views of both False Bay and the mountain.

There I met Isidore, a gentleman who told me that he's not sure how to get onto the trail, but has seen people walking down through the trees which were to the right of where we were. I suspected it was possible to reach the trail I was aiming for by going through the trees, however it was definitely not my first choice. I often ask locals who I meet on mine and Dougie's walks about the trails, and one of the car guards, Steven, has told me a bit about the routes before. He specifically mentioned not to walk through said trees because of the snakes, which are plentiful. I proceeded with caution, having decided that if I felt it was too risky, I would turn back. I knew there was an obvious start to the trail at the end of Jan Smuts Drive, but was both up for the adventure of finding my own way, and not in the mood to walk along the main road to get to Jan Smuts.

I bundu bashed, with caution through that area. I was very aware of every step that I took. Today was a sunny, warm day. Because of the warmth, I felt that there was more of a possibility of me encountering snakes, which I was completely up for and excited about, but not stupid about. I wasn't out to stand on a puffy's head.

As I got higher up, I discovered two old water towers, covered in graffiti, with a dumpsite right next to it and behind one it seemed like there was a makeshift bed. I walked up to them with my knife in hand, ready for any tsotsi's that might have surprised me. Fortunately (for them hehe), there were none. I carried on up and found a path just above the Maritime Warfare Training Centre. That path took me to the start of the Jan Smuts trail. I got onto it, and as I started climbing higher, I noticed something that looked like the ruins of a small old building, possibly. Of course, I was intrigued. I made my way to it, climbed over the stones, let my imagination run wild as to what could previously have been there. Knowing that centuries ago, at one stage both the Dutch and British guarded False Bay, I pondered on possibilities as to the ruins, as I walked over the stones. I took it all in for a few moments and admired the majestic bay on this sunny day, as I turned to walk back over the stones, I noticed something that I at first thought looked like a piece of rubber with a snakey look to it. That was honestly my first thought, that it was just a piece of rubber that resembled a snake. Still, I slowly looked closer to verify whether that was the case, and I quickly realized it wasn't.

I got SO excited, it was a gorgeous puffadder, the black and yellow looking kind. I wasn't entirely sure that it was a puffy at first because I hadn't seen a black and yellow one before, but I was sure that it was a type of viper because of the markings - making it venomous. I took out my phone and recorded a video of him or her and was entranced by it's beauty. Unfortunately it's a shitty video, my camera skills aren't the greatest, and I was too excited to do a better job at recording.

My assumption is that as I walked over the stones, I disturbed him while he was resting underneath/inside.

I am confident that he was not outside when I first walked by, because I was so alert and believe I would've seen him if he had been. So as I was looking about, he came to see if there was danger. He only showed what I believe was a small part of his body (I've dubbed it a he it seems). I could see his head and what I'm estimating was only a quarter of his length. I'm no snake expert, so very well could be wrong, but it seemed like a big boy. He stuck around for a few minutes, moved his body a little, and then shuffled back inside. I waited a few more minutes, while I plucked up the courage to leap over his home.

It's a pity about the lack of clarity in the videos and pictures I took, I wish I could've got better footage, but this will have to do. I shortened the video for two reasons; space allowance on the page, and my language haha. I was so excited that there were quite a few F-bombs being dropped. I could do with toning that down.

When I had gathered myself after that experience, I hopped over the stones and ran a few feet, just to be safe haha. I got back on the path and continued up. With all the recent rain we've had, there are parts of the trail that are quite overgrown, which made me a little paranoid after my encounter moments earlier. It was quite the adrenaline rush just to keep moving. I wasn't paying attention to time, but I reckon it couldn't have been more than 10 - 15 minutes of walking on fairly level ground until I reached a beacon with "STM" on it. There is a quarry not far from the beacon which I would like to go back to explore, but decided that was enough for one day. The trail disappeared after the beacon and I didn't feel comfortable trying to find my way through it while out there alone. I'll drag Steve or my brother, Tyson, along for the next adventure to check that out, and to reach the summit. In terms of safety I felt it unwise to continue on my own.

I made my way down, smiling all the way home where I ardently told Steve all about it. I even got upset with him for not seeming as enthusiastic about my adventure as I was. Poor man, the things he has to put up with sometimes, LOL.

Right after I over-reacted, he had to put up with more from me when I called from our bedroom..

You see, snakes - I love; but ticks, they give me the creeps.

When I was in the shower, I found a tick on my leg. I wasn't sure that it was one because I've never dealt with one on me before and had an image in my head of a swollen tick. What was on my leg looked like a red spider, the same spider I had brushed off my arm while out on my walk. While still in the shower I wasn't panicked, I brushed it off/ showered as per normal. But while I was drying myself, I started wondering if it could've been a tick, I'm not sure why suddenly I got that idea, but I of course then googled images of ticks.

Shit. It was a tick. That means that the one on my arm earlier was a tick too. "STEVE" I shouted from the bedroom, "Please come here, baby". He went back to being baby and I wasn't upset anymore haha. I told him about the tick in the shower and that I had one on me while walking too and that now I was freaking out because maybe there are more and suddenly I was starting to itch in funny places. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but I made him check my vajayjay because my imagination started running wild again. The tick in the shower had crawled up my shin, and was just under my knee, so others could have crawled higher too, as far as I was concerned. He laughingly had a look and told me I was being silly. I showed him the image of what the two ticks I had on me looked like and said it was flat, red and both had brushed off fairly easily. He said that when they're like that, they haven't bitten yet, or started sucking blood, otherwise it would've been a darker colour, swollen, and that I would know if it was still in me.

Relieved that I didn't have a tick in my toet, I jumped back in the shower to now wash my hair too, which I had been too lazy to do during the first shower (yes, I'm aware of the water restrictions, and they were both short showers). I gave my head a thorough wash and put Steve through another round of making sure Simone is tick free by checking my scalp. I felt a bit like a baboon while he did that. I checked the clothes I wore, and my backpack and all seemed fine. Great success.

I can't wait for the next adventure.

Xx,

Simone

Ps. Below is a screenshot of the image that was sent to my Mother and sisters. The stress was real.

The stress was real!

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