Friends of Stellenbosch Mountain

FSM holds Lower hacks and Upper hacks as described below. "Lower" means "low-lying nature area"; "Upper" means "somewhere higher up the mountain". All hacks are announced on the FSM email list.

We decide on hack dates, times and locations based on this reasoning.

Upcoming hacks

20 May 8:00
Upper hack on mountainside. Can still change depending on weather
17 June 8:00
Date and starting time subject to change
15 July 8:00
Could be 22 July; TBA
Some past hacks

Lower hacks

We usually meet at the main gate to the Paradyskloof nature area, also known as Eden Forest. Here is a street map to the meet-up location. The hack itself typically takes two hours; together with getting organised, reaching the hack site and the social afterwards, the entire hack event usually takes 3.5 hours.

What to bring (Lower hacks)

Conditions change, but in general you want to bring along: For more information email heggers AT pm DOT me or hanneskoekemoer AT proton DOT me

What to expect (Lower hacks)

Hacks are our core activity. We drive in convoy from the gate to some corner of the fynbos or renosterveld nature area of Stellenbosch Mountain, hike the last part of the way, and then saw, cut or pull the alien invasive plant species which occur. Afterwards, we have a social with tea, cool drink, cookies, whatever is brought along.

The terrain varies widely. Sometimes we work in low-lying territory close to the cars; at other times a bit of walking is needed. Upper hacks can imply going up onto the higher mountain slopes. The vegetation can vary from small shrubs on open terrain to dense river thicket. You can expect to have need of all your muscles and even your brain. This is much better than gym training, and it's free.

You can expect to meet good people: professionals, retirees, students, parents, children, all sorts. Ages vary from 6 to 84. They all care deeply about our nature heritage and its future and about Stellenbosch. They don't brag or build brand, but they are worth their weight in gold.

Last but not least: the Cape fynbos is unique, and it is beautiful. Expect to be surprised by the large variety of shapes, sizes, colours and the sheer diversity and inventiveness of the fynbos ecosystem. There is always something in flower, but August, September and October are the best. If you are lucky, you may find yourself on a tour of the morning's discoveries led by an attending botanist.

Attendance register and indemnity

If you want to participate in a hack, you are required to sign the attendance register and indemnity form at the start of the hack. No exceptions can be made.

Upper hacks

Purpose and conditions of Upper hacks

The purpose of Upper hacks is to hunt and eradicate invasives growing on the mid- and upper-level parts of the mountain. This is hugely important and valuable work because even single plants left unattended will eventually multiply to re-infest the entire mountainside.

Upper hacks are arranged on an ad hoc basis and then announced on the FSM email list. They are more demanding physically as we hike up the mountain to reach the invasives growing up there (see also the warning below). The terrain varies from near-level to fairly steep slopes, but we do not do rock-climbing. Loose rocks are common. There are no footpaths. The vegetation varies from easily traversed knee-deep fynbos to dense thickets.

The unique attraction of Upper hacks is that you get to discover hidden places and rare plants which you would never reach otherwise. You are rewarded with magnificent views. And you are making a very valuable contribution to our nature areas.

Because of these conditions and the extra hiking times, a Upper hack often takes four hours or more; seven-hour tours do happen.

What to bring (Upper hacks)

For Upper hacks, we pay even more attention to the weather, to safety and to good preparation than for regular ones. The following equipment and preparation is essential. The hack leader is authorised to refuse participation of anyone who is not properly equipped. For more information, email hanneskoekemoer AT proton DOT me or heggers AT pm DOT me.

You MUST bring along: FSM will supply (or you can bring it yourself if you have): Optional items

Safety and responsibility

Choosing dates, times and locations for hacks

Choice of dates and times: We hold our Lower hacks once a month, normally on the third Saturday of the month, with exceptions. Starting times for lower hacks depend on season and weather: In summer, starting times are usually as early as possible in the morning. The reason is threefold: Hacking can be hard work, and the hard physical work is best carried out in the coolness of the morning. It also allows hackers to do their Saturday shopping. And early mornings with sun flooding the dewy valley, the Cape Flats and Table Mountain in the distance are spectacular. In winter, on the other hand, afternoons are good alternatives. Final decisions are typically made 4-5 days beforehand based on the weather forecast, public holidays and vacations, and availability of hack leaders. Upper hack dates and times are arranged by their participants and can change at short notice.

Choice of locations: Lower hack locations are chosen with a view to relatively easy access, while Upper hack locations can range all over the mountain. The focus is always on areas which are either very valuable, such as Critical Biodiversity Areas, or locations which have a low density of invasives in difficult-to-reach places. Our approach and focus complements the work of hired contractors, who will normally work in flat areas with high densities of invasives.

Some past hacks

15 April 23 8:00 182 Schuilplaats below waterworks: thistle, wattle (A. mearnsii), Port Jackson (A. saligna), bugweed (Solanum)
1 April 23 8:00 181 Upper hack, Sheepwalk and cliffs above. Large Hakeas.
18 February 23 7:00 180 Schuilplaats banks below waterworks (wattle, pittosporum, A saligna, bugweed)
21 January 23 7:00 179 Upper hack in upper kloof of Schuilplaats (large hakeas)
17 December 22 13:00 178 Inside the waterworks dam enclosure (brambles, wattles, A saligna)