waking up in Spout Cave

It was so pleasant to sleep in the cave.  During the night something shot out of the rocks into my back and off into the rocks again.  A little mouse.  I thought these things were supposed to hibernate or something.  Later another sped around the back of the cave.  I have been troubled by bushy tailed rats before, who can be really persistent in looking through packs for food.  But this time I had put all of my food in a bag hanging from a flake in the roof of the cave (me 1: mice 0).

The morning broke clear, with a fresh easterly wind (which did not suggest bad weather).  So I got up and painted this watercolour, a morning view of the same scene from the previous night:


mmm – OK – a useful record for a studio version maybe.

Then, just because it was so nice up there I dawdled as I drank some tea and did a watercolour of my cooker:


Then I packed up and headed out.  I had a pile of pumpernickle bread that I decided not to carry down and left for the mice.

On the way down I paused on the Shale Band, when I found three oranges I had carried up and certainly did not want to carry a step further.  So I sat and painted this view – similar to the one of the previous day:


And then I walked down the final ravine to the car.

There was a final river to cross and on the road up the oak trees I saw baboon prints in the sand.  I had walked into a troup the previous day, on the way up but they had given way.  But this I knew was NOT a good sign.  And sure enough – they had been all over my car – maybe they could smell the remaining food inside – but they had broken off my radio antennae and carried it off – I could not find it anywhere.


21 thoughts on “waking up in Spout Cave

  1. All of these with the stories are so interesting. The bottom picture is sooooooo cool. The texture in the rocks and the texture in the mountains balances the wash areas in the middle and the sky. The variation adds such nice depth. It also helped a ton for you to push those darks to describe the mountains. Baboons? My goodness, I will never complain about a raccoon again.

    • Hey Leslie – thanks for the comment. It was great in the cave and I felt relaxed though I must say it takes me a while to settle into being out on my own. Sitting painting was so therapeutic – as an introvert working with people, this is just what I needed. Those baboons are fearsome creatures the big males are incredibly powerful. A friend of mine who is a farmer said he saw a baboon grab a lamb by its front and back legs and rip it in half in one sweep. And a pack of baboons will surround and kill a leopard. But fortunately in the wild they shy away from people. In some of the more popular hikes though they are known to mug hikers and rip through their bags for food. At Cape Point, which is such a popular tourist destination, they have become so used to being fed by people wanting to take pictures that they are a menace. I had one jump over my lap in the driver’s seat to grab a bag of chips on the seat next to me. So I give as much respect as possible.

  2. Huh? Did I miss something? Are you on some nature outing? Trying to find your spirit guide? Trying to get killed? Why aren’t you working? Where is your family? Have you been kidnapped?

    I CANNOT tell you how skeeved I was when you described the mouse (mice) and rats. Honey, there’s a reason they invented Marriotts!

    However, the paintings are BEAUTIFUL. I particularly love the bottom one. The colors are fabulous, there is a feeling of coolness in the air and the mountain peaks are just so sharp!
    Are those grasses in the foreground?

    I guess I missed a few posts and will now have to go back and read why the hell you are out in the wilderness. I just got 3 mosquito bites from standing outside my building for a few minutes and don’t want to go out again until December.


    • Hi Carol – nice to see you here again. Well I took a short break. The last few months have been hectic with a capital TIC! But I am back at work now. I took some time with my family but Aura granted me time off on my own even though she was not feeling so well which was special. Being out was really good.
      What does skeeved mean? What a great word. The mice were OK. When they realised there was nothing for them they calmed down. They are so sweet. But naughty!

      Yes the shale band through the Cedarberg is rich with grasses and restios which are grass-like plants we use for thatching here. The yellows and greens are the different plant types. I want to do more of these paintings to capture the patterns. The mountains were just so beautiful. Thanks for the positive feedback. The air was crisp and there was a strong breeze blowing. I wanted to hang around longer but was mindful of a three hour drive back to Somerset West.

      Fortunately there were no mozzies up there although the other night I zap three on my legs while I was painting on the beach – the bites were still itchy this morning!

      Heh heh – to be sure there is ow in outside but the rewards are maginficent. Maybe it should be called ‘wowtside’
      Thank you for making me smile again today.

      • Yeah, I’m still staying in the Marriott. You can stay in the cave. (Although I can’t wait to someday see all the animals and the mountains, I prefer to sleep inside. What can I say? I’m a city girl.)

        Skeeved means grossed out, disgusted, to get a sketchy feeling about a situation. Originates from the Italian word “schifo” which means disgust. Other forms are skeevatz,exclamation; skeevy (adverb)as in “he is so skeevy”, skeeved out (verb) as in “I am skeeved out”.

  3. Phew Stephen, I can hardly keep up with you – you’re prolific.

    Love the details of your trip – that cave looks quite high up and the valley seems to go on for ever. Carol’s right, you perfectly managed to capture that early morning chill in the air and the stillness. Don’t suppose a mobile ‘phone would have much of a signal out there. (baboons 1: you 0)

    • Hi June – Well that is all for now. I am getting my shoulder to the grindstone or whatever… What I love about the Cedarberg is that you can hike for days and still have space to do more. There are these ridges to climb and long plateaus and valleys. Actually I got enough signal from the cave to give my wife a call which felt quite strange so I turned off.
      I have had great feedback from you guys on this little trip and the comments about a book are exercising my mind. We have flower season coming up and there are some stunning places in Namaqualand…
      think think think…

      Yes – and those baboons definitely got one up on me – even though they didn’t score the goodies in the car. In Betty’s Bay there is a group of them that break into houses, and they have learnt to open doors using the handles. The friends I stayed with last weekend are constantly fixing windows. And it seems baboons will run away from men but not women. They come into the house and raid the fridge while the lady of the house is there. And they have very big teeth – as I am sure you know.

  4. That last painting is soooo well done and beautiful. I love the sharpness of the top of the mountains, all the different greens, the sense of rocks, and the sweeping grass…
    I also do like the cup on the stove. It is fun, and I get to see what you use… Next time I use mine, I’ll sketch it toooo…
    I agree with you: mice are nice; and I wouldn’t mind climbing mountains to go sketch a BABOON (of all things) !!

  5. Hey Isabelle – thanks hey – what a beautiful place – Your posting about your hike crossed my mind up there a couple of times – maybe you would like it here. Don’t you love the technology of hiking and climbing – that stove cooks a pot of water in no time, though the snow took ages which I had not expected. There is such beauty in funcitonality. I am sure you would love baboons. They are wild and can be dangerous but they are also are very funny. They sometime do really silly things. I sort of mirror I suppose.

  6. Hi Steve
    Thanks for sharing your “other” self on the blog. Always fascinating and affirming to see the human side of someone you’ve only known in the professional sense. I think the painting are really great and they will help me look differently at the medium of water in future.

  7. This is wonderful! Beautiful place/paintings/feeling. I love that you write so much about what you paint. I remember reading before that because of something you’d read you had decided to start painting your travel experiences as opposed to photographing them. What a brilliant idea.

    And thanks to you the cave mice had full bellies and one of the baboon gang may well be wearing a cool metal hat of sorts and trasmitting all kinds of soundwaves to his hairy friends! 🙂

    Thank You!

    • Hi Forrester – heh heh – all the beasties – nice to see you stopping by and thanks for the comments on my work – a watercolour journal is definitely the way to go. Right now I have to focus on a completely different world while at the same time dreaming of adventures – all part of the juggle – cheers hey S

  8. The last one is such a strong watercolour. Congratulations. I love it. The way you’ve captured the feeling of distance is just excellent.
    Very interesting to see you painting your camping equipment, too. I like to see the different subject matter.

    • thanks K – I am just building up a head of steam to do a studio version of this – Yeh my cooker – it looks like I got the perspective wrong on the base.

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