Half a century ago in the Overberg, farmer Jannie Willemse would pack his scissors and combs into a small bag every Saturday morning. He’d say goodbye to his family and walk from the farm Hartebeesrivier in the village of Tesselaarsdal, over the Klein River Mountains to Stanford – a distance of 25 miles there and back – where, according to an article published in Die Transvaler in March 1950, he cut Stanfordians’ hair for one shilling per head.
After a day of hairdressing, he’d return home, walking about 40 km in total. At the time, he had been following this ritual for 24 years and had walked about 30 000 miles – that’s 48 000 km!
It’s a cool Saturday morning when we sign the register for the Haarkapper Hiking Trail in Phillipskop Mountain Reserve, about 12 km east of Stanford. Chris Whitehouse, owner of the reserve, collaborated with Johan and Elsa van Zyl, the owners of the neighbouring farm Elzaksa, to create the trail. Johan built part of the route for the 2017 Cape Epic on the Tesselaarsdal side of the mountain. After the race, he and Chris combined some of those trails with existing routes on Phillipskop, and the Haarkapper was born.