Two years ago while trying to skip Sunday study time at Greensteds International School Kenya. I decided to take it upon myself to join the hiking club. It was the best way to avoid doing any school work.
Little did I know that this hike would have me asking my parents for funds to go on a five day expedition to Mt. Kenya.
I had never been on a hike other the one so to be prepare myself for one of the biggest challenges of my life, I went on several hiking trails in Nakuru Kenya. After months of planning, I finally geared up to climb Mt. Kenya.
I carried my own bags for the duration of the whole trip. The bags did weigh me down on several occasions and I did have an option of having them carried by the amazing porters that accompanied us. But I wanted to challenge myself not just mentally but physically too. The porters also carried our food and did an amazing job in making sure we were nourished enough to keep on going.
Day 1: of the hike was a drilling six hour trek to the Austrian hut were we spent our first night. This day was particularly uneventful as we were all tired from our drive from Nakuru to Nanyuki north of Nairobi. It was a six hour drive from Nakuru and once we got our first hiking trail, we immediately grabbed our bags and hiked for six kilometres to the hut. We were warmly welcomed to the hut by cooks and porters who were there specifically for us, had an early supper and played a game of cards till lights out.
Day 2: was much more of a challenge. We got up at about 5am and begun an eight hour hike to Shipton’s camp. We were accompanied by about fifty German army soldiers making their way to the summit as a part of their army training.
After endless meltdowns, laughter and dehydration we made it to Shipton Camp. We were served an early dinner of ugali and beans and immediately sent off to bed.
We were to rise at 2am to begin our summit to Point Lenana. The porters said it is better to summit in the dark as during the day Lenana is impossible to climb simply because of how it appears during day light. I was given the honour of leading our group to the summit in morning.
Day 3: We got up at about 1am, bodies fatigued, eyes heavy with sleep and filled with fear for what was waiting for us on the outside. It was completely dark and the only thing guiding us was the torch attached to our heads. I was covered in multiple layers of clothing which made it difficult to climb. Despite all the layers I had on, the cold took a toll on me and I was left gasping for air on several occasions.
The biggest challenge was having to convince myself that I am capable of doing the impossible. It was freezing cold man! All I remember is struggling to get up there and having multiple break downs. The torch did not really do much as it was too cold to even watch were I was going. The worst part of it all is whenever I looked up, I could see the group of German army men and women way ahead of us. It made the feeling in my chest worse because they were a sign that we weren’t even close.
The feeling in my legs is one I never what to experience ever again. I have never climbed anything that steep at 2am in the night. The wind was harsh on my lips and I could feel them crack every second. We took some time to get to the peak. I am happy to report that I was not the only one having countless melt downs.
The best advice I got from the porters was to keep taking small steps and keep my eyes on the ground. I did just that and next thing I knew the sun had risen and all that was left was to climb giant rocks and get to the peak. At this point my chest had given up on me. It felt like someone with a giant foot was stepping on my chest and would not let go. I saw the rocks. I saw that I was almost there. I wanted to go but my chest would not let me. Mr Sanigo, who organized the hike and was my mentor during the whole trip came up to me, cheered me on and handed me a liquid. I must admit that it made things worse. I wanted to puke my guts out and I remember thinking “Why on earth did I not listen to my mum and dad.” This was a bad idea. It was a bad idea from the start but for the love of adventure I brought my big head here. I cried for a few minutes. Then I looked up and decided to go for it. I do not know what happened next, the last thing I want to do is make up what happened. All I know is I made to the peak. The experience up there was not long. It was like a freezer up there and had I stayed much longer I would not be writing this.
If you thought climbing up the peak was the hardest part, you’re probably as naïve as I was. Descending. Yoh! We were told to walk down carefully and watch the rocks. Apparently should you kick one unknowingly, it will come tumbling down and bring its friends with. It took me more an hour to walk down Point Lenana. I took my sweet time to the point that one of the porters had to drag me down and constantly reminded me that everyone else was already back at the camp having tea. I did not care. After the morning I had, I deserved to descend down that mountain like I owned it.
Photo credits: Marjorie Rugunda
Day 4 and 5: We made our back the same route we came and spent a night at the Austrian hut were we had slept the first night. Both days were uneventful. Each and every one of us was fatigued, dehydrated, smelly and tired. Most of all we had just climbed fucking Mt.Kenya. There was nothing to talk all about, all we did was walk in silence, take in the breath taking scenery one last time and quietly say to ourselves “You just fucking climbed Mt. Kenya.”