The sun was setting on a beautiful afternoon on the Chogoria Trail descending Mt. Kenya. It was our eighth hour hiking, and Jarrod and I were casually walking though the rainforest. I was looking down, trying to avoid another ankle sprain, when suddenly Jarrod stopped and shouted, “Elephants!” One large and one small elephant stood looming over us to our right. The large elephant took a few steps forward. Our guide started running.
I climbed Mt. Kenya last week! At 17,000 feet, Mt. Kenya is the second highest mountain in Africa. I traveled with Jarrod, a U.W. radiology resident and a truly awesome guy, not just because he remembered the altitude sickness drugs. Our trip lasted five days, including the four-hour drive to and from Mt. Kenya. We traversed the mountain with 2 guides using the Sirimon trail over Point Lenana and down the Chogoria trail.
Away we go. Thank you to Jarrod for taking most of these photos!
|Day 1. The hike was a three hour trek up this road to Old Moses Camp. Here is a our baboon welcoming committee.|
|Jarrod walking into Old Moses Camp.|
|The view from Old Moses. The environment no longer can sustain trees.|
|A picture of me taking a picture of the sunset.|
|Day 2. I asked our guide, Geoffrey, "What's the plan for the day?" He pointed at the mountain and said, "We go there." Actually, we had a seven hour hike up to Shipton's camp at the base of the peak.|
|Winter is coming.|
|...his hand is still in there.|
|This lobelia is a Red Sox fan.|
|We arrive at Shipton's Camp.|
|Day 3. We left at 3:00am to climb the final 2,000 feet to Lenana Peak. My camera caught frostbite, so all the remaining pics are from Jarrod.|
|Sylvester Stallone would enjoy the climb (um, it is very rocky)|
|Made it to the highes...wait, this is the 3rd highest peak?! The other two peaks require rock climbing or technical training. Lenana is cool because you can read the new Kenyan constitution in the box to the left. 17,000 feet!|
|Jarrod also made it.|
|We were lucky because we were able to see the sunrise over the clouds, and then the clouds drifted away.|
|A picture at the same point on our way down.|
|Geoffrey could somehow sprint the downhill. Here he is waiting for us and taking a break.|
|The crew at the bottom: Jarrod, J.J., Geoffrey, and, um J-Dan.|
|Day 4. We hiked along the ridge of the mountain on the Chogoria trail. The tarns or small mountain lakes led the way.|
We were high.
|We began walking though tall grass, wild flowers, and loose rocks....yup, I sprained my ankle right about NOW.|
|I told them to go on without me. It looked like a beautiful hike.|
|Ok, I hobbled along too and just slowed everyone down.|
|The trees are back! Into the rainforest.|
|We arrived at Mt. Kenya Cabins to this sign. We were wondering what all the giant poop was around our cabin. Water buffalo! It was getting late, I guess I should...|
|...just sleep outside. This grass is never mowed! The water buffalo and water buck eat all the grass.|
|Water buck in the morning|
|Day 5. We hiked two hours down past enormous amounts of elephant dung until a four by four picked us up to take us to the main road. I was sore, tired, and excited to see the truck. Eight hours later, we were home in Naivasha.|
Other highlights of the trip:
My favorite running joke of the trip: Jarrod is a curious guy and asks many questions. As we were reaching Shipton’s camp at the base of the peak, Jarrod asked Geoffrey, our guide, “Do many people get sick and have to turn around? How steep is the peak?” Geoffrey turned around and stopped. He look squarely at Jarrod and said, “Jarrod, it’s OK, you can do it. Do not be scared. You can find the courage to climb the mountain.” I offered to hold Jarrod’s hand throughout the summit, but Jarrod told Geoffrey that he would somehow find the courage to climb. Two days later, after the summit, we had to climb a 600-meter, steep section before descending the mountain. Geoffrey led us on an exaggerated zig-zaggy route. Halfway through, Geoffrey stopped us and explained, “Dan, this is very steep, and we are climbing in zig-zags for Jarrod.” Jarrod said that although he was scared, he would find the courage to continue. I love Jarrod.
On our last night at Mt. Kenya Cabins, Jarrod opened up a package of gummy babies. I’m not kidding, they were not gummy bears, but gummy babies. Our guide/cook, J.J., was a smooth operator and man of few words. J.J. walked by as Jarrod was opening the gummy babies. Jarrod offered him some. J.J. simply said, “I take them?” Jarrod said, “Sure, J.J., you take them.” J.J. grinned and took them. I hope they were delicious.
Oh, back to the elephants! I guess adult elephants charge when they feel their young are being threatened. Our guide, Geoffrey, thought the adult elephant was about to charge. He started running, and shouted for us to do same. I limped off, but Jarrod snapped a picture and then ran off behind the guide. The elephants apparently did not see us as a threat, and they just sauntered off into the trees. We returned a few minutes later, but they were gone. Even in those few seconds, seeing elephants in the wild without being aided by a safari is something I will never forget.
The food was certainly a highlight. J.J. is a wizard on a camp stove. We ate ten-times better than we expected.
We traveled through tea country on our way to and from Naivasha. Tea, flowers and coffee are Kenya’s largest exports.
This was a tremendous experience. A big thank you to Camille for encouraging me to go, and also to Jarrod for finding the courage.
Seven more weeks….Thank you for reading!