Written by: Moses Mwai
All of the walking and adrenaline junkies who have trekked up to the peak of Mount Kenya will tell you that this mountainous region is undeniably stunning. I always used to admire and envy these people as they dressed warmly, preparing to head for an epic mountain climbing experience. Every time I heard of the term “destination Kenya”, Mount Kenya was the first thing that rang in my mind. So finally I decided to do the climb for myself with Rosolo Safaris and Events.
Past the equator, in a little town called Nanyuki, my hiking group had some snacks to gear us up at the entrance. At Sirimon Gate we sorted out our park fees with KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service) before setting off through the thick Mount Kenya forest. The first stretch from the gate really burnt up a lot of our energy as we trekked more than 8km up the steep road.
Up the mountain, we came across some fresh elephant droppings. Then, not much further along the path, we found broken branches and uprooted trees. This got us all a bit worried. Coming face to face with an elephant was no one’s idea of fun in our exhausted state. My muscles ached, and the bags made us feel like we were carrying rocks on our backs. But all the same, because we were travelling in the rainy and foggy month of April we had nice, cold air keeping us going. The urge to get to the top only made us stronger.
Four hours of continuous walking up the hill got us to the Old Moses Camp in the darkness of night and here we could finally rest. The dinner was super and the camping grounds were already erected with tents ready to retire.
This was the best feeling I had ever felt. Old Moses is 3,300 metres above sea level. Here you can clearly see Lenana, one of the highest peaks of Mount Kenya. The camp is located at a part of the mountain called Hearth where no trees grow taller than my height.
I couldn’t wait for the following day.
Early in the morning as I climbed out of my tent, I saw the peak of this ginormous mountain for the first time. I knew I would try to get as close as possible to the peak that day as we geared up. Up past the Hearth, we went to Moorland where the only plant visible was grass. Looking back, we couldn’t even see the camp site we had spent the night in.
So far my heart was still at its normal beat, and the sun was still shining. Clear streams of water made their way downhill and on enquiring, we found out this was a from glacier.
The level of excitement in the group rose as we saw the rocky part of the mountain in the distance. Further ahead, the peak of the mountain had started to become visible again. The place was gorgeous. The scenic view of the nature from this point made me smile, despite the ache that my muscles were feeling.
Soon, I started panting for no reason whatsoever and I remembered that I was warned how hard it was to make it to the top in one day. Most people advise taking two days because of the time it takes to acclimatise to the altitude after each level, but we were on a mission to get it under our belt that day.
This did not deter me though, as we marched ahead, determined to make it to the end. Many in our group couldn’t make it to the top and turned back, but those of us who thought we could pushed through with sheer determination.
The rocky portion of the mountain was the most cumbersome to conquer. We had to rest so many times to get accustomed to the altitude. The skies were still clear as we heard the stream gushing ahead. The hope and anticipation of getting to the peak got stronger the higher we climbed.
But as soon as we approached the closest view point, we had a major drawback. As we looked back there was a great fog that had occupied the whole mountain in the blink of an eye.
This could only mean two things: One being there was heavy rain just about to pour down; or two, the thickness of the fog meant that we couldn’t see or get closer to the peak as we had planned. This jeopardised all my great plans on this epic trek.
But on we marched, battling the fog as we went. Asking myself if this day could get any worse, the rain started to pour mercilessly making all of us soaking wet.
Unfortunately, after fighting against sleet and fog for a while we eventually headed back to the camp and had to cut our expedition short. According to the weatherman the rains were due to continue for the next couple of days and the next two camps were still quite a distance away and unfortunately we just couldn’t make it in the rain. The higher we went the steeper it was, and the slower our pace became and very few people in the group could have endured the hike up to the next camp. In the end we made it up to the 4,400 metre mark.
All the same, we loved this journey and without doubt, I will go back again if given the chance. Maybe next time we will even make it to the top!