Mount Kenya we decided to do rather slow, even though we were still faster than everybody else, and as much on our own as we could, even though everybody else had porters. The hike was easy enough, but after more than six month of African safari game drives (excluding Madagascar because there all we did was hike) it was a challenge. All in moderation, the first day we did only nine km uphill, the second day – twelve, but on the third day we got up at two in the morning with the rest of the hopefuls, drooled over their all-inclusive breakfasts while gobbling down some instant noodles, and set off to the top. Another twelve km, a steep climb over volcanic rock in the dark.
We had a group of Stanford grads on our tails, but I wasn't going to let them pass me. Yesterday the scenery was distracting enough for us to arrive to the high camp last. Giant cabbage-like lobelia plants were at our feet at the start of the day and Syke's monkeys hung from mossy trees, then the lobelias moved on to grow on thick stems and were joined by more of their sort that looked like giant candles of ostrich feathers. Finally, the peak itself loomed on the horizon. Far, but there. Now, hiking up in the dark to meet the sunrise, carefully stepping on frozen puddles and gasping a bit for air - feeling the five thousand meter mark approaching, I only wanted to be the first. Just this one time.
"Aha, ha-ha!" I yelled down to the rest when we were finally on top, but the hikers below did not share my enthusiasm.
After the sunrise we left the peak to overflow with climbers. All the way down. We ended up walking over fifteen hours that day, and my sore feet somehow drowned my little victory, but this is what we have memories for. Climbing mountains for the sake of getting there, turning around, and getting back down, is (at least for me) only fun in retrospect.
Mt. Kenya Gallery