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Sunday, October 23, 2016


Saturday morning we wended our way through farm roads, past sheep and cows and dusty cornfields and painted dukas, up the Rift Valley escarpment, higher and higher, into the Aberdares.  Our google-map shortcut from Naivasha (NOT, this time we were betrayed) finally spit us out at the base of the mountains.  In spite of many camping trips here in the past, we never managed to time it right to climb to the Ol Donyo Lesatima peak, the third highest point in Kenya (after Mt. Kenya and Mt. Elgon).  In theory, the bulk of the ascent occurs by road (up to 10,000 feet or so) so the final peak climb (to 13,000ft/4001M) is do-able in a day.  But as you can see above, we were thwarted once again by roadwork within the park. Massive lorries lay down piles of "hard-core" which will eventually be spread out, but at the moment form an impenetrable block.  

Not to be totally defeated after our 3.5 hour driving investment, we confirmed with a lorry driver that we could park off the road and not be boxed in (thanks to our Swahili program, we caught that it was "sawa" to be "hapo" "mpaka" Monday . . . until Monday.  Google maps once again, estimated that parking and walking the rest of the way to the trailhead would add 3 miles so about an hour to our hike.  Seemed reasonable.

Roadwork is progressing from both ends, so the section we hiked was completely silent.  No cars.  No people.  As thunder rolled and echoed around the hills, we stopped and listened in between rumblings.  Silence.  Beauty.

We saw buffalo, reedbuck, duiker, colobus monkey, another antelope I'm not sure of.  Leopard tracks in the dust.  Elephant droppings.  We walked.  And walked.  After 2-plus hours we were sure we'd come at least 5 miles, but were no where near the trailhead.  So we lunched on our honey-covered cashews and apples, and turned back, reaching the car just as the clouds let loose a burst of hail.  The austere beauty, the thin-air elevation (10-11 K ft), the changing sky, conversation, isolation . . . wonderful.  As we drove out, we stopped to look at the Chania Falls where we've often camped before.

There is a majesty to the alpine ecosystem that may explain why God often calls people upwards to meet with them.  We're thankful to be within driving distance of protected wilderness, thankful for the people who work to keep this place pristine, thankful to be witnesses to the wonders.  Next time, coming to camp the night before, and reaching the peak . . . 

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