A complete recap from the team…(grab a coffee!)
Day 1 – Mount Kenya
Sirimon Gate 2700m – Old Moses 3200m
The team began their ascent of Mount Kenya full of enthusiasm and excitement. We spent the morning walking, talking and getting to know each other a little better.
We were bewilded to find lunch set up for us along side the track and Sheridan out of all of us was the most excited for the delivery of Peanut Butter – a luxury she thought she had foregone on the mountain.
We all learnt some new Swahili words mainly Pole pole (slow slow) and for some of the team this was the biggest challenge we faced on the day.
Despite encountering some showers along the way the team arrived at Old Moses around 4pm just ahead of a torrential downpour. We were able to trial out our great wet weather gear donated by Crag Hoppers and we are happy to report that we managed just beautifully despite the turn in weather.
We were greeted by our porters who had already set up our camp to our amazement and were ready on hand with a much longed for tea or coffee.
The team were introduced to ‘Simba’ (Lion in Swahili) who was the chief organizer and food enforcer. We learnt quickly that Simba’s vocabulary was limited only to Yes, More, and double. There was no room for no, small amount or only a little.
Heather made herself known to Simba early on and became his ‘project’ on the mountain. Heather remained strong and vigilant in attempting to teach Simba some new words relating to Moderation, Enough and No thank you. We will see if she has better luck on Meru.
We all retired for an early night and ready for an early start the next day.
Day 2 – Mount Kenya
Old Moses 3200m – Liki North 3950m
The team awoke to a down pour and saturated tracks. We began our walk at 8am after the food assault by Simba. No one escaped unscathed.
We all looked smashing in our wet weather gear and in particular our Gaitors, A must have for every girls’ wardrobe and no doubt will be a regular sight on the streets of LA, NY, Sydney and London in the upcoming seasons!!
Our guides kept our spirits up by constantly underestimating how far we had to go but we eventually made it to camp at a good hour and again, our incredible porters had set up our camp and tea/coffee was on hand upon our arrival.
We had some camp ‘mates’ at Liki North and were introduced to the locals. The Rock Hyrax or Rock rats (think ground hog thingy in Caddy Shack) were ferocious and not impressed by our intrusion.
After a demanding day of walking the team participated in a session of ‘group yoga and stretching’. Ema our Head Guide thankfully had a Rugby ball which was the source of entertainment to some of us for the afternoon.
Dinner again was awesome though Massive! Simba again employing his selective hearing ensured that we all consumed enough energy for the next days walking at a ratio of approximately 50% our body weight – or so it seemed.
Again, we crashed early as it was freezing and the rain was about to set it.
Day 3 – Mount Kenya
Liki North 3950m – Shipton 4200m
We arose early to a steep incline and demanding hike. We entertained ourselves with stories from the homelands (just joking) but we were all chatted a lot and enjoying the great humor amongst the team. Thankfully the Americans (especially Tracie and Sarah) were able to talk under water and kept the rest of us amused and entertained when we were out of breath and struggling.
We were met at our campsite by all of our porters in chorus. They sang and danced for us and despite most of us just making up the words (and the dance moves – Harvey and Jess) we joined in and felt pretty chuffed to have had such a reception.
We spent the afternoon trying to arrange ourselves into Model style poses to send our thanks to our sponsors – Dare to Be and Crag hoppers. It was interesting to say the least given that none of the team had had the luxury of a shower – or a mirror for a couple of days….
The team were feeling a little fragile and as such all succumbed to multiple meal servings from Simba and hit the hay early in preparation for our 3am wake up call for Summit! – All were very excited, some very nervous and a few of us unable to sleep for the affects of altitude.
Day 4 – Summit Day of Mount Kenya
Shiptons 4200m – Summit at Point Lenana 4985m – Mackinders Camp 4300m
The entire team summited! – a very exciting and rewarding morning and certainly very amazing for those in the team who were suffering quite severely from the affects of altitude. It was amazing to have all the team on top of Mount Kenya at the same time given also the incredible and massive effort of Rachel whose determination despite feeling the affects of altitude was unwaivering. Never did we hear a complaint from her even though we could see how much she was going through.
The sunrise was a very welcome one and the first rays of sun we had seen since our ascent. We (again) spent some time atop taking photos and enjoying the morning and we’re fortunate to begin our descent just as the clouds began to roll in.
The entire team is incredibly grateful to both Jeanne and Ema for their photographic skills and eagerness. The pressure of 11 cameras was removed and the team eagerly awaits to see the incredible images that they have snapped.
The trek down to camp was a challenging and difficult one. Hunger and tiredness gave way to delirium which in turn gave way to hunger and tiredness. Day dreams of ‘if you could have anything to eat right now what would it be’ was a great time waster as we descended on loose rock and gravel down 45 degree slopes. We got to the bottom and welcomed Simba and the ‘food assault’ with open arms!
Most of the team slept and those that couldn’t enjoyed the laid back tunes that Amy’s limited I-pod had to offer – Holly Valance ‘Kiss Kiss’ – for those that can remember it?!
Dinner was served roughly 3 hours after lunch and many of the team attempted to be MIA. Simba went on a man-hunt and rounded up those attempted to abscond. All we’re fed (some against their will – Heather and Tracey, Boo and Rachael) and we retired early but with the knowledge of a sleep in the next day.
Day 5 – Mount Kenya
Mackinders Camp 4300m – MET station.
Arose late (8am) for a leisurely stroll from Mackinders Camp to the MET station. The walk was more strenuous than anticipated and a number of the girls in the team took some glorious stacks in the boggy marsh. Amy, Sheridan, Heather and Sarah in particular were incredibly graceful as they slipped and slid on the marsh though somehow Amy in all her stacks managed to be remain one of the cleanest. Niamh and Harvey also managed to mis-judge a step and landed in some trouble. Niamh stepping straight into an abyss of sorts and Harvey almost losing her entire boot (a number of times) into the quick sand bog style mud!
At the MET station again we were greeted by an incredible song and dance put on by the porters and guides and as a team, it was just incredibly humbling. A few of the team joined in and a few more then last time knew the words – this time we felt a little more deserving to such a great reception.
We again shared the camp site but this time not with the rock rats but with some rather irate monkeys. They seemed to know that we were women and therefore took no notice of our attempts of authority (despite Jeanne’s efforts to ascert herself). The afternoon was filled with relaxation, African Twister, Yoga and Soccer – but with a Rugby Ball! Tracie, Jess and Harvey attempted to mix it with the big shots but settled happily for back field after some time.
The Monkeys were tamed by ‘Simba’ – no one knows how and he refused to tell us – the Monkey whisper he is now known however. Dinner was a welcomed feast and we were treated with Milk after having being re-issued with supplies.
Day 6 – Mount Kenya
MET Station 2950m – Nanyuki
We left knowing that we had a remaining 9km’s to go and that a shower (or two) awaited the team.
Laura was there to greet us and after having waited for 5 days her excitement almost matched ours. We of course apologized before hugging her for our ‘lack of showering’.
We arrived back at Nanyuki and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon before a BBQ which was arranged by Laikepia Wildlife Forum on our behalf with the local Laikepia community. It was a great experience though a little overwhelming and Boo and Sarah spoke on behalf of the team to say just how amazed we all are of the work being done in this region, our great thanks for the effort and the reception they have given us and for giving us something to aspire too. It was a great evening and with the addition of some the guides it was a great opportunity to force Simba to eat eat eat!
Meeting with the community and discussing the upcoming projects was a great way for the team to see just how far and how wide our efforts in fundraising are going and that all the work over the past year has been worth while.