Hiking Mt Kenya, one of the snow covered mountains in the tropics through Kamweti route will take you through the castle forest lodge. Here you get to see scenic water falls with ice cold waters and hear birds chirping in the dense forest. They say there are about 170 plus birds species in there. There are plenty of wild animals too.These include but are not limited to elephants, buffaloes, hyenas and bushbucks. You can immerse yourself in horse riding, swimming, fishing and many other outdoor activities. It is the scenic waterfalls that however did it for me. There’s a staircase leading to the fall that somehow reminds me of Jacobs ladder. I feel the presence of the Almighty here in the midst of his creation. Something about the sound of water descending down the rock seems to take me back in time. My time capsule machine is back in gear one. The cogs in my mind are turning like a turbine. It’s a hot Saturday afternoon and like that song, ‘tabia za Wakenya’ we can almost tell it’s going to rain. Coffee picking chores are over. My left eye has been shaking since the time we started grading the coffee beans, accentuating the sense of a looking downpour. We’ve eaten ‘githeri’ to our fill. Our stomachs are heavy and protruding like, ‘Incy wincy spider’s stomach.’ The full bellies combined with a hard works day are giving us the yawns. We therefore decide to grab the bull by its horns; an afternoon nap is a well earned reward. The elder kids have gone to the factory to sell coffee which means we have the bed all to ourselves. We’ll fit without crashing into each other as opposed to when its all four of us. I still can’t fathom how four people would fit in that bed made of rubber and start snoring almost immediately. Talk of small miracles. So we are trying to nap and when the nap is just about to come 😉, we hear the first rain drops hit the roof. Before we realize it we have started singing, ‘I hear thunder, yes I do. Pitter patter raindrops I’m wet through so are you.’In the twinkle of an eye, we are scampering out of bed screaming and dancing as if we have won the lottery.There’s no one to keep us from dancing in the rain. We don’t care about pharyngitis, tonsillitis and all those other ‘itis’ which are bound to come visiting us soon. If you said we don’t have a care in the world you wouldn’t be far from the truth. As if that ain’t enough the sound on the roof changes and we are grinning from ear to ear; it’s like rescue bots being told ‘rescue bots roll to the rescue.’ Only there were no rescue bots back then; it’s only just hailstones.Wait a minute, did I just say just hailstones. If the rain was the lottery, this is now the jackpot. What farmers would curse because of the wreck it’s bound to cause on the crops is our wildest fantasy come to life. Dancing is forgotten, our palms are outstretched trying to catch ‘the maize’ as we used to call it. It’s a competition of who will catch the big one. It doesn’t matter how cold the stones are on our bare hands, this is the closest we’ll ever come to experiencing winter here in the tropics. We gulp the maize down our throats and isn’t it ooh so heavenly. Childhood/ rainfall/ waterfall, what an exciting adventure life was back then. I can’t help but wonder like Merle Haggard, ‘are the good times really over.’ I guess all we can do is reminisce and chronicle. And visit more beautiful places that trigger beautiful memories.
After the detour that took us through the beautiful Murang’a gorges we proceed to rapids camp. The rough road is quite challenging especially at some point where a seasonal stream meets the road. Despite these challenges we meander with the road ahead of us. On arrival, we are greeted by grass so green and well- manicured that I feel like making grass soup. That soup that Tom and Mary made and developed stomach troubles. On second thought I’d rather just roll on the grass instead. It reminds me of that song by Charley pride, ‘and touch the grass of home so green.’ At the camp we get a warm reception and are introduced to a host of activities which include but are not limited to: kayaking, rafting, rock climbing and zip lining. Something about the hum of the river takes me back in time to my childhood memories. It’s like I’m traveling through a time capsule and memories embedded in my subconscious come to life. The stage is set; it’s a beautiful Saturday morning. It’s mostly beautiful because there is no school today. I’ve been listening to that song,’uvivu ni adui mkubwa kwa ujenzi wa taifa,’ for five days nonstop. It’s time to take a break and roll on with Sagana River. Its washing day and it smells like spring. My siblings and I pack our clothes i.e tie them in bedsheets and with basins on our heads we head to the river. We have also packed plenty of tea and sweetpotatoes to help us manage the day. The day’s activities are going to be energy consuming or should I say extreme. On arrival to the river we find that our side of the river is not very laundry friendly. Mister Muhindi’s side though has a beautiful meadow almost as beautiful as the meadow at rapids camp. He also has a barbed wire fence which serves as the divider between his and Mr Theuri’s farm. This will serve as the hanging line. We banter and sing as we go about our laundry making sure to watch Mister Muhindi’s cows not to come near our soap; otherwise we’ll wash the rest of the clothes with ‘maji kavu’ water with no soap. All this while we are surreptitiously eyeing and salivating over Mister Theuri’s well-tended sugarcanes. There is no sugarcane at home because we can hardly wait for them to grow a nod before we uproot and eat together with the roots. Somehow we manage to finish the laundry and hang the clothes on the barbed wire fence. By this time the sun is high up in the sky and ‘ooh the snakes crawl at night.’ We don’t want to crawl though, we are not snakes and it’s not night yet. Its time for something else and that’s a good swim. We dive into the river with our petticoats and some t shirts. There were no swimming contumes back then. Within no time it’s backstroke, forward stroke and splish splash when someone dives into the river near you. We swim without a care in the world. Then suddenly, someone screams and we all turn towards the direction she is running towards. We scramble out of the water and run with her thinking she has seen a mermaid. The fence comes to the horizon and it finally clicks. Mister Theuri’s cow is gobbling down our sister’s new school blouse. It’s a tag of war as we wrestle to remove the part of the blouse that is almost landing in the cow’s rumen. Whoever came with that wrestling slogan that, ‘raw is war’ was wrong. This is the real war. It’s a fight between life and death. If the blouse is swallowed how will we go back home? Did I mention that the blouse was bought last week and had only seen a week of school? Now blouse, ‘if you think you are going to skive classes that fast, you are way too long.’ Somehow the blouse seems to hear us and the cow gives up and regurgitates the blouse. However! the bright yellow that was boundering on mustard is not only green but creased. Nothing that a good scrub and encounter with a borrowed charcoal iron won’t fix though. After hanging it to dry again, we decide that we’ve had enough swimming and so we stay close to the fence and munch on our sweet potatoes. They have remained warm thanks to the sunshine. After eating we realize that we could blackmail Mister Theuri with ‘the cow chewing our blouse story.’ We send our convoy and before they even reach where he is sitting under a jacaranda tree, he already knows whats spinning through our small skulls. He was watching the whole cow wrestling fiasco from a distance. He cuts some sugarcanes for the entourage and they come back smiling like the cat that caught the canary.When the clothes dry it’s time to climb the hill and go back home after a day well spent. How I miss those days. Keep on humming as you roll to the Indian Ocean sweet Sagana river.
Have you ever taken a detour that was frustrating yet exhilarating at the same time? Here’s what happened. Its mother’s day and we are headed to rapids camp in Murang’a County. The camp is just by the edge of Sagana River which divides Kirinyaga and Murang’a counties. The shortest route according to google maps is via a place called Riandira but me being me I decide I know better than Google so we head all the way to Sagana town, head west towards Murang’a town and branch south after crossing Sagana River. There are signposts showing the directions at every junction but none tells you the distance. Google decides to reroute though she seems angry that we’ve disregarded her immense knowledge. She is not in the least bit encouraging. Remember that saying about hell having less fury than a woman scorned; so true. You know the way she tells you, “take the next left and proceed for the next fourteen kilometers,” you just have to sigh and feel like you want to go back. Yeah, I felt that way especially since the road was rough and dusty, but wait until I saw these beautiful gorges which stole my breath away. I couldn’t have felt better in my entire life. The gorges are so beautiful and appealing to the eyes in their limestone like appearance. And just like that a memory is conjured back in my mind. There was a quarry in my village and growing up people used to buy building stones and aggregate from the said quarry. This memory is about those Leyland and Ford Lorries that would tip their bodies so as to empty their loads be it stones, aggregate or sand. The voice of their engines was very identifiable and no sooner did we hear it than all the children would helter-skelter in that direction to see the miracle/magic. I suppose you could call it a miracle in the village. Boy did we run faster than our legs could carry us which often led to tripping. There was no giving up though because this event would be like witnessing a shooting star and making a wish. I don’t know why none of us won a medal or why we never made it to the Olympics. It didn’t matter if we had witnessed the lorry’s acrobatics, we’d still want to see the next one and the next one. Sometimes if you were left in charge of cooking, the food would usually burn and this would only mean one thing. “Facing the music.” The immense joy on our faces as they tilted with the lorry is the same joy I felt when I took in this breathtaking view and copied it in the hard disk of my grey matter. This is a must visit place NB: Probably you are asking what a gorge is; a gorge is a steep-sided, narrow valley with a river or stream running along the bottom. Gorges are formed by the interplay of several geological processes, including erosion, tectonic processes such as vertical uplift and cavern collapse. Gorge meaning source: Sciencing.com.
Lying 0 54’55’’S and 36 27’25’’ E is a stratovolcano in the great rift valley of Kenya. It’s thought to have erupted last in the 1860s or there around and it derives its name from the Maasai word Oloonong’ot which means mountain of many spurs or steep ridges. It sure is steep just like its name but all the same awaiting your discovery. Its home to various animals such as zebras, gazelles and buffaloes. Hiking is not for the fainthearted. Sorry, I take that back. Hiking is not for the faint legged. You’d think that growing up on the slopes of the highest mountain in Kenya would adequately prepare me for such. Growing up on the slopes of the mountainous region during the era when piped water was no longer sustainable meant that one had to go down to the only source of fresh water i.e river Thagana. Since we were also school, it meant that the water fetching chores would be done in the evening. On arrival from school the routine was always the same; change clothes, look for the remnants of lunch and have your fill, then take a jerry can and ‘step in the name of life.’ I mean they say water is life or don’t they? These tasks didn’t seem that tedious since our muscles were well acquainted with the terrain. Right now ask me to carry a 20 litres Jerry can and… Don’t even go there.Further to toned muscles ‘duff mpararo’ (swimming) was so rejuvenating. no matter the time or weather we’d always spare a few minutes for swimming and by few minutes I mean swimming until darkness came calling. Never mind the punishment waiting for us back at home. Those were the good ol’ days. Some of the well-muscled girls could even carry two twenty liters jerry cans on their backs. You’d have thought that after going through all that that a hike up the mountain would be smooth sailing. Far be it, even with the help of a walking stick which proved quite beneficial especially during the descent, my muscles were not prepared for this. I almost did give up in the middle. At the beginning I was all ‘roho juu.’ You should have seen me and felt the rhythm of my heart. I thought I was gonna break the record of dear Jones who set a record of 1 hour, twenty minutes. The only reason I kept going was the hope of seeing the peak. Sorry, it’s not a peak,they call it a rim. I was not alone though; there was this lady whose boyfriend lied to her that there were ziplines up there and that ziplining would be our jet down. Despite all the challenges I made it to the rim and felt like humming Robert Kelly’s ‘I’m the world’s greatest.’ My face was glowing like I had been smeared with , ‘maguta ma mbariki’ aka castor oil. The days that followed were however worse than the hike. My muscles were sore which reminded me of a certain teacher who joined our high school when I was in form two. Her subject of specialty was double PE. My oh my did we suffer in her hands before our muscles finally became acquainted. She used to tell us, ‘your muscles are rotten.’ So yes I think my muscles have totally become rotten. They won’t hold me though. I plan on more hikes and more chronicles. Since I didn’t manage to go round the rim I’m planning on a redo. This time though I’ll be more than prepared. I’m praying that Wang’uru stadium is completed soon enough so that I can subject my muscles to thorough workout before the redo. Here are a few things you need in order to hike Mt Longonot. Crew/ Mbogi : energetic and jovial. Facilitator:@AuthenticFitnessAndAdventures can take you there in an overland truck. Water- they don’t allow plastic bottles due to littering, so carry enough in a recyclable bottle. Walking stick- you can hire one at the gate at KES 50 only. Don’t do it like you are competing- stick to your own pace.