Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Day 4 Slogging...

"Good Morning, water," it was Buiat, with our basins of hot water to wash in. "Tea, chai."

"Asante sana, Buiat, we'll be there right away."

It is hard to describe the absolute pleasure of washing, even with such a little bit of water, soap and a clean bandana. I knew my cleanliness was shortlived, as the moment I struggled with the zippers of the inner and outer sanctum of my tent, I would have fresh dirt embedded under my nails and dust would make its inexorable way into my very soul, seemingly. But for a few moments I was blissfully happy, fresh and as clean as I could get.

Somehow I knew today was going to be tough, but not necessarily because of the terrain, but the distance we had to travel. The visualization of that distance, fresh in my mind from yesterday's hike, was like a weight that your mind grabbed onto and made it difficult to lift your dust heavy boots.

Our dusty and rock bitten boots:

Five dusty boots

As usual our group was not able to get it together and break camp particularly early. Today was the first day that I was anxious and a bit annoyed. Why is it so hard? I could not imagine trying to do this hike with a large group. We finally get going, the path is laid out ahead of us, plain to see, a bushy, dusty and rocky trail. It is nice in a way, because for once I do not feel like I am impeding the progress of the porters as they overtake us, this time there is lots of room for them and us too.

Porters passing us on the way to Moir Camp

PB and I walk together, the resting step is our friend, I could keep it up forever. We are far behind Simon and the rest of the group, but we liked it that way, it was frustrating to stop all the time and this way, walking slowly together, we were able to keep the steady pace going.

Between Shira and Moir

Giant Lobelia becomes a common sight, unfortunately it is not the season for it to flower. It is strange and looks out of place in its surroundings.

Giant Lobelia

I enjoyed the chance to let the rugged beauty of the mountain path soak into my memory. The path slowly becomes more difficult, rocky with big steps up and over outcroppings. Not being a very tall person this presents more of a challenge to me than some.It truly is breathtaking, the mountain looms closer, it is so big and wide that the sheer size makes the height seem less. An illusion.

Lunch, finally, a welcome respite. Sitting in the dining tent, sipping tea heavy with sugar, tiredness falls away. The soup is fabulous, as usual. Yeah Soup! A new dish is served to us, deep fried bread, well more like dough. It is very tasty, but I can only eat one piece, it is very fatty. We also have corn fritters and banana fritters, both very delicious, but again deep fried.

As we pack up and head out, I notice that my water is not as depleted as it probably should be, I wonder... is my pee clear? I always forget to look. Sheesh! Either way I take big drink and tell myself to remember to stop and drink more.

After lunch the path is very interesting, the plant life keeps changing, becomes more alpine, we are leaving the moorland behind. We slowly head down the fold in the mountain's side, making our way to the end of the canyon. The rocks begin to climb around our heads. We are in a progressively deeper canyon, little streams and distant caves that porter used to sleep in, but they are too dangerous now. The other side stretches further and further away. The rock walls are layered with a salty film, we are told that elephants sometimes find their way here from Kenya for the salt. At camp there is an elephant's skull that was found on the way to Moir and the porters brought to the camp, where it was apparently heading.

rock wall near Moir Camp

Looking back towards Shira Plateau:

Looking back

Finally from a distance we spot our camp, unmistakable bright yellow tents. And not far from our tents is what looks like a large wooden tepee, Urio tells me that we can explore there tomorrow. The sun is starting to go down as we head into Moir Camp, it is getting chilly. This is our second rest/acclimatization day. I am looking forward to a short hike and exploring tomorrow. The porters sing to us again, we sing back, they are surprised, but pleased. "They didn't know wuzungu could sing" we are told by one of our guides.

Our Porters sing to us, even though it is cold and getting late. In the background you can see the "tepee":

The sun goes down quickly in this part of the world, we are at approximately 13,600 feet and I have never seen such brilliant stars before, it is indescribable up here. I am in awe.

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