Eight hours, eight counties and five stops later we were finally at Mount Olokwe. I couldn’t wait to experience the sunrise and those heavenly views for myself.
When we arrived we found everything set for us and in about 30 minutes we were on our way up. “It’s only about two or two and a half hours tops,” said the host. I foolishly took his word for it. 15 minutes into the ascent, we spotted a red spitting cobra. This is where the real adventure started. I should have taken that as my cue to go back down and spend the night in those semi luxury bandas at the camp and call it a weekend. But the adventurous spirit in me convinced me otherwise. Besides those don’t attack unless threatened.
We kept going, admiring the views, singing, telling stories. But at that point, the hike just seemed longer, we slowly grew quiet and more tired. The terrain got harder and steeper( obviously). Our guide, Oleitip was suddenly making more stops than we would have liked. It was getting darker, my body was threatening to call a strike on me while my mind was wondering how many more cobras we would come across. As I was still digesting this thought we did see another snake, this time a spotted bush snake – these are harmless. Honestly, who cares, a snake is a snake. My body took that opportunity to call the strike. My legs refused, darkness fell on us and it was almost 3 hours and I didn’t see a sign of a campsite. Oleitip, who hardly spoke any Swahili looked at us, sat down and said, ‘iko mbali sana’, as though to mean we should go back. Again I would have just turned back but at this point but it was easier to get to the top than go back. This is the where my Subaru husband just took my bag adding to already the other 30kgs he had been carrying and started walking. He really didn’t care about the guide. I think he should have done this earlier if you asked me. This somehow annoyed the guide. You could tell by how he whinned then increased his speed. He literally took off and at some point we hardly saw him. Then suddenly we heard funny animal noises – or so I thought. My only thought was I wouldn’t want to be dinner for some wild animal and thus my adrenaline took over. Those things my body was feeling paused and Kipchoge’s spirit took over. I just started running. I ran passing Oleitip who was waiting for us to catch up. ‘ Ni nini?’ he asked as he laughed. As I told him, he admitted he was the one making the noise. The Mr. had also tried telling me this but too late. Now I had to spend the last supposed two minutes thinking how I left him to be bait since that how far we were from the campsite (2 minutes of mountain timing, technically making it 20 minutes of normal time it can also stretch to 30 or an hour depending on your pace).
At that point it really didn’t matter. I was just grateful to be alive. The voilà, a campsite! I wondered why it had so many cattle. Like I said it really didn’t matter. We would send the night in a manyaytta with a family. This was too cool. Then my parade was short lived when the guide introduced his nephews who were kind enough to help us out with the luggage. Yep, we had carried our own tent, sleeping gear, a change of clothes and dinner. They also brought with them fresh milk to make us tea.
So wait that’s not where we would spend the night. My body threatened to resume the strike again. Would you blame it though? After what felt like eons, we suddenly stopped, ‘Ni hapa, sisi lala hapa,’ the guide enthusiastically said. Wow here in the middle of nowhere, was all I was thinking. I know right, did I expect a luxury suite up there … maybe I did. As we settled in; our tent was pitched, tea made and super served. The fresh milk made all the difference. While we were having dinner at the fire. Oleitip told us that his nephews were morans and had to take care of the cattle while they camped on their own up there. These guys were young like 10 years young and the other maybe 15years old. The look on my face made him reassure me that was nothing. He went further to explain how at that age his family’s goats we attacked and he had to fight off a leopard single handedly. Ooh yah, he has the victory marks to show for it. That also explained why his hand was giving him problems earlier and the number of stops. His hand has never completely healed and from time to time it acts up.
In the morning we woke up to watch the sunrise. I must say that it’s the most beautiful sunrise yet. The view beyond it was a perfect compliment. The hills, the road that ran across them overlooking the valley then different shades of green hills on the other side and boom, there stood the majestic sun. The colours on the sky were extra. God does know how to showcase His art. My world stopped and paused for a few minutes. No photo that we took or that I have seen of the sunrise up there will ever do justice.
This is simply why we climb!