Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Kenya.

June 7: Mount Longonot

Posted in Kenya on June 9, 2009

We all load into the van and Holly squats on the floor, as Rocky and Mwaniki decide to join our hike up Mount Longonot. The mountain is only 17km from our hotel and we have a perfect view of it every morning when we walk
to Ngaya.

Longonot is actually in inactive volcano that is 400,000 years old, so part of the hike involves walking along the rim of the crater. According to Lonely Planet, it takes about an hour to trek up the mountain and another three hours to walk around the circumference. In total, it's a 6-hour trek. From the base of the mountain, it doesn't actually look that steep. But as we begin to walk, the incline increases and it's not before long that my thighs begin to burn. It doesn't help that the sun is beating down on us, sand is blowing in our face, and our feet keep slipping on the rocky gravel.

Holly and I take regular breaks - we blame our loss of breath on the 'altitude,' but we both know that we probably just need more cardio training. Stil, each break is an opportunity to take in the view and I'm blown away every time I look up and around.
After 45 minutes, we make it to the top, where Melissa, Kerwin, Heidi and Rocky are already sitting and taking in the view. We can see all of Lake Naivasha, as well as the rolling plains of the Rift Valley. We wait for the others before starting our trek around the mountain.

I start out thinking that the hike along the rim will be easier, but it's not The path is narrow and uneven, and it's a little nerve wracking to look left or right. On one side, we see the depths of the hollow volcano and on the other side, we're facing the edge of the cliff. Anisha and Quentin have a fear of heights, so they mainly stare down at their shoes.
Even as we walk along the rim it's still a steep uphill climb and the terrain is more rocky and challenging to climb than the mountain itself.

I slip and slide a number of times, and at one point, I'm gripping onto rock with my hands and feet. It's like walking through a canyon and you can see the path where lava once flowed. In 40 minutes, I reach the highest point, and we all break there for lunch. Melissa meets a local Kenyan who does this trek every Sunday. I can't imagine having the stamina to ake this a weekly routine.

After making it around the mountain in an hour, we start making the descent back down. Our feet slip against the sand, but by this point, we're used to squatting on our bums and simply sliding down the mountain. At points, the momentum forces us to run down - wind and sand whipping at our face.
We all make it down in one piece and are filled with a huge sense of accomplishment. In the end, we climbed 2776 km up the mountain and another 7km around the rim, totaling an 11km trek. I feel like we've all become physically stronger over the past month too, because it wasn't even that bad.

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