By Chebet Candy.
The Valley of the devil, the elephant mountain, Mt. Kipipiri; sounds mysterious, right? Why those names? If only I could add emojis here to enunciate my excitement about the experience I am going to relay to you. Just imagine me making small rapid jumps with excitement. You won’t imagine why those places were given those names. Anyway 6:30 in the AM and Kamotho and Eli the African Explorer Magazine’s Travel guides , pick us up in the Nairobi CBD. We leave the city and the busyness that comes with it behind. We watch as the sites gradually transition from more buildings to more trees and bushes. An exhilarating experience as it pushes the childhood memories of the countryside from the subconscious to the conscious mind and floods my mind with all the nostalgia it could master. I want to bottle up my excitement because I’m around new people but does my mind let me? Noooo. “Edu, what is this place? I want land here” “Oh, this?…” That’s how the conversations start. The African Explorer magazine’s Travel guides turn out to be so knowledgeable about these areas that I don’t notice the 3-hour ride that brings us to the foot of Mt. Kipipiri.
Sign in, stretch stretch and we are off to my first hikeever; well, the first real hike.
The guides know to never let themselves be swayed by our excitement; we’d never make it to a quarter the distance of the mountain. Well, they don’t tell us that but I see them choosing a winding terrain that avoids taking the direct and steep climb. That’s not to mean that the climb was not challenging. That, it was. 15 minutes into it and I start dragging my beautiful delicate city feet. “Madam, what’s going on?” A fit one asks me. I try to prove that I’m also fit but, that was a lie and a big mistake. I eventually step aside and let her pass. But her chest was also heaving as she struggled to control her breath.
The guides are considerate enough and have several resting points. After each rest, it feels like you just started climbing. Your body is back in the game. At some point we find that the shrubs had grown on the footpaths while we were away on lockdown. The guide knows this is an exciting activity and allows us to create our way through the bushes. Oh, you should have seen this. The ladies you know were not so delicate. They tore their way through those bushes while laughing like it was just another stroke of a make-up brush on their face. A breathtaking sight.
We get to our second resting point and we start seeing all the other mountains of the Aberdare Ranges. We spot the Elephant mountain and it explains the name. It takes the shape of the back of an elephant and even has the ear. We see how the mountains seem to be crossing each other but never touching. At this point, the weather gets cold. It is when we get to our 4th stop that it decides we are never leaving without rain. If you didn’t have a rain coat, the other choice was to dance in the rain, and some of us did dance.
We got to my favorite place, a valley within the mountain, not the Valley of the devil yet. This valley has wild trees with all the shades and tints of green. They look as though nature chiseled them to take after a certain design. I can’t really put a finger on what the design was, but it was a beautiful alignment without losing all the scruffiness of the wild. Now to the Valley of the devil; that one was truly intimidating; we couldn’t climb down to it. But the waterfall in it, that was the sight. Looked like a long white satin fabric rolled down from the heavens and allowed to drape through a valley of green and brown. A sight.
I could never compress all the experience in here. But I reached the peak of the mountain. Was I tired? Very. In fact it took me two days to completely recover. Left room just enough for me to go through my daily routine. But I was proud of challenging my previous limits and having fun while at it. And the peak, it is made of the stuff you only see in the books and magazines and in those beautiful extreme sports in nature. It gave me an appetite for more adventures in the wild. Being tired and happy meant that we had truly done what is supposed to be done on a hike. I can officially declare myself a sportsperson and my sport of choice is hiking. (Flexes my non-existent bicep).