Whenever we set out on a hike I always go through certain thoughts in my head like whether I’m ready to tackle the challenge ahead or not. To be completely honest I’m initially tempted to just turn around and go back home, cozy up in my couch and binge on series; as opposed to subjecting myself to painful, long trudges, often in harsh terrain and weather.
Then I meet the hiking crew and I see their eagerness to get the hike done. To mark it off their lists and wear that badge of honor with pride. I think of missing out on the funny and often crazy chatter that will take place en-route and I can’t imagine missing out. FOMO in its purest form ladies and gents forms part of my motivation. However, other than missing the chatter there’s nothing so far that compares to the sense of achievement I get whenever I summit and cross off one hike after the other. There’s nothing so far that replaces the therapeutic essence of nature; and like a moth to a flame I keep going one hike after the other.
This was the same script that played in my head as we prepared to set off towards Elementaita to hike the Sleeping Warrior and Ugali hikes in June. The journey begun on a laid back Saturday morning at my former gym, the Greenvale restaurant along Kamiti road, Nairobi. The crew, as is customary, always meets here for breakfast, headcount and debriefing. The event organizers who also happen to be fitness coaches tend to plan these hikes at least 3 times in a year to test our overall fitness and endurance.
Once breakfast was done we headed out at about 7am and proceeded towards Elementaita, a drive that took about 2 hours. We picked up our armed escorts for the day at their base and headed out to the trail’s starting point. Senior Sgt. Abdi and his team, from the Kenya Wildlife Services, took us through a brief lecture on what to expect on the trail including how to duck and lie flat on the ground in the event we came across buffaloes.
The hike officially started at 9am along the shore lines of Lake Elementaita, which is adorned by an array of flamingos. It is also very common to spot locals taking baths at the lake’s hot springs as they are believed to have medicinal value. The route thereafter meanders through thickets and scrub land that finally unveil the Sleeping Warrior.
Sleeping warrior has got to be my most surreal hill to encounter so far; and not in terms of it being a breeze to hike through – which is false – but the sure magnificent work of nature that it is. Sleeping Warrior resembles a person lying down on their back with their face towards the sky. One of the local Maasai herdsman when asked about the hill told us that they believe the hill is a famous Oloibon (Maasai warrior) that passed on many years ago, forever entombed in nature.
At the base of the hill the group split into two. Those who didn’t feel comfortable embarking on the steep ascent decided to go round the trail on fairly level ground while the rest of us embarked on the steep trail. This particular terrain was very reminiscent to my William hill hike years back. The dry hot air, dusty and thorny foliage with non-existent tree cover made me feel like throwing in the towel. I soldiered on despite feeling a bit nauseous and in about an hour we made it to the peak of the Sleeping Warrior.
The summit offers amazing views of Lake Elementeita, the Eburru Hills, the Gilgil Hills and the Mau Ranges and of course Ugali hill the next challenge of the day. After a quick lunch break we headed towards the Warrior’s head and west towards Ugali Hill.
Going over Ugali hill was the most challenging part of the hike. The trail kept going and going with the end nowhere in sight. It took us about 4 good hours to go over that hill; a very exhausting experience. Every so often we’d have to keep looking back to visualize the distance covered so far from Sleeping Warrior to where we were for encouragement. Slowly by slowly we walked through the thorny and dusty trail and finally made it to the peak. The journey back down was uneventful but I like that it wasn’t as torturous as the 2 summits we had just done.
At the end of the day the journey was tough but the appreciation for nature and the sense of accomplishment made it all worth it.
Until the next hike adios!