Mount Kenya Trek: A Porter's Diary on Sirimon - Chogoria Traverse (Day 1)
by stanley gichohi
DAY 1: NANYUKI – SIRIMON PARK GATE – OLD MOSES CAMP
Today, the dark rainy clouds continue to hang around Nanyuki town making me wonder why I promised Evans our lead guide on Mt Kenya to include me on his Porters team that will accompany him and a group of Five Trekkers for a 5 day Mt Kenya trek via the Sirimon – Chogoria route.
It's apparent to me now that the mountain isn't going to be short of rain any time soon.
But before I ponder this thought further, Evans calls me to inform me that they're now crossing the Equator which is just a few minutes drive to where we are waiting for them.
On their arrival, I am already in the company of the team's cook and the other porters all of who reside in this base climbing town of Nanyuki.
As we gather outside the parking lot of the Marina Restaurant, where they normally have their lunch, a safari van honks behind us and on turning, it's Evans and the climbers.
They disembark from the vehicle and introductions are quickly made. For now all I can hear around the parking lot are the words "Pleased to meet you, pleased to meet you".
I can clearly see excitement written all over their faces.
Evans leads them to the restaurant to brief them and organize for their lunch. He soon emerges and we all share our duties as who is to get what. Shortly, we all scatter in different directions and to regroup at this very point after an hour.
I head out to the market to get all the fresh farm produce. I have the list at heart and I sing it out as I do my rounds in the market. Eventually my basket is packed to the brim with our requirements for the 5 days.
Time is now slipping away fast and my hunger pains are at it again. I know it's going to be a tough afternoon so I have to eat all I can lay my mouth on. On my feet, and with all my shopping strapped to my back, my quick tough jaw does it again for me! Luckily I make it back to the parking lot on time.
The parking lot is in a bit of a pandemonium now as everyone is busy consolidating their stuff and check listing everything. Eventually everything is packed into the vehicle for the last drive to the sirimon park gate.
It's already heading past One thirty and Evans dashes to check whether they are done with lunch. He emerges shortly with them and shows them to the vehicle. They climb enthusiastically knowing that very soon they will begin their dream trek on Mount Kenya.
As we speed towards the mountain, their anticipation is unmistakable! And within 45 minutes we are right in front of the Sirimon park gate.
We all climb down the vehicle and unload everything with speed.
As Evans clears with the park gate, we are busy sharing out the luggage, an exercise that I must admit is done with its share of complaints.
Eventually, I end up with a 35 Lbs luggage even after having played all my tricks! .....this job is not for the faint hearted!
Before long Evans and the climbers disappear into the forest with their day packs strapped to their backs. No worries as we will definitely catch up and overtake them soon.
I mount up my back pack and blast off the gate with the other porters hot on heels towards the forest. As a matter of fact, there is little comfort in knowing that we won't be anywhere near home until after 3 grueling hours.
For us the catch is to hit camp long enough before the climbers, a task we've religiously accomplished over the years.
We push our way up the forest blasting past the bamboo and passing our guide and the trekkers on the way.
As we hit the higher elevations, conversation amongst us dies out as tackling the steep gradients is energy sapping. Every iota of energy here counts.
Unrelenting in our push, we tackle every successive hill sweating like pigs till we approach the home stretch. As we emerge from the sharp climb and negotiate a corner, it's a big sigh of relief as we sight the roof of the Old Moses Camp. This rekindles conversation between us as our new found energy pushes us up the last hill to the camp getting there on time.
We quickly change our sweat drenched garments and gather in the kitchen to prepare hot water for the climbers to make drinks once they arrive. We then settle for a cup of black tea before plans for dinner gets underway.
We are really grateful to the mountain Gods as we didn't taste the rains today……the mountain can be very unforgiving sometimes.
From the camp, we check out the trail below from time to time to see whether Evans and the climbers are approaching. As they eventually approach, we set the drinks on the dinning table awaiting them.
We immediately start preparing dinner as it's our practice to serve it at 6.30 P.M. After serving dinner we prepare our own food and go to bed early knowing that today was just but a child's play compared to what we face tomorrow.
See you tomorrow when we embark on our 2nd day!
Read more articles in this series: