Mount Kenya Trek: A Porter's Diary on Sirimon - Chogoria Traverse (Day 4 & 5)
by stanley gichohi
Earlier articles in this series:
- Mount Kenya Trek: A Porter's Diary on Sirimon - Chogoria Traverse (Day 1)
- Mount Kenya Trek: A Porter's Diary on Sirimon - Chogoria Traverse (Day 2)
- Mount Kenya Trek: A Porter's Diary on Sirimon - Chogoria Traverse (Day 3)
DAY 4: SHIPTON'S CAMP – MERU MT KENYA BANDAS LODGE
The cracking of the beds in our bunker interrupts my peaceful sleep and with a hazy feeling I can hear our team cook talking in whispers with the guide. All this seems like a dream but I soon realize that it's already two in the morning and the climbers are already up for a cup of tea before they head out for the point lenana summit attempt.
As their conversation continues, I slowly drift back to sleep and the next thing I know, my colleagues are pulling away my sleeping bag as it's already 6 AM. It's time to hit the trail!
Everything is done pretty fast and I soon find myself outside braving the freezing morning. By now I figure that the climbers are almost making it to the summit.
From Shipton's camp we head west for abut a hundred meters before starting on our steep ascent to the top of Simba col – a place that porters once claimed to have seen a lion! Thus it's name simba (Lion). This is the last tough gradient that we tackle and I do it with a lot of zeal knowing that from here it's now down hill all the way.
Sun rise gets us at the top of simba col making me know that we are on schedule. I dash down the Chogoria route looking back to the summit to see whether the climbers are visible. Within an hour we arrive at the minto's hut and immediately start to prepare breakfast for the climbers. We expect them here by nine o'clock
As we do the final touches on breakfast, the climbers stream in... Walking wounded! And from the look of their eyes, I bet that some have been crying up there. It's quite normal and they do it often.
Meantime, we give them time to cool off as we leisurely set their breakfast. Eventually they recover and start to devour their breakfast as we prepare ours. It's going to be a long day and as usual, eat as much as I can.
Once climbers are through with breakfast, I pick what belongs to me and it's a great down hill trek to the Road head where we serve lunch. This section gives my knees quite a beating though I make it to the road head before one o'clock.
A 10 minutes break is all that's needed for lunch preparations to kick off. We get down to business and within the next hour everything is ready by which time, the climbers come cruising down arriving slightly past two PM.
Judging by the way they are eating, it's evident that the down hill cruise really whetted their appetite.
By now the clouds are making funny formations giving a rain scare. This make everyone speed up on what they're doing and finally make our last trek to our next home. The Bandas Lodge.
As we blast through the parklands, I can see climbers and the guide far back hot on their heels to make it to Bandas before the rains come down. Finally we hit camp an hour + clear of the climbers at a few minutes past four P.M
We pick one of the Banda and set ourselves up. So far everyone is edgy due to hunger and we hurriedly get down to some tea and bread crumbs. With some scramble, I get my share. While scrambling we don't take it personally!
My duty today is to make dough as dinner will comprise of the all popular African Chapati. I do it with a lot of zeal hoping that the smarter I work the higher the returns will be.
Everything is ready and we hand over to our cook to give his magic touch. I hover around this guy giving a hand now and then knowing that eventually he will avails me a chance to exercise my taste buds.
As cooking progresses, I'm busy with firewood making some log fire for the climbers to warm themselves. Soon some are enjoying a cold beer by the fire place. By 7 P.M dinner is ready and served. Meantime the other porters take turns to prepare our last dinner. I'm out of duty now as I gave our cook a hand in the earlier session.
As our food cooks quietly over the stove, stories touching on different topics arise, the content of which can only be disclosed with porters' permission. Believe me, it's Tabloid stuff!
I don't even realize that time is passing until it's confirmed that our dinner is actually ready. I take as much as my stomach can hold as Bandas Lodge at night is very cold.
After dinner, we head to our bunker taking care not to run into the Buffaloes that roam hear at night. It's a cold night as usual but I drift to sleep anyway knowing that tomorrow I sleep on a proper bed after a hot shower at home.
DAY 5: BANDAS LODGE – CHOGORIA TOWN – NANYUKI for Porters
As I make a turn on the hard surface, I realize that everyone else is up and folding their belongings, I hasten myself and soon we all head to the kitchen to make the final breakfast.
By the time we enter the Banda's kitchen the climbers are still asleep. We are quick with breakfast as not much energy is required today. Within a short while, everything is set at the tables.
As we wonder on the best way to wake them up, I start singing in whistles to catch their attention, luckily my trick works! And they come streaming to the dinning.
We serve them breakfast and get down preparing ours too. Several cups of Tea will suffice for us. We are going home anyway!
Our spirit is buoyant as we mount our luggage for the final stretch. By 8 A.M we hit the road. Today we do just ten Kilometers down chogoria route via the bamboo forest to where a four wheel drive picks us up.
In two hours time every body is at the ten kilometer mark and climb to the waiting vehicle. Driving down the forest, I cannot help wondering when the next trip will be. But before then I've a smelly back to take care of. On the wrap-up I chat up the climbers as we enjoy the ride out.
By the way we converse, I can tell that they are happy and satisfied with our service. After all, mountaineering is no easy undertaking.
Finally we are signing out at the chogoria park gate and a twenty minutes drive takes us to chogoria town where we all unwind as we enjoy some refreshments after which tips are dished out.
We bid them goodbye as they proceed to Nairobi and we head back to Nanyuki.
My best wishes as you plan your trek up Mount Kenya.
You too can do it!
Earlier articles in this series: