The night before 22nd May, a group was created for the Longonot Double Challenge Hike as is the norm with every hike. At 1930 hours our hike organizer, Mr Charles Mundia, insisted on time, with a dash of a clear but very strict implication on time. The message intimidated the lot of us that some of us barely slept just saw they couldn’t be late in the morning.
The meeting time was 5:20 am….some of us kept time but of course with Kenyans…the concept of keeping time can be a little hazy for some. Luckily, we left Bubbles Restaurant at Thika in good time and were at Longonot park by 8 am.
At the gate, we were to converge with the Olkalau hiking group to total up to 17 hikers. The plan was to hike the mountain and go round the crater twice then converge back at the gate by 2pm so we could break for lunch in good time.
Anyone who knows Charles Mundia, knows that he is a man of order and effeciency. For him, the delegated time is the final time. A small meeting before the ascend and everyone was asked to keep the 2pm time. Hence, anyone who wanted to do the double challenge needed to make sure that they did so in good time. Luckily, not everyone was limited by the double challenge. It was paramount that everyone hike at their own pace.
As for me and a few others, we intended to just one round. The thing about hiking with Bubbles and Olkalau Hikers, especially when you are young, is the positive intimidation these groups evoke in you.
I like that everyone is included in the group. That day we had hikers aged 64, 55, 53…and youth too. In this group, its the grey-haired men and women who rule the trail. When the young fellas are struggling to breathe while ascending, these fine-aged chaps Cruise through the mountains like they eat, sleep, and breath the mountain.
It’s a good thing because you’re challenged and encouraged at the same time. Challenged that these fellows are way older than you but way fitter than You’ve ever been in your short life. Encouraged because if they can be this healthy and this fit, why shouldn’t you? It’s a fine line really. Guys like Charles, Josiah, Wanyoike, and Mugure were pretty much running that mountain while the rest of us slowly caught our breath in between climbs. Luckily, the weather was kind to us. It would have been more daunting if the sun was scorching everything standing beneath it.
With the organization and maturity you get from such groups you will always leave the hike a little wiser and seasoned than before. A little ashamed that while you struggle to finish your first round, a 63-year old Mr Wanyoike will comfortably pass you by on his second round. But there is comfort in knowing that some day that could be you!
Most people managed the two rounds, with an exception of three(me, Shivo, and Emma) who intentionally planned to do the one round. Good thing, the three of us hiked close to each other. None of us knew the other when we started but by the time we got to the summit, we not strangers anymore. We shared stories of some of the trials we’ve taken, the experiences, the challenges, and the take home lessons. For some, before 2pm had finished the hike and waiting for the rest of the group to come back.
We were five in the Thika Team and all us had finished the hike and back waiting at the car. The 1k charge was inclusive of water and lunch. Due to time, we decided to head on back and have lunch at Bubbles. While we would have very much wanted to wait for the Olkalau team it was decided that Charles refund their lunch money so we could head back.
The aftermath is always the icing on the cake. The grueling stories of the terrain, weather, and the hike in general is what makes the muscle pains worth it. Though we were all famished on the ride back, the stories kept us engaged. The laughter is what makes everything worth it.
We got to Bubbles in good time for a hefty lunch. A meal shared amongst hikers is always a meal shared amongst family. After the meal, we shared exciting stories over a few drinks before calling it a night. We talked of traditional beliefs, place of men and women in the society, among other important conversations but with a slight touch of simplicity.
With more than 70% of the team acing the challenge, there is a possibility of a three-round challenge in the future and I don’t see why we shouldn’t all go back. However, the trick to a successful three round summit would be to have a very early start. This will help avoid crowds and do it while the sun isn’t scorching.
Hiking is the answer. Who cares what the question is.