Off Grid: Gicheru Mines Hike

I did not have a phone – Wouldn’t have mattered anyway,  we were off-grid.  I did not have specs. No one had ever used that terrain apart from Josh. Literally going in blind. Completely Off grid.

Eve of Hike

I lost my phone. I couldn’t remember the apartment name of P. Used a strangers phone, goggled hikersafrique.com to get info.

Took cake for the first time in a long time – Not a sugar fan.  I can’t remember the pizza taste,  must have been hungry.  First time I liked a sandwich. Got served by someone I regard senior to me.

Learnt that P was also scared when I thought she wasn’t. That stereotype of her helped me through the treks and hikes so far. Looks like she was asking herself the same questions everyone who is in the challenging part of the hike or trek asks ” Who told me to come here? I should have been somewhere relaxing this Saturday. “

Slept at 11:30. Woke up at 2:00 then 3 then 4 then I never slept again until 5:40. Lots of castle building.  I was anxious. It was cold. Can’t remember if I bathed.

He was late… Again. Second time in a row. Who wakes up in the morning to upload a YouTube video and forgets about a hike that same morning? Too hard working for life.

I can’t remember what was so funny in this pic but there was always a joke during the warm-up and introduction.  That laugh is for ‘I am laughing because everyone is but I don’t necessarily find it funny’. I honestly love seeing happy faces.  Na hio hike ilkua na scientists wengi…both social and ‘real’ scientists.

” We are going down then up back the same route. So be aware that every down is am up later.” I guess he left a space for people who thought they wouldn’t manage the whole 18km. 

Hike

Up a little… Down (very steep)…then flat and my feet got arrested.  I was okay until I wasn’t. Those new shoes made me step in a different way and it was painful nearly a muscle cramp.

If I can’t walk with them on flat land comfortably – which is my strong suite – what will happen in this hike that was being referred as interesting by Josh of all people. I was turning to go back without notice then met the behind guide. I lied that I wanted to change my shoes and he looked dissapointed but encouraging me to get used to them.

I was not having it.  I waited for the first break to change them to my lighter sport shoes. Then asked Josh to let me know when the parts are hard to change back. Flat flat flat foresty… Woods… Bush… Bee-hive and Rock gliding – Nachu style…Cave 1: If only I knew the guys camping there would later be of help with loads of blankets,  I would have taken time to say Hi

.. because when they did,  I was voiceless,  speechless and a totally different person.  I still don’t know who I am now.  I am yet to learn this new-self. It’s my first time too meeting me.

This new me went from an attitude of ‘I need the rain to be cool again due to the heat’ to ‘drooling mucus‘. From ‘someone who was joking and laughing about releasing all my fluids when I get to a hard place’ to ‘remembering Mucus is also a fluid and going quiet’. I removed my clothes in front of people I didn’t know and squeezed off bowls of water. Waterproof boots didn’t matter anymore because I forgot my raincoat.  The only day I forgot is the day it pours. 

You know the way people run to get shelter when rain starts dropping? we couldn’t. We were climbing back to that spot not so far from the cave.  All the diatomite washed off our faces and clothes. Too clean to be from Gicheru mines. 

Going down using my boots was awesome!  Absolutely awesome.  Those rocks and slidy places especially when it rained did not like my boots. Great confidence boost. No peeing on myself, No crying, No cursing…  That’s the moment I appreciated those shoes. 

Going up? I got scratched deeply with a thorn after not seeing where I was going. I didn’t even look.  Even now,  I haven’t checked.  My lungs couldn’t get me enough oxygen.  I got to a point where I didn’t care if I would be left or not.  I just went one step at a time. I had no energy to hold conversations.  I was in my own world. Thanks to Kelvin, Pj and Caleb for waiting for me,  holding my hand and patience respectively. 

When the rain came we were nearly at the tip.  I was leading the few of us who were left behind to nowhere.  I couldn’t see where I was going.  The wind…thank God for weight.  We aimed for that mast and left the team carrying the guy who had muscle pull on both legs behind.

We got lost.  We were silent and more silent when the thunder was just too loud for anyone to afford a scream.  We never said a word or showed how scared we were when lightening hit.  When we got next to a telecommunications poster,  one said, “At least we are safe for now.” End of conversation.  Good talk!

Now under the angry downpour, we had no slightest idea where the cave we had seen earlier was.  We did not know how to get down that last hill.  Orientation gone!  The last guide was helping carrying this injured guy. Plus we were all there when we first got this hill, however, no one could remember.  They were too far behind to wait.  After a one-person conversation,  three of them left for the place that one person had suggested was the exit. 

I was left behind with the birthday girl, Faith, who had been celebrated twice : diatomised and waterised/stormed. We even dared to ask each other our names again after we saw the dreaded path.

For God’s sake it was raining and these women had the guts to hold conversation. To make it worse, we were discussing my blog. How about praying for men who would love us with our gapped teeth? (Again, why do women pray for husbands?) It was a moment of : ‘We are alone in this,  if we are going to die here, at least let’s know each other name ‘

Good thing I have memories: If I ever get children,  I will tell them about the non-harmonious music and non-synchronised drumming we had at the cave.  I will tell them about this modernized people praying and living in a cave even with a white carpet. The snacks we shared that contained things I don’t enjoy but loved to eat.  I will tell them about a woman pastor in green who prayed for Muscle-pulled legs then the rain stopped. 

I might forget the beautiful landscapes, the way my calves stopped hurting and my hips,  thighs,  ass starting aching. I will forget my transition to be a hiker.  I might even forget faces but I won’t forget that stormy moment. The fact that I am even talking about kids rattles me. Who is this?

Post-Hike

Of cause I was left by the bus the next morning. Had given my watch to One of the guides and forgotten about it.  Why I gave him,  No idea.  Disorientation. Walked for a while to stretch my new aching parts. Read two chapters in a technical book while having public transport. Had an awesome meeting with my supervisors. 

Trauma. Maybe it’s trauma that has changed. P is no longer there to make me ask myself “If a nearly 40 year old, nearly 8 months pregnant woman can do it, I can also do it.”

Would I wish to go through the same thing?  Sure?  Worse?  Bring it on.  These can also signs of trauma or maybe change of attitude. I am yet to know.

Curious me asked one of the Hikers Afrique management if people still come after such a challenging experience and he was like ” Plus size guys may sometimes quit,  that’s why we have created trails and program and grouped them to make them have the same experience but a lighter one.  The rest come back. It did not make sense to me. 

Why would you be back even after that? Why would pay again yet you were regretting not a while ago. Maybe it’s the views.  Maybe it’s the people.  Maybe it’s the thrill of a challenge.  Maybe ni kukosa form ya sato na hii Corona. Maybe it’s the chance to scream and make animal noises and be

Wonderful
Exciting
Interesting
Real
Different

This is the sad part though. They wanted to be nice, made a mistake and hired a local guide in the spirit of support local people. This guy was left to help some ladies secure a bike from a certain point and dude confidently comes before them, drunk,  shameless and looking stupid. Good part is this hike helped me learn something about my crush which made me not interested anymore. Life made simple!

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