Entry #55: On the Top of a Mountain

Date: 10/14/2019
Time: 7:14am

I didn’t think I could do it, lol.

I think there comes a point where a lot of times you try to figure out if you can or can’t do something. It was around this time that we were an hour or two in to the hike. I was sweating like mad, with an incline that will make a Stairmaster look flat, this hike was just nuts.

I think what made it the most difficult is that I didn’t know what to expect, the hike just kept going.

When we were first waltzing through the beginning road of the trail, we got to see the mountain that we were climbing, My first thoughts were in admiration without any sense of me thinking that we were going to climb this mountain in about 30 min.

I would call myself a decent hiker, and back at home in Hawai’i, I was pretty used to the inclines and was familiar with traversing through mountain hikes like this. However, this was a totally different beast.

I remember our fellow host and Peace Corps Volunteer, Bill, had asked me if I had my inhaler for this one. Lying through my teeth, of course, I said yes, but in that moment too, that good old sinking feeling of “oh fuck” started to sink in about an hour after. I really wish I had my inhaler for this hike, haha.

It was definitely a time to be alive for this hike, but I’m sure that my mind during this hike wasn’t thinking of how much life I had, I was thinking about how close I was to death on this hike. After running out of water on our first major stop, and seeing as we didn’t have any other places to get water here.

Step after step, heave after heave, all I could think about in my head like a blazing mantra ingrained in my brain for survival: “I need water.” Somehow, I made the entire hike with only about 500mL of water, and a swig here and there from my friends. Never mind the 500mL vacuum-sealed flask, just give me a 2L plastic bottle.

Hour one turned to hour two, and with each climbing step I never got to look back and realize how far we’ve come. As high as the clouds, the sights were breathtaking.

Manale isn’t exactly a mountain. It’s a plateau that was formed by a volcano in the middle of nowhere in East Africa, which, after centuries of erosion of the volcanic, rocky leftovers, what remained was not a sloping mountain of a natural form, it was this plateau. As if the Earth had wanted to add a little bump protruding directly out of the ground 2,000ft high, fit for giants and titans of the world.

What’s more, is that this wasn’t a deserted mountain, people thrive in the mountains. People come here everyday to do their work, this isn’t a hike through the mountain in Mbale, this is a casual walk through their home grounds. The lands are abundantly cultivated, for both production and food security for home. The high altitude makes growing certain crops like onions and coffee provides for a unparalleled harvests as it would grow in lower elevations.

We had gone from sight to sight with our hiking guide showing us most of the major spots on this hike. Tree-line borders, waterfalls, a cave, and all. The grandeur and scale of this entire hike, it’s incomparable to any hike I’ve been on before. It’s a beast of its own.

My only regret is that I have with this hike is not that I didn’t bring enough water, and I definitely didn’t take enough pictures because my ass was getting beat by this hike haha.

The incline of this hike was far too steep for comfort, scaling up and down the plateau. With my pack bundled with snacks, my camera, and water, I was slipping and sliding like mad with my shoes, definitely not prepared to hike with these. Our tour guide? He simply had gum boots and a stick for the entire duration of the hike.

With the image of only a simple 3-hour roundtrip hike up and down the mountain, the hike transformed in to a treacherous 7-hour trek. A monster that was worth taking on.

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