Ever gone through your memories of when you were 5 to 10 years of age? (If not, just take 3 minutes off the blog post and try figure out what you were up to back then, then come back). What did you remember? (Comment about it after the post). Those in the city during the 80s were busy watching G-Force Guardians of space and the real Alvin and the chipmunks before Theodore became adorable, born 90s eyes were glued on the famous Tausi and telly tubbies programs and those born from 2000 are busy watching Moana and zootopia. For the village kids, we were probably busy fetching water for the house after school and in the forests grazing over the weekends. Some of us only took a full shower on Saturday evenings in preparation for church the next morning. For Shaneez, a 10-year-old beautiful girl she will have a different story by the time she is our age. This young lady is busy in class and during the weekends she is out for adventures. Hiking and camping. Can hear most of you repeat the Kenyan proverb “bora uhai Yvonne”. Keep consoling yourselves (laughing). Back then I was busy grazing in the Aberdares forest, the same forest I pay money to go hike in today. Body goals right there! Honestly, she challenged me over the weekend when we left Nairobi for the feared Elephant hills. Did she summit? Find out in a few.
About Elephant Hills
Location: Njabini forest
Start point: Njabini forest station
Finish point: Njabini forest station
Time to finish:7-9 hours
Altitude: 3700m above sea level
Views: Sasumua dam, Mt.Kinangop, and Ndakaini dam
Terrain: Dirty flat terrain, swampy moorland/bamboo forest, rocky forest
Just before the hike officially kicked off, I run towards the washrooms where I found a young man folding up tents on one of the grounds. I inquired and learned that you can go camp a day earlier at a very small fee of Ksh 1000 per person per night to make it early to the mountain the next morning. He told me of a group that had left this camping site early that morning at 3.00 Am to summit both the Elephant hills and Mt. Kinangop. I finished up with him and embarked for the hike.
At first, I was leading with one lady and a guide only to be left behind after 20 or so minutes. You see a hike is not just a walk to finish but it’s the body feel, the nature trails and every single thing around you. Have time to reflect on your life and communicate with nature.
The Elephant hill hike starts with a gently rising dirty road surrounded by potato farms, pine plantations and grazing grounds managed by the locals in partnership with the Kenya forestry service. We then arrived at the electric fence which demarcates the forest from the local’s settlements. We stop and wait for the rest to now start the real hike in the forest. The beauty of the forest comforts my heart and its pulpy smell is what I need in life. If this is just a forest, how cool was the garden of Eden? Did eve have to eat the fruit?
After an hour or two, we approach the brown Bamboo forest. The part where you either make it or break it. The bamboo trees seem ready to lend us a hand to hold on to till the end. Under the towering bamboo, canopy grows mushrooms, giant heather and tussock grass on the sides of the path. Trudging up the bamboo trees gets longer and every time I rest under one of them I felt watched by a special guardian angel. The mud makes it quite hard to climb but the sounds of scurrying squirrels and the thought of it turning into a dangerous animal keep you walking up.
After 4 or so hours come the rocky part which is our light at the end of the tunnel though not the summit. By now I want to give up but Kevin our host promises that we are almost there. I even think of faking sickness but I remember I have not paid for the AMREF rescue cover. My hands are numb and the head pains remind me to stay hydrated. Water and glucose intake should be high when embarking on a hike. Altitude too changes and I hope I don’t suffer from altitude sickness. At least not when we are about to summit. This part is quite rocky but you cannot miss spotting a few senacio plants and tassels of an old man’s beards hanging on some mossy boughs. After quite a climb we get to the despair point. The point where you get to decide if the altitude is okay for you to keep ascending or you might need to end it at that. I am now shaking of cold and Brent (our photographer) lends me one of his sweaters which I still haven’t returned. (Brent, give it time to dry up and thank you). At this point, you can’t help but stare at the Sasumua and Ndakaini dam views. Wow, now I must summit for better views. The higher you go the better views.
After snacking, we embark on our journey and in a few, we can see the summit peak. The joy of summit views gives more zeal to walk fast, and in 20 minutes we got to the elephant hills SUMMIT! Did we lose Shaneez on our way? Did she give up at some point and got rescued? NO! She summited probably an hour before us! Power and passion! Wow, the view even better! People, you should have been there. What was more amazing was the fire the “team turbo” who were speedy lit and the funny talks up there. We ate some of the junk we had and before I finished up my food someone commented “huyu mzungu anakula chapatti na red bull” and the guy next replied “huoni mgongo yake ni kama ya mkisii”. Jeez, how now? I laughed to a point of chocking. Kenyans got no chills! She understood Swahili and she couldn’t help but laugh at her back.
During the descend we enjoyed Njabini sunset and silhouette shots. The last team to descend encountered buffalos which prompted the guide to shoot out to scare them away. What I can’t seem to get over is the hazy view of Mt. Kinangop. CONGRATS SHANEEZ & THE TEAM See you next for Mt. kinangop.
Until then COMMENT, SHARE and let’s find out where the ocean meets the moon!