Hiking the Elephant hill was everything I expected and more. Having never experienced mountains and hills above 3,000 M above sea level,I knew I was up for a challenge.
As days neared I felt like I wasn’t ready for the hike, I was scared too. Started thinking of an old knee injury, like I hadn’t trained enough.
The thing is,I had a rough idea of what I was getting myself into but wasn’t really sure I was ready for it.
I didn’t want to have an extreme surprise moment so I read several blogs and experiences in this particular expedition .Many called it the most difficult, some said they wouldn’t dare do it again, others felt it was ‘meh’ average I guess. Confusing, right?
Which category would I fall into? I had to find out for myself.
If you read my Day hike essentials post you know I tried my best to be ready for this.
On that Sunday morning, I woke up at around 3.00 am ,way too early, I had already lost my sleep. I started preparing and surprisingly,I got ready so fast unlike any other day of my life lol!
I was so excited for the plans ahead ,called a cab and I was at the CBD some minutes past 5.00 am.
We were hiking as a team and thanks to Elsie from Nutri fit delight I got to meet some really cool people. We got to Njambini forest (Abardare National Park) at around 8.00 am ,took some minutes for the team leader to sort everything with the KWS officials in charge, did some stretches with the help of Kate who’s an amazing yogi /trainer, and got assigned a guide ,Peter.
We walked for like 30 minutes, most of us already thirsty and hungry. So we sat down and indulged into our packed snacks feeling like we’ve already conquered quarter of the hike.
Peter the guide got confused with us for a moment and I remember his words ‘did you guys really come to hike ,why are you seated ,why are you eating? We have to get to the starting point ASAP , you are slacking already”.
Wait! What? Haven’t we already started, we just walked for like 30 minutes or more. So many questions running through our heads.
His expressions were priceless I could tell his faith in us was running low.Now that I am thinking of it I can sit comfortably and laugh at myself. Peter made the trail look so easy, his fit physique, combat boots and hydration pack he‘s like a trekking superman, that’s all he needed no extra clothing or snacks. After all he does this so often, he is used to it.
The hill was divided into a rough road, an ascending bamboo forest, ascending rocky terrain and the last part was so high up covered in beautiful vegetation.
The bamboo forest was the most challenging part for me ,we kept going up my chest became tight and I felt like I was running out of oxygen .I started thinking of how it wasn’t too late for me to quit, I couldn’t do it again. This place was getting steeper, I wished for a flat top where I’d stop for at least five minutes but there wasn’t. The first group left me behind, for a while I was in between alone; I could hear the voices from the last group quite distant from where I was. As I kept going it got cooler, then hotter even windy. Layering is very important for this particular hike, you just add or remove clothing you don’t need to balance temperature.
I continued sipping water, my chest now feeling better and used to the elevation. I swear I almost quit 50 times before this point. Peter came back for me and the rest who were far behind all psyched up,he talked me through a short distance giving me hope that the resting point was only some minutes away as he went for the rest.
I wouldn’t quit when I was almost there, would I? On my way I walked into some huge Elephant footprints that were so fascinating I totally forgot about the problems I had earlier. We took a break at the Desperado also known as the point of despair at 3255M above sea level.
I was so happy, all I cared for at this moment was to just sit and put my legs flat on the ground.Nothing could be compared to that kind of relief. By the way, I wouldn’t recommend sitting in between before the resting point, it’s a bad idea. Your body goes into some sort of shut down, try to keep going and sit only when it’s necessary.
Sometimes all you need is a little push and then you remember why you started
While at the Desperado I looked back and felt like a winner already, I had come so far, the quitting mood/mentality was already fading away. I took out my peanut butter, apples, water and started snacking.Peter gave us some more time to finish taking photos before we resumed hiking. I kept telling myself that I did not have to be the first person to finish as long as I get to the summit and back, no matter how long it took me.
As we got higher the scenery became more breathtaking, away from the trees we could clearly see through our trail and where we were headed.I felt so tiny with the huge hills standing all around us and beautiful vegetation welcomed us to the last bit of the hike.
It wasn’t so steep up there; nonetheless, we climbed up some rocks on all fours.We could also take short breaks to take photos and take in this surreal experience.
It was all worth it, I couldn’t believe for a moment I almost gave up. I would have missed the best part of it all. The summit was so close, some minutes later we were at 12,000ft above sea level (The summit).
I did it, I finished. My energy went up to 100% with excitement, I was jumping doing yoga poses, I couldn’t just calm down. I was my own hero, the best feeling ever.
After an hour the descend began, this time around I had all the energy Kate and I were the first to get down hill after hours of doubting our mental GPS and even planning on how we could just take the night into the bushes if we got lost for real, going down is always the hardest part but we did it anyway.
By the time we got down and to the parking lot it was already getting dark and colder thanks to Margie, the amazing lady who sells rosemary and ginger tea for being there. We enjoyed as we waited for the rest to arrive.
Things to note:
- The trip was organized by Elsie from Nutri Fit delight
- For the entire hike we payed Ksh 2,500per person
- (Inclusive of transport, park fee, guide, snack)
- Highest point at the Elephant hill is the summit standing at 12,000ft ASL
Have you ever been at the Elephant hill?
How was your experience?