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Mt. Kenya Day 2- Hormones got interrupted

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” Jack Kerouac

Route: Chogoria Special Campsite- Minto’s Campsite

When: 22nd December 2021

Distance: 12.11km

Duration: 7hours 56min

Altitude: 4,200mASL

Elevation gain: 1,298m

We interrupt this programme to bring you PERIODS, sorry AUNT FLO the CRIMSON WAVE. Out of nowhere, uninvited but planned for, not expected, I felt what felt like cramps. To be on the safe side, I had my sanitary towels with me. All the hiking books written by women I’ve read so far, never mention their menstrual cycle while at the mountains. To date I’ve always questioned that thought. Why?

What you don’t know or know is that altitude will mess you up. I wasn’t expecting my periods till Christmas day (but we all know of the +/- 3 days rule) neither was my friend expecting hers till after Christmas. Our periods literally told us “hold your pads.” A few weeks to the expedition, we talked about Code Red, our fears, what to do since there are no bathrooms etcetera. Even our hiker man reminded us to not forget packing them.

For starters I had wet wipes that were not scented and alcohol free. That way using them down south was not an issue. Furthermore, used sanitary towels were not disposed until we descended the mountain (carry a trash bag). Moreover, ever realized as you (woman) hike your periods don’t flow? You don’t feel it.

Back to normal programming.

Breakfast in the woods was what caught our eyes when we were done refreshing (brushing our teeth, using wet wipes to clean our body and changing attire). An array of yumminess made my worms celebrate to the taste of fruits, bread, sausages, crepes pancakes, eggs, fried sweet potatoes and arrowroots not forgetting the joy of porridge. Packed lunch was handed that entailed an apple, banana, Delmonte juice, boiled egg, piece of chicken and sandwich. You guy, my guy! Chef Francis was that guy.

We had a long journey ahead of us but what I loved about Chogoria route is that the pathway is one, all the way straight, no diversions though rocky. The only diversions made are to see Nithi Falls, Lake Ellis and Lake Michaelson. I insist, Mt. Kenya Lake Tours should be on your bucket list because honey, diversions for who? Unless your package entails all these and summiting well and good. If not, don’t stress about it.

At Roadhead Campsite, we got to use the last of the latrines. For the rest of the journey, blessing the bush was a common phenomenon. Nithi river was crossed as its deafening waterfall could he heard a few meters away. The journey up was beautified by wild flowers, berries, beetles that rolled up dung and rock hyraxes that wailed and squeaked to our amusement. 5 hours in, Lake Ellis made an appearance while Vivienne falls snaked its way down at 457m. Surprisingly, Vivienne falls are named after a British writer Vivienne Florence Beatrice de Watteville.  Our porters and guides misinformed us that she died while at the mountain thus the name but Google will let you know she died of cancer at England. Furthermore, her family was notorious for hunting the big game and bagging trophies. Vivienne flows out from Lake Michaelson and is the 5th tallest waterfall in Africa, such a treasure. Lake Michaelson tried to be seen as it kept peeping amidst the fog that engulfed it. Gorges valley just took my breath away. When they say Chogoria route is the most scenic, believe them.

As we rested on a cliff overlooking Michaelson, Delamere and Macmillan peaks mocked us as the sun shone brightly over them. I have no idea why some of these peaks were named so or even the lakes. At this point one could spot the route to Shiptons Camp used by those on Sirimon route. Her majesty, all snowcapped gave us a frontal view to take in for the rest of the evening as we approached Minto’s camp.

There was indeed a kitchen structure far from our campground and a toilet. That ground was already occupied. Ours was a tent called the mess where we ate our dinner from. The menu of the night included a starter of butternut soup with a slice of bread. The main course meal was ugali, greens, peas and chicken meat. Later, we headed to our tents for the night. We had few hours of it.

PS: I got so excited seeing other porters, guides and mountaineers descend the mountain heading to Bandas. That moment to say hi, congratulations and them wishing us the best was magical.