A School Group Up Mount Kenya
As a Valeways walk leader, I have had the privilege and pleasure of leading coastal and countryside walks for the past 2 years. As there are no Living with Cancer Strollers or Carers Walk this month, due to the coronavirus, I thought I would share some of my adventures as a walk leader further afield….
As a young teacher in Kenya, I decided to take a school group up Mount Kenya. This is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second highest in Africa, after Kilimanjaro. There are 3 peaks on Mount Kenya and walkers head for the less technical trek to Point Lenana (4985m).
My school party consisted of 25 pupils and 10 teachers. We had guides to take us through the breath-taking scenery: tarns, glaciers, dense forest, a vertical bog and to point out the wildlife: including mongoose, hyrax (evolved from the elephant) and duiker. Fortunately, we didn’t spot the rarely seen giant forest hog or bongo!
There are various routes up the mountain and the climb takes 3 days. After acclimatising at Naro Moru, we spent the first night on the mountain at the met station. All was well. The next day we set off through forest and high-altitude equatorial vegetation to reach Mackinders Camp with the dramatic peaks of Batian and Nelion looking down on us. Tents were set up for us and the head of the school cooked a high energy pasta dish, which very few people ate. Altitude sickness had struck…not something that my walkers around Cosmeston or Barry Island have ever experienced!
Headaches and sickness took over a large number of the party so only a few emerged from their tents at 2am to head to the summit. Heading off at 2am meant the scree and the glacier at the peak were frozen and more easily walked on. After a long trek we reached the top and watched the sunrise.
On the descent, one pupil, slipped on the ice and started to head towards the tarn….luckily a guide stopped him. Not a sight that is easily forgotten. On reaching Mackinders Camp, where we had left a large group of sick individuals, we were greeted by happier and healthier pupils and teachers; the British army had arrived for a training session and had provided lots of hot tea and biscuits.
So …… at Cosmeston and over at Barry Island, if you join us when the social distancing finishes, you can feel confident that you are in safe hands….as long as there are no frozen tarms to fall into or great heights to be scaled….