5 Men, One Challenge ,The Nyandarua Traverse.By Adiey Joe
Whenever I am yet to take an adrenaline or crazy trip, sleep is elusive. It is one of the reasons I was extremely happy to suggest an early departure from Nairobi. I left the house at 0300hrs picked Riitho then Lance and connected with Dennis up the highway. By 0530hrs we were all at a restaurant , taking meat, Chapati and tea in Njabini. Rule number one for such an expedition is to never pass an opportunity for good food.
We got to the gate and connected with Muhia the last member of the adrenaline gang.
Muhia is one of the most experienced Hikers, climber and Ultra runner with a few seven thousand peak in the Himalayas under his belt. He was the second participant to accept into this foolish idea.
Riitho is a long standing Bucketlist follower with a remarkable hiking and climbing experience and definitely the one with the most reliable knowledge of the Aberdare National park as well as bush whacking and wilderness navigation.
Dennis Safaris is one of my colleagues from Savannah outdoor and an experienced mountain guide and tour leader.He decided to tag along a panga to save us from the thorns.
Hailing from Kinangop, we asked him what questions or submissions he had about the plan, however his only concern was whether there will be tea😂😂.
Lance or Daktari wa Mlima was a last minute slide and thankfully so, since Gitonga Wa Ndai from Hikemaniak was unable join us.Lance is an accomplished EMT and Wilderness guide ( a fact I came to learn 3 days later hauling a 1.5kg first aid kit when he had a better one😡😡).
Lance who is highly favored with great Swahili, ensured we had good food throughout the tour and earned the title master chef for this particular crazy adventure.
Next up was Philemon Kemboi one of the most experienced rangers in the Aberdares National Park personnel. Having done Kinangop with him many times, I had referred him to the team and he came strongly for another adventurous craze. He is always reliable to bring wilderness experience to the team in regards to navigation ,using line of sight and animal trails.
Joseph Wambugu is one of the guides from Table Mountain guides Club, a brainchild of the former Senior Warden Simon Gitau. We needed him on this tour to build local capacity for the trail in future and also help in bush whacking skills.
Last on the crew is myself Munyaka Njiru the convenor of this foolish idea and one whose role would turn out to be the official dissenting voice when deciding about routes 😂😂. And the headmaster of the trip when people ate food rations like it was the last day 😡.
At 0700hrs we were paying our park fees and sharing out the food rations and weighing our bags all ranging from 14kgs to 18kgs. At 0730hrs it was boots on ground. The team started on a high note and full of good spirits, on the team was Elizabeth doing the day hike and being a moderate hiker she offered us some needed pacing duties to the bamboo section.
On this day all the stops were taken with photos and rest from start point to Bamboo to despair. At despair the sun was out in its full glory and we would continue to experience great weather for the rest of the day.
At the elephant summit we left our bags at the Kinangop Junction and made our way for some photos. It was noon and the first day hikers caught up with us at the summit a sign that we were making great progress with time. Soon we were descending the steep section going down the Elephant summit to Kinangop. On this section I have the authority to say it has the most dramatic view in the Nyandarua ranges.
The slope is slippery and due to the recent rains , it was flanked by two small waterfalls on both sides.
The sliding and falling began and soon we hit the big towards Kinangop. I started having heavy feet and headaches and soon gas was the order of the day. I retreated to the rear of the trail for obvious reasons and resigned to be the weaklink 😂.
The 5kms stretch to Kinangop would be the most treacherous hike for me in a long time but I distracted myself with taking photos.
Soon we rounded the first false peak of Kinangop and 30mins later made it to Kinangop. Now Kinangop is mystical,mostly shrouded in mist past noon and has a scramble to die for. I was shaking out of altitude by the time we dropped our bags at the base of the outcrop that forms the kinangop summit.
Anyone with real fear of heights is unable to do this by the way and as such it’s quite something. However the sun came out in full glory just like Elephant hill and cheered us on. We were in luck. After a short stint at the summit and a hazy descent for me (altitude sickness) we decided it was too early to camp around there.
We descended towards Mutarakwa. There was suggestion to camp at the moorland with “network” but we overuled and decided to find a sheltered campsite used by the Mutarakwa guides. We went down comfortably but ended up at a different river.
A suggestion to go find it was met by vehement opposition and resignation that it was too late for that as it was pushing 6pm.
We got down to the business of preparing the site as the area was full of tussock grass.Soon we had some hot coffee, ready tents and dinner was on the way. We were excited to have gone ahead of schedule and everybody was looking forward to the next day. After telling stories of giants we all retired to bed and this would turn out to be a long one for me. In the middle of my Matt was a stump of sorts and I felt it was too late to make any changes. Second was that we pitched up on a slope hence the night was spent hanging on to dear ground like the squirrel in the ice age movie 😃😃. The story begins..