June 13, 1987

6/13/87 Mt Kenya

near Urumandi Hut

Last night, after a quick lesson on setting up the tents and building latrines, we went to bed. We had traveled over five hours. Peter, whose Kikuyu name was Mbougwa, talked with me about the differences between the people living near the mountain. Mbougwa said you could tell a lot by how the women carried their loads. Kikuyu women used a sling over the forehead to carry a heavy load, but that Moro women used a crossing pattern across their chest.

Our first camp was an old lake bed that was a bog.

We also talked about traditions, especially what it takes to get married in Kenya. In the Kikuyu, to buy a bride used to cost about five cows, thirty sheep and another thirty goats. But now costs about 80,000 shillings ($5000). Mbougwa said that many men just get the girls pregnant and then it only costs about 750 shillings because the parents want the child to have a father.

After a good nights sleep, we broke camp early to make another assault on the mountain access road. Our first meal for breakfast was macaroni and cheese, a tradition Lisa tells us. We loaded up the land rovers and set off. We did make another five or six kilometers before the truck with our gear got stuck again. After unloading it, we started to hike the last three or four kilometers on foot.

Sat in silence with the sun seeping through the canopy

I was a Boy Scout for a long time but I don’t remember ever carrying a sixty pound pack. We split up into three groups and while the others started up, we did some exploring of the surrounding bamboo forest. The meadow we had camped in last night was in a dense forest that surrounds the mountain. But as you move up in elevation, the trees thin out and the bamboo begins to dominate. We just walked a ways into the bamboo, following paths made in the thick growth by elephants. You could find their scat (shit) everywhere. We sat down and just listened to the sound of the forest.

I don't think anyone appreciated the quiet sounds

It took us about an hour and a half to make it to our second campsite. The forest here only has large trees covered with moss and lichen. The walk was very steep. To give you an idea, Nairobi is at 5000’, Naro Moru is at 7000’, and our present camp is about at 9000’.

We had lessons on minimum impact camp site selection and again another on latrines. Quiz: How many times does the average elephant shit and how much does it weigh? It’s the same number: 17 times and 17 pounds. We also talked about the importance of staying dry and how to dry things out that did get wet. The weather here has been very misty with rain off and on throughout the day. I don’t like the thought of getting wet but I’m pretty dry right now and the group is a lot of fun.