About a week ago, I went on a hike through the valleys and hills of Kapchorwa, Eastern Uganda with the Mountain Slayers and it was everything I hoped for and more.
There is a reason the land is home to the long-distance runners like Gold medal winners Stephen Kiprotich and Joshua Cheptegei and I was about to find out why.
Waking up to the sound of raindrops falling on my tent at 6:30 am was all the motivation I needed. The “eargasm” accompanied with a breath of fresh chilled air had all the adrenaline rushing through my body.
“We are not going to start hiking in this weather”, I thought to myself. And just as soon as the thought passed, I had my name being called.
“We have about 30 minutes, grab your breakfast and lunch. We have to go through the rain,” a friend said.
And all I could think about was how motivated the Mountain Slayers are, no amount of rain was going to stand in their way.
Upside Down Tree
A few minutes into the hike, our shoes were filled with mud and it was impossible to see anything 100m in front of us because of the mist.
I saw the fast walkers disappear in thin air and I started calculating the probability of getting lost since I’m always on “team sloth.” Luckily for me, a guide (sweeper) showed up and I stopped solving the equation.
As we headed into one of the many valleys, I saw something so profound, something I wouldn’t have believed unless I had seen it with my own eyes. An upside-down tree!!!
This tree defied the laws of gravity and chose to be different. It grew in between rocks and instead of it growing upwards, it thought long and hard, “why not grow downwards.”
Maize and Beans
Accompanying the breathtaking views of the waterfalls, valleys, ridges, and savannah was the rich soils. At almost every turn there were beans or maize plantations which we had to walk through and this was no easy feat.
With every step I took, my shoes collected more soil and several times I felt like they weighed about 5 or 10kgs extra. I would get rid of the soil (read as mud) and 5 minutes later they would be heavy again. At one point someone said “brace for impact, beans coming up.”
We burst out laughing because getting frustrated by the terrain or the mud wasn’t an option.
At the end of almost 3 to 5 plantations was a jaw-dropping view that would make me forget about my body aches. It’s like God took his time to design this land because the views are to die for.
They often say it’s easier and faster for the younger generation to learn a dance move as compared to the older generation and we found out why.
One of the guys was so determined to learn the floss dance and he wasn’t about to let anyone rain on his parade. With every chance he got, he attempted it.
His zeal was so infectious that it got most of us attempting it and to put it lightly “we murdered the dance.”
The creator of the dance must have had nightmares that night. Though to be fair, we may have lacked the move coordination but we had the heart and that’s more important.
After a 24 km walk of steep terrain in about 10 hours, I thought I would be completely exhausted but my body had other ideas. A warm shower and a cup of tea later, my body rebooted and I danced into the wee hours.
Being the reserved soul (that’s what I tell myself), several mountain slayers wondered where this person let’s call him “Walternate” had been hiding. All I could say was, “Nature brings the best out of me.”
Still to come: Land of A Thousand Waterfalls