Climbing Mt. Kenya in 2021 was nowhere in my plans for 2021. In fact, I remember on my birthday in January, a friend suggested to a few of us that we climb Mt. Longonot and I thought that was so funny!
This must have, however, stuck in my mind, as towards the end of January, I reached out to a friend who I knew was into hiking and asked her about the groups she hikes with. Outdoorer received the highest rating from her and so I checked them out, saw the #beginnertomtkenya program, and decided to sign up for their 2nd class, which was starting in May.
To prepare myself, I started walking every Saturday at Arboretum then eventually graduated to Karura. Thigiri gate was our favorite prep walk. It got to a point where on a good week we would do the 10K Thigiri route — even three times a week — plus other cardio exercises on other days.
May was soon here and we started the program. All the prep hikes were hard! I made it to the summit for the first three. I did the initially-dreaded Longonot and even made it round the rim. From there, Table Mountain, Mackinders, and Satima were super-tough, and I did not make it to the summit but with each of them, I got to a higher altitude — which at that point was my only goal.
August 12th was soon upon us, and it was time to face Mt. Kenya — the one thing we had been prepping for. I recall a friend asking me during that week if I was excited about it and I said, “NO, anxious is more of what I am feeling!”
I did not know what to expect; I just knew I was going to do, quite possibly, the hardest thing I had ever done! I don’t think I have had as many conversations with God as I did while on this trek. He was my source of strength whenever I would feel that there was nothing left in me to go on. At night when trying to sleep I would ask for strength for myself, and for everyone else to face the next day’s challenge.
After the entire experience, I can say the 90-day program prepared me physically for the hike; mentally, I had told myself that I can do it and I will do it. And, the only thing that was going to deter me from getting to Point Lenana was altitude sickness.
My learnings after it all:
– I am so much stronger than I have ever given myself credit for.
– Anything is possible, just take it one step at a time. I could have given up during the prep hikes when I did not make it to the summit for the last three hikes but the experience alone, showing up and giving it my best still prepared me for the ultimate goal.
These and many more that I am still uncovering every day are a few of the things I have learned on this journey and I hope to carry with me every day of my life.
To team Outdoorer, thank you for coming up with this program! Without it I know I would never have achieved this goal (that I didn’t even know I had).
To Sammy and his Mt. Kenya guides and entire crew, THANK YOU! You held our hands and in some cases, carried our bags, helped us put on our gloves — the many little acts of kindness went a long way. Thank you Fui and Gogo for taking this up with me (though you were always miles ahead of me 😊).
Here’s to unlocking more mountains in my life!