What shoes one wears during their leisure activities does not count for much most of the time unless its one’s hiking shoes, somehow I forgot to highlight that part when Matilda, a first-time hiker inquired whether Timberlands would do if one intended to take a leisurely walk along the base of the Rwenzori in Kasese. I must have agreed with the nonchalance of one trying to attract the attention of a waiter at whatever watering-hole we were having this discussion.
The Kilembe hike was one of those we made up on the fly. We had faith in our ability and that of the fixer on ground to find a route long enough to keep us occupied the whole day and picturesque enough to capture some memories. We did not count on the curveballs of planning that awaited us;
- We arrived in at Simba Camp in Kasese at about 4:00 am in the morning, the hike was slated to begin 9:00 am the same morning. We had to set up camp, perhaps take a bath and be ready for the hike in a few short hours.
- A significant chunk of the members had converted the vans into makeshift bars all the way from Kampala and had not had a wink of sleep, how were they going to manage the next day?
- The hiking party comprised many first time hikers who must have wondered albeit silently if the inebriated bunch was in for the hike or were escorts for the serious hikers.
- It was a blistering hot Saturday with hardly any shade along the village paths we had adopted as our trail and many people had underestimated the volume of water needed for the day. The guides, misguided the hikers that there would be plenty of streams along the way.
The Hiking proper started about 20km off the road to Bwera Uganda’s border post with the Democratic Republic of Congo, the starting point seemed arbitrary at first and attracted a small crowd of curious onlookers. It was one of those carry all you need, no porters as we made our way through homesteads. The guides would shout salutations in Lukonjo as the villagers inquired of them where they were off to with all these “fat people” some even swore on their ancestors that some members would not make it another hour. The sun was loud yo.
The hiking fraternity is very supportive so the sweepers will catch up with the rest. Let’s take a breather. let’s have a drink and ponder this matter. However, somewhere further up the trail, The Mountain Goat hopped across one of the few rivers on the trail as if it was nothing. You see the Goat survives only on Nitrogen and Oxygen for sustenance.
The crew in the middle chugged along as best they could,
Built like a pack-horse Fundi usually makes his journey alone, often making his own path to the destination or getting lost completely. He was spotted here tamed by the sun but his pack on board loaded with pleasant surprises.
The sun has that effect on people, everybody finds their level, and others depending on how well you prepared were sign-out with a smile. Though I believe Matilda could have made it with her shoeless feet, the mountain residents do it that way…all the time.
Because the sweeping crew could not support the member beyond this point, it was unanimously decided that the errant Timberlands will be carried along for the journey in case another member up the trail had a wardrobe malfunction less serious than Matildas.
The ultimate winners
While everyone was coping with the elements the best they could singly or in groups the indefatigable party of Mr and Mrs Kagimu pushed on inch by painful inch up the mountain slopes. I studied them for a while, humbled by the gentleness with which Anthony chaperoned his wife Victoria, gentle but reassuring with love and humour from Victoria’s side as the rest of us made naughty remarks. It was a short course on love, marriage and teamwork. You see Victoria was with child but she was not quitting, talk all you want. I was moved to like half a tear…before I walked on passed them.
I wonder why we do this, but I suppose everybody has their reasons. On this particular hike, I had more than the usual excuse to sit in a vat of beer. That evening was the christening of the then-new BEHRINGER, (MPA40BTPRO) Bluetooth Speaker she was named Mildred.