At first, living at 8,000 feet can be a little strenuous on one’s lungs. Recently we had a family from Toronto visit and they soon found that out when we set out to climb Elephant Mountain.
In order to reach the base camp we had to hire boda-boda’s (motor bikes) to drive us the 5 miles, otherwise it would have been a much longer day. So our go-to guy, Peter (pictured above,) assembled a crew of motley drivers and we were on our way.
Once we arrived at the base camp our driver, Maina, picked us up and drove us to the starting spot. Along the way, we realized why the bikers couldn’t make it to the drop-off spot. The “road” that we took was 6 feet wide and muddy with three-foot deep tire tracks carved out. At one point, our safari vehicle of a school bus got stuck in a four foot divot and we had to jam broken tree branches underneath the back wheels to get some traction. All in all, the half a mile trip to the drop-off point took around 30 minutes. Once we arrived, our guide Julius informed us that the hike would most likely take six to eight hours round trip.
Luckily it was a cloudy day. This made the hike a bit cooler, and more bearable for everyone. About halfway up the ascent, and 2.5 hours into the hike, Charlie and I asked Julius what his record time for climbing the mountain was. “2 hours” he replied, a very blatant casual brag, but we all laughed for a little before he reassured us that we were climbing at a “normal tourists clip.”
Once we neared the top, the path became a bit more open as we were climbing across the ridge line. Before the final ascent, the path turned more consequential and the ridge line dropped off at a steeper rate. The mother of the family was not into it. After a good 15 minutes of discussion, Julius and I were the only two to continue to the top, and we cruised. We climbed the last quarter of a mile and reached the summit in under 5 minutes.
On the way down we paused for a moment to catch our breath. We all sat down and stared out into the thick, grey covered skyline and I snapped one last picture of Julius before we made our way to the bottom.