Lost in Kang’ere: The joy of the last SU Staff Hike in 2022
When the Strathmore University Wellness Team organized the first Staff hike to Mt. Longonot earlier in the year, no one knew hiking would become such a favourite of many. What started out as an opportunity for staff to go out there and conquer nature has now become a critical part of the what the staff look forward to.
The last hike of the year took place on 12th November 2022 in Kamweti Forest, Kang’ere waterfall in Kirinyaga. It brought all the year’s longings and satisfied all the cravings of missed opportunities within the year. The excitement was evident from the beginning. By 6am, several staff members, dressed in appropriate hiking gear, were already in Phase One ready to take off.
Though the journey was a bit longer than I expected, arriving at Kirinyaga’s Kamweti Forest brought all assurances of a great day ahead. The warmup achieved its goal, when all of us were given a chance to introduce ourselves using “names and actions”. This was a brilliant way to test the readiness of the team and the spirit therein. Indeed, the team were ready to conquer the chilly forest.
Shortly after the instructions on navigating the forest were given, the “Subaru Team” led the way to a 10-kilometre trail. Team Subaru is always characterized by turgid and anonymous members who have a loud blue tooth speaker walking with them. They have an oath of secrecy regarding the source of their energy. They smile with those who attempt to join them but deep down, they know that midway, the ‘newbies’ will drop out.
This time, team Subaru did not just go ahead of everyone, but they did so with a decisive margin. So much so that the other team got lost in the forest and took a different route – acquiring the name ‘the Lost Team’. The sound of music from team Subaru’s Bluetooth speaker was absorbed by the forest, which made it impossible for the lost team to know their whereabouts. Team Subaru thus managed to get to the waterfalls and stay there for about an hour before the lost team found their way to the falls. By the time the lost team got to the falls, team Subaru had finished their snacks, taken a million pictures, and were now galloping the cool spring waters of Kang’ere Falls. Some, like Brian Njeru, were already tempted to start swimming. No one knew that the “beautiful ones were not yet born”. A whole new adventure awaited us at the attempt to go down the waterfall to view the magical fall of the water.
When everyone gathered , a tricky navigation down the bottom of the falls started. The navigation to the bottom was about 500 metres but it was the one place that tested almost everything: resilience, determination, name it. The way every root you caught was threatening to fall off with you and the scary nature of the falls below brought so much silence in the team. I have never come closer to the understanding of the meaning of “life and death” situation. However, the promise of seeing the fall in its entirety was greater than the fear of falling in the cages that led to it. The promise of taking that one magical picture that could serve as a profile picture for the whole year called everyone to “risk everything” to get to the bottom of the fall.
After nearly an hour of navigating through the weak roots, slippery surface, steep gorges and pricky trees, a section of the team got to the bottom of the fall. The warning by one of the wardens kept ringing in my mind, “hapa hakuna kiherehere”. How people like Ndolo managed to get there in record time still baffles me.
Indeed, viewing the falls from below was magical. It was worth the risk. The water was cooler and the whole environment was refreshing. When I got there, I took a moment of silence to remember those who hadn’t made it for fear of navigating the steep gorges. They missed everything. How could someone come to Kang’ere and miss all these? Brian Njeru and Mark were already swimming. Mark you, the temperature of the water and the forest was about 8 degrees. I never knew we had cold blooded people in Strathmore. Everyone became a professional photographer. Instagram was the greatest winner. The view was magical and the breeze and droplets of water falling on your forehead as you struggled through the slippery rocks was healing. It took away all the struggles of the year. Leaving the bottom of the falls couldn’t happen without reminders and threats from the warden. “Going back is more difficult, start early!” One said.
The view and the experience at the bottom of the fall was so magical that no one imagined the journey back would be excruciating. Truly, as they say where I come from, “bul pek bang’ thum” (The drum is heavy after the concert). Climbing back to “safety” was an extreme sport. It was consoling that the team lead by our Vice Chancellor, Dr. Vincent Ogutu, was waiting at the entrance to clap for everyone who made it back. That clap was heavenly. Not to mention the glucose.
From there on, everyone talked in low tones, as if not to annoy the forest. The walk to the starting point was made easier by the magical experience. When all was said and done, the sumptuous meal served at Kerugoya Upcountry restaurant put all of us in the mood of getting back to the city. Throughout the journey back, our statuses were updated at a rate of 1 status per second.
What a way to end the year! Catherine, we are ready for 2023. Bring them on!
This article was written by Gabriel Dinda, a Teaching fellow at School of Humanities and Social Sciences.
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