Day 10 Ė August 7

 

I slept completely through the night although, there were a few complaints about my snoring.  I think they had me confused with the hippo that came up out of the river during the night.  Three crocodiles have set up duty at the river bank where we came across.  We could see their eyes reflecting the lights of our lamps.  It made us wonder how they happened to end up right where we crossed, what directed them to that exact spot.

 

After packing up, we enjoy a quick breakfast and tea.  We are going to leave camp as soon as there is enough light to see the path with the goal of reaching 20 miles before noon.  It looks like it will be a clear day and very hot by early afternoon.

 

We head out of camp before the sun has come over the hill.  It is dark enough that any picture I take has the auto flash on.  We are moving at a pretty fast clip even though we are hiking up hill.  We are going around a large hill or small mountain that will block the sun until at least 10:00, keeping the early morning hike cool and comfortable.  We see the ubiquitous dik-dik and a nice herd of water buck.  We can also see a herd of buffalo in the distance across the river in the Shaba Nature Reserve.  Some of the handlers at the front of the pack saw half a dozen elephants disappear over the hills to our right but I didnít get there until they were gone.  We see their fresh droppings, they crossed our path only minutes before we arrived.

 

We begin going back down towards the river and see many dum palms that have burned.  Birds are everywhere it seems and I am really enjoying watching and listening to them while we hike.  The pace seems to have picked up even more as we cross a lugga (dry river bed) that connects with the Ewaso.  I snap a few photos and look up to see the last of our party disappear behind some trees.  I make a conscious effort to catch up then drink a good amount of water as the sun has now risen above the mountain behind us.  The land is becoming quite barren, there is little grass and few low shrubs that we have been seeing.  This land is over grazed and we are seeing substantial erosion. 

 

We have gone considerably longer on this hike than the first day as we now have to make up for the lost day by the river.  It is warming considerably.  Everyone puts on their coverings to block the sun from the back of their neck and shoulders.  The sun is very intense and my hat is completely soaked from perspiration. 

 

Finally, we see the support vehicles coming up the road.  What a great sight as it means we are just about done for the day.  We follow their tracks and find them setting up under some large acacia trees.  It appears we hiked 27 miles today and I am really feeling it.

 

First thing we do in camp is take a load off and get a drink.  After relaxing a bit we get our tents set up.  It is a bit more challenging to do when you feel so tired but finally the chore is done and I join the others for some tea.  This will be the final day we have the support vehicles with us, everything we need will have to be carried on the camels now.  John, Robin, and Jessica will be heading home and taking Teddy to Ol Maisor.

 

Our camp is very close to the river so we make our way down to the bank.  We watch a Samburu herdsman attempt to wade across the river but he stops and heads back as it gets pretty deep towards the far shore.  A croc path is found near where we are sitting showing where it slid into the river.  It pays to keep ones eyes open along this river. 

 

As our group sits, I ask about the over grazing we saw today.  Iím told that the Samburu are getting pushed out of some of their traditional areas by the Pokot tribe who seem to like to fight.  This has put too many people and too many animals on land that cannot support them.  One of the issues is that wealth to the Samburu and other herding tribes is the number of animals they have.  During the recent drought UN aid and US aid saved many of the herds from being slaughtered as nearly a third of their diet has come from these aid packages.  The unintended consequence is that they donít have to use their herds for food and the over grazing issue becomes even more severe during the drought years.  Over population and land use are going to be huge issues in this area.

 

Phil points out stars and constellations and interesting facts.  He is very knowledgeable about the southern hemisphere sky.  We head back to camp for dinner.  After eating we have a sing along led by Michael.  None of us seem to know many songs all the way through but it is still fun.  No one asks me to perform one of my solos I have been known to break into.  I wonder why?