Day 16 – August 13
We woke up earlier than usual and had a full moon to help us pack. We broke camp a bit before 6:00 and walked in the moonlight before the sun began to appear. I feel refreshed after a long night of sleep and my morning tea and breakfast. I get into a nice rhythm and head out in front of the camels. Soon no one is near me. I see impala occasionally leap across the road and into the thick trees on either side. I stop now and then to see if I can hear the hikers or camels behind me. When I verify they are back there I take off again. I am feeling GOOD today but also a bit melancholy as this is getting very close to the end of the Proper Walk ’06. As I prepared for this walk, it was always out there in the future and now it is in the present and soon to be in the past. It does hit me with a bit of sadness but right now I am going to enjoy today’s hike.
I come upon fresh elephant droppings with a puddle of urine still standing in the road. I look warily around me to see if it is still in the vicinity. I check the elephant’s tracks and see which way it went. I think for a moment of following the tracks and then decide to stay on the road. The road is heading up and is a good hill. I did a lot of hill training so this feels good. I get into a nice rhythm with my poles and quicken my pace. The sun is now up and illuminating several manyattas in the distance on another beautiful day.
Now I can’t hear anyone behind me and the road has come to a junction so, I wait to see who will be coming up the road first. Here comes Tommy with the omnipresent video camera. We talk for a few minutes and then some more of the hikers approach. They ask what got into me today as one minute I was next to them and the next they couldn’t see me. I said I just felt really good today and like climbing hills. It’s a good thing because once we got to the top of this hill we went down again. We were going to continue climbing and descending all day on these rolling hills.
The next hill took us to a Catholic Mission and the largest town we have seen on our hike. Many people speak English and greet us as we pass along the road. I stop and talk with several brothers, the younger one was heading to Tourism Administration training in Nairobi the next day. They ask for my contact information as we start to walk away, I give them my Proper Walk web site. I did that several times, it will be interesting to see if anyone does contact me. One woman asks, “Where are you walking to,” and when we tell them she says, “Sorry”! I guess she thought it was too far to walk.
After another long hill we go down again and cross a lugga at the bottom. I am well out in front of the caravan but fortunately, I was close enough to hear whistles and shouts that tell me we are stopping for a break. We stop here for a water break and to fill up our water containers, there is another hand pump well here. It is a nice respite. Amanda tells me we are only about 30 miles from Ol Maisor which really surprises me. Her brother Simon owned a beautiful lodge above the Ewaso Nyiro that is less than 10 miles from where we are. He sold it last November to a British woman. He is a hunter and guide and I think the customer service side of running a lodge didn’t really suit him.
I asked Amanda what changes she has seen in Kenya since she was a kid. She said most everything that has happened has been bad. Too many people, too many animals, over grazing, fewer wild animals, bad government, and the Samburu don’t respect private property. The Samburu are trying to get the privately owned ranch land to be taken back for tribal grazing and are continually cutting fences to let their herds graze on private ranch land. She said so far they have been able to keep the land grab at bay but she said it may get more and more difficult. One daughter who moved to Australia has suggested they sell off and move there. Obviously, they have no intention of doing so but, it shows how frustrated the White Kenyans are that this option is even mentioned.
We head out after filling up the water containers and having a snack of wonderfully sweet oranges. Tommy and Phil were out ahead of the camels when we stopped and they did not hear our calls to stop. We are heading off on a road to the right that is several miles shorter than the main road that winds around the hill. It is starting to heat up and this last hill seems very long. We pass several herds of goats and see the over grazing that is a reminder of how fragile this wild land really is.
Finally, we get to the top of this long hill and start back down to the Ewaso Nyiro. At the bottom is a metal bridge we will cross to get to our camp site. As we approach the bridge the walkers are told to get to the side of the road as they want the camel’s momentum to carry them across the bridge. The metal surface on these bridges feels slick to their foot pads and they have been known to refuse to cross.
The camels cross without a bit of hesitation reminding me that Michael said this is by far the best trained and experienced camel team he has seen on the three Proper Walks. We hike a small distance to an area below a man made dam and stop for today’s camp. What a beautiful site! A large rock with a strangler tree covering it will be the backdrop of our camp right beside the Ewaso Nyiro. A large acacia tree with long cylinder beehives is between the dining area of the camp and the river. Roger tells me that a tribe has developed into bee keepers and tells me how they harvest the honey. They wait until evening, strip down naked, take a smoking torch and climb to the hives. The smoke anesthetizes the bees and they harvest the honey.
We had hiked 20 up and down miles before noon. One more day of hiking and we wrap up Proper Walk ’06. I kick back with Michael and Steve enjoying a warm Tusker on top of the rock. We relax and look up and down the river noting the young Samburu that have settled across the river to stare at our troop. After drinking our noon tea and having a snack we head up to the dam and have our final bath in the Ewaso Nyiro. It is refreshing.
Tommy reports today’s attempt to charge the PDA during the hike has broken a copper wire in the modem; no more dispatches on Proper Walk ‘06. I will call Allyson tomorrow morning and give her a verbal statement to put up on my website or to send to our friends and family.
Last night, Michael was told the three options we have to finish the hike. We can follow the road we were on yesterday, go overland across a private ranch, or follow the river through three ranches before ending up under a large rock formation along a tributary of the Ewaso Nyiro. Michael chooses the river route as it is the best chance to see wildlife. Amanda called John to tell him our route and to clear it with the ranch owners. The final walk will take us within 10 miles of Ol Maisor.