Day 8 – August 5
We awaken while still dark, a little after 5:30 with the sounds of the camels complaining and gurgling while they are being readied for the days hike. I rub away sleep and try to get my head focused on getting packed up. It seems like a slow process but I finally get everything back in my pack and the nylon bag filled again with the plastic sheeting and mat. Steve is a Proper Walk veteran, he lends me a hand when his packing is done and offers some suggestions that ease my morning task.
I stop over at the table that serves as the morning’s dining area where we have tea, breakfast bars, some fruit, and can stock up on biltong (camel jerky) and little candies to take with us to munch or suck on while we walk. Suddenly, John says, “Time to head out!” and the herders lead the camels out of camp. We walkers aren’t quite ready. We dash around wrapping up last minute details such as finding water for the days hike and off we go. Tommie hands me camera B for taking some video and a quick lesson on the camera, I have my Camel Back, hiking poles and I look over at Phil. We just laugh at how hectic this morning’s scene is.
Off we go on the Proper Walk; it has finally started after more than a year of preparation and planning. We are heading in a westerly direction, away from the sun which will be rising soon. We walk at double time to catch up with the camels that left camp ahead of us. The camels walk between 3 and 4 miles per hour, a very good pace for long hikes. We will be covering a good distance today; the early start is to avoid walking in the mid-day heat.
I catch up with the camels and watch their soft footpads. They walk so quietly it surprises me. Each step they lightly land and then, almost like a hydraulic lift, settle the weight of each step gently down. As I walk beside them they look at me with their totally dark eye. Their lips quiver from the vibration of each step. When they are feeling good they chew cud constantly. This morning most camels are chewing, a very good sign after what we heard about tryps. The camels are tied together in three groups with one of the handlers leading the first camel and the others dutifully follow.
I stop to take some video but realize I have it on stand by. I try it again and am recording but I missed the shot I had intended. Then as I rearrange and get going I look up and the camel caravan is well ahead. I run to catch up and start sweating. I don’t think I will take much video today until I see just how strenuous these walks are going to be. I take a big swig of water from my Camel Back and catch up with the walkers.
We see gazelle, both Hunter and Thompson varieties, Oryx, and many birds such as the Kori Bustard and grouse. As I was walking through some grass a covey of grouse sprang up in front of me, a really nice sight. Many of the acacia trees have bird nests hanging from them, making it appear like they have ornaments attached. We circle around a large hill and come upon a Boran village. They stare at us and finally return our waves.
As we approach a grove of trees, we are met with a beautiful symphony of sound. I didn’t hear the birds the last time I was in Kenya as our safari was from a vehicle. I am thoroughly enjoying the songs sung by weavers, the birds that make the hanging nests. The Land Rovers and pick-up pass us about a half mile from the end of today’s hike. We covered over 18 miles today and are done by early afternoon.
Robin, Jessica, and John are in good spirits and tell us all about their “fat man’s breakfast” and leisurely morning they enjoyed. A fat man’s breakfast is the eggs, meat, bread, and tea morning meal. They are a lot of fun and enjoy giving us the business about our long walk. They belong to their local tennis club so I enjoy chatting about tennis and tell them about Clark going with the San Francisco team to play tennis at the International Children's Games in Bangkok.
The camp is quickly set up but I wait to set up my tent. It turns out to be a good move as it rains briefly and soaks what has been unpacked. A tarp has been set up over our kitchen and sitting area. Tea and drinks are set about and we enjoy a leisurely afternoon. We head down to the river and sit in the calm, cool, and very muddy water and enjoy our favorite beverage. It is a good chance to wash off the days sweat and dust and to have a chance to talk more with John, Robin and Roger.
A fun night of drinks, jokes (some not so funny such as mine that was met with unearthly silence), and songs. This has been a great start to Proper Walk 06.