We asked her to give us a brief introduction of herself. Ofcourse, she laughed out loud. She says she is a girl who loves to hike, camp and read books. As we know her, she is a Sanguine. The one who lights up the room and makes you laugh from the bottom of your heart. She celebrates her birthday in three phases: pre half-birthday i.e Six months before her birthday month, her birthday month and post-half birthday. That makes it a full year, if you do the math 🙂 Yeah Whit, we still remember. If she could live in the mountains, she would. As OTGE, we draw a lot of inspiration from her dedication and hiking lifestyle. A summit at one mountain will lead her to the next and next. Gang, Meet Whitney.
The heart wants what it wants ~Whitney Mosingi.
I had started hiking intentionally in 2018. The fulfillment in these terrains is unmatched. Each time you summit, you almost feel like you have been awarded for having a good time. If you have hiked long enough with groups, you will meet veterans, people who have conquered most, if not all the big mountains in East Africa. It is through the day hikes, that my path crossed a hiker who had done Everest Base camp and other major mountains. Have you ever been so humbled after flossing about your Longonot, Ngong, and your elephant hills escapades only to realize people are out there with better stories? That is how my Journey to Mt.Kenya began.
On New Year’s 2019, I wrote in my diary that I would conquer Mt Kenya and then proceed to Zanzibar for a birthday treat. Ah, we plan, God laughs. By April, my savings could only manage either. It wasn’t a difficult decision to make because when it comes down to it, I prefer mountains to beaches.
In preparation for Mt Kenya, I did all the research and watched several YouTube videos on people’s experiences on the mountain. I like to be prepared and adjust my expectations. I could tell you the itinerary word by word, and what to expect on what day. I am 100% that girl, I do not like surprises.
BUT, nothing can ever prepare you for Mt Kenya. I had a reckoning of how scenic and beautiful it was but spending five days on the mountain and experiencing it was so surreal. Flashback to our last prep hike in Ngong hills, our lead guide from Xtrym Adventures had said:
“It is such a beautiful experience. Some of you will get altitude sickness, emotional and there will be no showering the entire time. In short, you will leave all your dignity at the gate.”
In my head I was like “c’mon, how bad can it be?” My point is unless you experience it, it is just another story by yet another storyteller.
Everything you are told is true, but disregard everything and experience it yourself. It is different for everyone.
Day one and two, for the most part of it, were the honeymoon stages of the hike. You experience breath-taking and insanely beautiful views. The sunset and the sunrise. Your energy levels are high. You get to drink water directly from the streams. You indulge in stories. The fresh air. You are aware of the great company. You are keen on what guides are telling you: names of different plants, their uses, and the likes. You are in a different setup. You are happy.
Day 2 around midday we got to a very scenic site and boy I started having a headache, gradually. I was disappointed, I had prepared well, you know; gym, prep hikes, had the right gear, drank my water religiously and here I was this early on? Why? The rejection stage!
The Summit night is second night and the night before ascending to the peak. See, we were supposed to rise at 2 am for the journey to Lenana peak. Every worse scenario we were told might happen, ah, I experienced it. All me. I had the worst nausea. Headaches. Let’s not get to my spiraling emotions. My body was acclimatizing. It felt like an eternity. Probably 15 to 20 hours. This is normal unless the guides tell you otherwise or you experience severe symptoms.
The Mountain is always going to be there, you can always come back, but your life may not.
Around 6.30 pm we got to the base camp and all hell broke loose. I got so cold and numb. I thought that was the coldest night until months later I was in Kilimanjaro and realized that was foreplay, FOREPLAY. A story for another day. Minutes later I was still experiencing the symptoms. Headache and Nausea. The guides had me taken to a separate room. I had a bucket beside just in case I needed to throw up. I lost track of time, I couldn’t keep up. The chefs made me porridge sometime in the night and fed me with a spoon because I hadn’t eaten supper and I needed all the energy I could get.
I vaguely remember the guides checking my temperature, oxygen, and water levels at night. My saving grace was they were at normal. Kendi, the female guide, stayed with me the whole night checking on me, she barely slept. Thanks, Kendi 🙂
Around 4.00 am I woke up in a panic, thinking everyone already left for the summit. Every single fiber in my body was telling me not to go up but my mental game was on level 150%. I would push myself and if I couldn’t make it then so be it, I tried. We started going up at that time. The mountain was foggy but so majestic. You could barely see anyone. Only headlamps.
I told myself then “Whit, you could have been on a beach somewhere sipping chardonnay celebrating your birthday but here you are, why though?” The Acceptance stage!
The most memorable moment about that morning was the intense cold. I was equally sleepy. I thought I would fall over on that steep slope. Apparently, this is a symptom of altitude sickness because of decreased oxygen levels at high altitudes. At another point, I was told if I wasn’t going to get better I would be taken down immediately. The guides were really professional and Kendi kept reassuring me I was going to make it.
In the night, one of us had been taken down for medical attention and two others did not feel too well so they chose not to summit. It really is never that serious. You need to draw the line.
A couple of hours later, I got better, my body had acclimatized and I summited. Making it to the summit is really awesome and the views from that point are out of this world. Make no mistake, the joy only lasts so long, it is the journey you enjoy more, the summit just crowns it all.
The celebratory stage! The beauty of Mt Kenya is that after the summit on day three, the views get better. It is a breath of fresh air, almost like it is apologizing for all that it has put you through and you quickly forget your pain. It is like going for that spa treatment after a marathon or having that ice cream after a tough day.
We went down and camped at the most beautiful place in Kenya. Honestly, I don’t think pictures can capture how beautiful this place is. A lake so beautiful and enclosed. Mt Kenya has several of these lakes.
Day four was easy, reminiscing while doing the last hike. This last night of the mountain is the first time you shower with hot water before proceeding to the summit party.
I knew normal life depressed me after exiting the mountain on day 5. Suddenly, my phone needed to be back on, tokens, rent, wi-fi needed to be paid for, and back to work. Oh, the joy of being on mountains and have completely different problems. Four months later, I was gearing up for Mt. Kilimanjaro.