The morning after my late-night arrival in Nairobi, Anne hustled me out of bed and downtown, where we caught a crowded matatu north to Mt. Kenya. We only had four days before we had to meet the parents, so we weren't wasting any time. At lunch, we met a guiding service in Naro Moru, then took a taxi to the park gate near Nanyuki. Three hours of hiking brought us to the Old Moses (Judmeier) camp well after dark.
Our plan was to spend three nights on the Sirimon Route, one of three major routes up the mountain. Our scheduling left us one day short of the time we needed to comfortably ascend point Lenana, the mountain's third-highest summit. We would ascend as far as Shipton's Camp, which, at 13,800 feet, sits right at the base of Nelion and Batian. At just over 17,000 feet, these summits are the second highest in Africa.
Hiring guides and porters is customary on Mt. Kenya. Anne and I were new to, and a little skeptical of, this system. We hired a guide, Elijah, but no porters, so we each schlepped a full pack up the steep approach trails, barely keeping even with French tourists strolling along beside us with their daypacks slung over one shoulder. Our well-intentioned micromanaging of the food-buying process in the interest of weight just wound up confusing poor Elijah, who wound up scrounging food from the other guides for the entire trip.
After dinner on Camp Shipton, we decided that we might make a try for Lenana after all, and descend to Old Moses in the same day. We woke up at 2am and got ready to go, which is when I noticed that I was already feeling dizzy. Having spent less than two days on the mountain, and at high elevation for the first time in months, I decided I would be wise to go back to sleep. Anne and Elijah pressed on, and made it almost halfway to the summit before turning back.
Over the next two days, we made a fast descent and returned to Nairobi, where we caught a plane to the beach in Mombasa.