Conquering My First Mountain- Longonot

Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined I would climb a mountain. My love for hiking has never extended to wanting to climb mountains.

Why?

I have an irrational fear of the unknown, in this scenario, it is altitude sickness. Therefore, I steered clear from any mountain activities set up by the drift community. However, last month my close friend Wendy hit me up to climb Mount Longonot — a stratovolcano, last thought to have erupted in the 1860s, is 2776 m above sea level.

The name Mount Longonot originates from the Maasai word oloonong’ot, meaning “mountains of many spurs” or “steep ridges”. Located in Nakuru County in the Lake Naivasha region. - Kenya Safari

I was to decline her offer, but instead of turning her down immediately, I decided to think it through. And after a random discussion with my best friend who thinks I am a daredevil. I committed to the adventure.

The journey to Mount Lonogot started from Limuru road and we connected into the Maai Mahiu route which is the shortest way to get there from our side of the hood. I found comfort in knowing that Wendy’s brother and niece were going to climb the mountain.

Up the Mountain…

At the start of any hike, it is important to stretch your body — we went through the stretches with the team guides.

The start of the hike up to the first hut was easy. This was our first resting point before getting to the crater.

The ascent to the crater was slightly hard but we made it through — including Wendy’s 3-year-old niece! Once at the top you will get an amazing view of the Lake Naivasha region and the crater — a breathtaking view.

Once you get to the crater, you can choose to end your hike or go around the crater and get to the highest peak of Longonot — Kilele Ngamia. Having reached the crater I was content with the idea of not going around it - after all, I made it to the top. As I got ready to descend with Wendy, her brother and niece, I was somehow bamboozled to go halfway through the crater with the opportunity to turn back at any point if it was too much.

The journey to walk slightly around the crater began, the first quarter of the hike was easy. Then it started taking a turn for the worst as we were nearing Kilele and I told the guide — Sammy, that I was ready to turn back.

Sammy was not having it, and he kept convincing me that we were very close to getting to the top. Then to distract me from the torture, he asked me about my dreams and fears.

In my mind, I was like how is this relevant to hiking up Kilele??

Anyway, I entertained him and shared my fear — climbing hills and my dream of being able to live a comfortable life without constantly being on the grind. He then proceeded to ask a follow-up question; how I would get to my comfortable life?

By making my money work for me through; saving — in SACCOs and money market funds. After finished sharing, Sammy asked me a very profound question;

Do you give up when you are close to attaining your financial goal?

I said, no! I would not give up.

…and that is how I got to the Kilele Ngamia peak! It was such a surreal moment because of how I kept trying to convince myself I could not do it but I did it in the end, thanks to Sammy.

Sammy was an amazing guide like the Let’s Drift community guides, he kept pushing me and even sharing some tips on how to climb. Such as:

  • Keep breathing, as you ascend you can forget to breathe and only breath when you stop for a break — but you have to keep reminding yourself to breathe as you climb.
  • Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
  • Take full steps i.e do not use your heels but instead your whole foot — my right leg has a mind of its own and kept failing me.
  • Rest, pay attention to your body and when it feels like you are overextending yourself — rest. Slow and steady wins the race

After getting to Kilele the rest of the trip around the crater was a breeze and I met some awesome ladies.

Climbing Mt. Lonogot was a glass shatter moment for me. It made me reflect on the first hike I did with the Let’s Drift Community. I kept undermining myself and finding all manner of excuses to quit and this moment allowed me to take full accountability for my love for excuses. Moving forward I will work on not undermining my prowess and keep pushing to greater heights….maybe even trek elephant hills and climb Mt Kenya :-)

*Climbing Mt. Longonot will cost you Kshs. 250 (Kenyan National adults) and an additional Kshs.50 if you want a hiking stick (You will need it).

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Ivy Gathu

Words inspired by my feelings on life, gender, sexual reproductive rights, mental health, youth 🤓