The third waterfall of the day and our final hike was to the 'biggest waterfall' on Mt. Elgon. Saving the best for last, or so we thought.
We couldn’t have been more wrong. . .
Our trek started out with our guide joking about how hard this final hike is and did we all think we were tough enough to do it. All of which was said with a big grin and a lot of chuckling. ‘Of course he’s messing with us,’ we all thought, though not completely convinced.
What started out as a nice easy journey quickly turned into a hike from hell as the trail took a downward turn, literally. We were no longer hiking a mountain, we were scaling a cliff! And that is NOT an exaggeration. I went down twice. The first because we were attempting to walk down an especially steep area and the dirt started rolling under my shoes and I couldn't get any traction - a few seconds later 'I can't stop!' Luckily, Danielle was in front of me and threw out an arm for me so I could stop. If I thought that was bad, I was in for a rude awakening.
Enter the ‘Walls of Death.’ A rickety wooden staircase/ladder mutation that becomes completely vertical about halfway down. Descending the contraption was not so much difficult as it was frightening, due to the fact that if you slipped you’d fall to a ton of broken bones, at the very least.
So far throughout our hike we’d had a few rain showers, using banana leaves as umbrellas. Now however, there were no more showers, just a downpour. Through this we made it to the bottom of the falls. While enjoying the view, which was incredible, we couldn’t help but dread the answer to ‘how are we getting back up to the top?’ To our monumental disappointment our fears were confirmed. The only way back up the mountain was the exact way we came down.
Going back up the sheer mountainside was pretty much the worst thing ever. Imagine the worst, most exhausting workout of your life and then double it – at least.
My second fall of the hike I think Karma played a hand in. Earlier in the day (during lunch after our morning hike) I made a comment how I was glad I didn't 'pull an April.' Which means going for a walk before dinner and coming back all muddy . . . because you fell down . . . in the mud, or in our case, falling on the trail and getting all muddy. Needless to say, this comment was followed by peals of laughter from me. Fast forward to going back up the mountain, in the pouring rain. There was a particularly slippery spot where even our guide had trouble. I started up it and even with his help I still ended up dirtying my pantaloons! (ok, in reality they were jeans – for any of you who look up the real meaning of pantaloons)
It was a really hard struggle to the top, complete with frequent breaks, dread of the climb remaining, and many attempts at self-motivating internal cheerleading. I was so tired afterwards! My clothes were drenched and muddy and we were all soaked to the bone.
I think it’s safe to say that this is an experience I will never forget, and truth be told never want to repeat. But hey, it makes for a good story!