I want to give a shout-out to my youngest brother, Daniel, for successfully conquering Mt. Kenya for the second time!
Mt. Kenya is the second highest mountain in all of Africa and absolutely gorgeous. It also holds a special place in our family because Dad has taken every single one of us kids up the mountain around the time we were 12 or 13. It’s kind of like a coming-of-age trip.
Prior to my own climb at age 12, I had often seen Mt. Kenya’s snow-capped peaks jutting into the sky and I had read an amazing book about three Italian prisoners of war who escaped prison camp in 1943, climbed the mountain, and then turned themselves back in, just because.
But of course, that was nothing compared to being on the mountain itself for three days.
We hiked for hours, Dad and I, climbing endless hills, passing funky lobelia plants, and occasionally stopping to drink from the sweet, icy water flowing straight from the glaciers. The night of the final ascent, I was so nervous and excited, I thought I would never fall asleep, and when Dad shook me awake just before 3 am, I was ready to go. We took it easy, stopping often to rest and suck on KSL candies. I remember, though, reaching a point when I was so exhausted I didn’t think I could go any further. Dad just sat with me, encouraging me, pushing me onward one step at a time. I wouldn’t have made it to the peak without him.
The sun was just coming up as we reached the top and I can remember the sheer elation of feeling like a conquerer of mountains. After a few pictures, I ran most of the way down to Shipton’s camp, slipping and sliding in the scree, and beating Dad back to our bunks. When he caught up to me, he gave me a good Dad-sized hug and I remember he had tears in his eyes as told me how proud he was. It was one of the happiest and best moments of my childhood.
So, thank you, Dad, congratulations, Daniel, and here’s to Mt. Kenya!