Nate and I seriously discussed climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro while we're here in Africa, but unfortunately the cost is a bit prohibitive. Instead we opted for a mountain that straddles the Ugandan/Kenyan border - Mt. Elgon. Our guide book describes it as "a mountain that has never really caught on with hikers...partly due to security problems but its also probably the case that Elgon lacks the popular mystique of Kilimamjaro, Mt Kenya or the Rwenzori." Regardless, we loved it! We covered roughly 45 miles over 3 1/2 days with our friend Brady - another volunteer at eMi. The Uganda Wildlife Authority requires that hikers travel with guides and guards, and highly encourages that you hire porters to help carry your luggage. So our party of 3 quickly turned to 9. We definitely enjoyed the company of Jimmy and Tom, our guides. One of my favorite memories from the trip is hiking behind Jimmy as he marched along with his gun and a large cabbage that he held by the root.
We each carried our own backpacks but the porters carried most of our food and our 2 tents. At each of the 3 camps we slept at along the way, there were pit latrines and a shelter where our entourage would make a fire and sleep. It was really nice to arrive at camp each evening and have a fire burning within minutes!
If I had to sum up the trip in 10 words or less, these are the words I would choose: challenging, beautiful, muddy, peaceful, awesome for our marriage, rainy and cold. While we don't at all regret hiking up Mt. Elgon, if we could do it again we'd definitely go during the dry season.
Not to sound too cheesy, but another favorite memory is simply walking along singing worship songs and praying silently. I did this to distract myself especially during the stretches of the hike when my body was just aching (or 'paining' as they would say here in Uganda) or I was horribly miserable due to the rain.
Speaking of praying, some of you have been asking how you can pray for us. The main thing we're wondering about is where we're headed next. For a while we were praying about staying in Uganda longer, but currently we're feeling like we should come back to the US. Nate is waiting to hear back from 4 more grad schools, but even once he hears from each he still needs to find specific funding/research. So the main question we have for God is whether or not grad school is a go and if so, where.
Stay tuned for more! Sarah, Dan and I are running the Kampala 1/2 marathon in 3 weeks. Plenty of running, yoga and spinning between now and then should get me good and ready!
Love to you all,