Unlocking Kilimambogo; The village tree Prunner.
Fire wood was gold if you didn't have trees planted along your fence in the village in Central Kenya. Climbing indigenous trees was part of my upbringing and my contribution to the course of having a meal in our house. It was a resource to have boy in the compound who could climb trees and prune them. It meant parents didn’t have to pay someone else to do it with money that was hard to come by. This was a tradition started by my grandmother to survive after my grandfather went ‘up’, like my grandmother says. Left with seven kids to feed, my father happened to be the young boy at the time so he had to be courageous and cautious enough to climb up a 70 foot tree ,cut down all branches that would later be stored to dry for cooking and get down safely with no gear but a panga, your bare feet and hands .If the tree was mature enough for pruning, it didn't matter how twisted the branches were or how tall it was, you had to find a way to the top. I grew up seeing my father pruning. If you didn't know how to climb trees and prune, my grandmother would usually get disappointed with you.
That tradition was passed down to me by my father when I was young. My mother would ask my father which tree was ready and I could try to climb. Try because, sometimes I succeeded and other times I failed. It was a matter of experience but also a measure of resilience. My cousin who was my age was capable of pruning a tree I couldn’t and vice versa. It wasn't always fun to climb them. There were occasions you would come down brutally scratched or having slashed your feet with the panga.
Regardless of the pain and the boring work of carrying the firewood, I was always fascinated by the view I got of the newly constructed Mt Kenya Plaza in my hometown of Kianyaga and Mt. Kenya itself. Although I admired its artistic ice peak, there was no fascination of climbing. There was story we used to be told by my grandmother of Munyau, who had climbed on top of mount Kenya to ‘plant’ a flag as she called it and he died up there. That information distorted our every thought of climbing the mountain.
I had been fascinated by the idea of travelling to new places though since I was young but Mountain Climbing hadn’t been one of them until recently when I told my friend a random idea I had about my objective of the new year. I went to work and told him I wanted to do more outdoor. I could have easily told him what I had been planning for the past two weeks, which was to visit the National Museum as my outdoor Kick starter but when I opened my mouth, I said something different and which I hadn’t given thought before. I said, “This year, I want to Climb mountains” Although, I have to admit I have been watching a lot of 4k aerial drone shots. The views from a birds eye in 4K resolution is magnificent and mind blowing. Land scape by mother nature and human beings. All of a sudden, I had yearned for that feeling, the feeling of being at the top filled with adrenaline, and having been a very trusted tall trees ‘prunner’ back home in the village, it couldn’t have been more surreal.
Growing up in the village I hadn’t heard about mountain climbing. Tree tops were the highest points my cousins and I had ever been and to us that had been enough.
Either by design, fate, coincidence, destiny or life itself but four days later a friend of mine texted me something I couldn’t believe. He had just started his tour group for reasons only him knows. The first trip was to climb Mt. Kilimambogo in Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park. For a minute I was confused about what that meant. Conflicted whether its nature giving me an opportunity that I wanted at the moment or as a test to see how committed I was to doing what I had said I wanted to to. It was a walk and talk moment, an experience of chance.
The following few days were a contemplation of the decision to make. It came at a time when I have been trying to tap into myself and start creating something of my own. I needed an anchor to help me loosen up after a tedious first four weeks of January that have been confusing with all the unpredictable weather. I needed to get out of the routine, refresh and focus on my creative aspect.
The conflicting question answered and decision made, I was looking forward to getting out the house and go out there to network ,an important investment today. An opportunity to get in a head space to tell my stories through blogging.
Mt Kilimambogo hike on Saturday 29th, January was the trigger to start.
The only unanswered question was whether the chronology of these events that preceded the hiking moment, those that came during and after the hiking were a Coincidence, Fate, Destiny or just Life.
Find out on my next article…..