The Sleeping Warrior and Ugali Hills peaks are located in the Great Rift Valley, in Gilgil, overlooking Lake Elementaita.
The hill is 2200km high and resembles a man lying on his back, hence the name “Sleeping Warrior”. The hill used to belong to the local Massai community, but was later taken over by the Soysambu conservancy.
The history of Soysambu spans the last century and is closely linked to the Delemare’s, the first and probably the most important names in the farming industry in Kenya.
Soysambu, in Maasai, means “the place of striated rock”. During the pre-independance era, there were a lot of missionaries who came to the area to spread Christianity. Legend has it that a Maasai Warrior was laid to rest there.
Access to the hill is now granted by paying exorbitant rates to the conservancy. Something we only became aware about once we were at the base of the hill.
Our drive to Gilgil took nearly 2 hours and by the time we arrived at the base of the hill we had already walked for over an hour. Unfortunately because of the rains, the path used to access the summit has been slightly washed away and was muddy, rendering it impassable. This meant that we now had to climb along the “Chest” of the warrior, a more vertical angle and pave our own way to the top.
After a break at the flatland base, we began our climb close to noon. This was already a bad sign as the sun was already overhead, and it was getting hotter.
We had to grope on grass and shrub to make our way up. There was no clearly defined path and that made it difficult to navigate one’s way. Although, by choice I choose to remain behind with the “Less Seasoned” climbers, I found myself wanting to get to the top, before I gave up on the entire idea.
This was by far the worst climb of my life. The heat was unbearable, the sun was blazing, and to make things worse, I had a dip in my sugar levels, so I climbed half hill yawning like a bafoon!
There was a moment where I sat down for a while, waiting for the others to catch up, who were just a few feet behind, but with the way I was feeling, I realized If I didn’t make a move and if my sugar dipped lower, they would have to carry me up the hill, so I continued ahead, in solitude.
I experienced a number of “Fuck This” moments. It was terrible climbing at such a vertical angle, then having to deal with shrubs and funny plants that smelled of lemongrass and had a funny sticky liquid extract when you squashed them (best things to hold on to when trying to hurl yourself up!) It was all such an ordeal, but then turning back and looking at the views across of the lake, I gathered confidence to keep moving ahead one step at a time.
Finally I made it to the top and was greeted by the majority of the team (did I mention there were 18 brave souls who took on this adventure). It took nearly 45mins before the last of the team reached the summit, spent, exhausted and not in the best of moods.
Anyhow, what counted was that we all reached the summit. With the exhaustion, non of us could eat. So the facilitator who was with the last group decided to conduct the presentation of certificates for the last climb and we proceeded to take some pictures before beginning our descent.
Unfortunately, because of time constraints and over-exhaustion of some of the team members, we could not climb Ugali hills. We made our descent in an hour, having met a black mamba on the way, and with a few injuries (twisted ankles) and were just in time to reach the bus before the downpour hit us.
The drive back was longer because we hit the Highway during peak traffic, and we had people getting home at 10pm.
All in all, people had fun and enjoyed the challenge. I could have said otherwise, but the deed is done, and that is one hike checked off our list.
Let us see what the next one presents!