It is a chilly morning as we stand opposite Mt. Meru hotel ready to begin our training walk. This hike is important for all of us who are planning to climb Kilimanjaro and Meru at the end of May. We brace ourselves for the worst weather, most of us, armed with a rain coat, an extra jacket, water proof boots and pants. We begin the walk at a few minutes past nine. The more agile amongst us take their position at the front while the rest of us do our best to keep up. The weather is fine and we are soon regretting bringing our extra jackets along. The landscape is beautiful; tiny hills rise and fall unevenly. The farms below us are a neat patchwork of brown and green. But soon we are too tired to notice the splendour around us; our focus shifts to the arduous task of putting one foot in front the other. Every once in a while we are woken from our selfish reveries by a ‘pole’ or ‘habari’ from a sympathising passerby.
The zenith of our journey is the beautiful waterfall surrounded by a man-made pine tree forest. The numbingly cold water flows on undisturbed by our presence. I suddenly feel guilty to be an intruder in the habitat that has clearly been saved from man-kind and his polluting nature. The water is clear as it flows downstream; we touch the pristine round rocks that make the banks. We relax here for a bit and for a moment we are one with nature. We forget how careful we had been to keep ourselves dry. Soon, everyone is waddling in water or standing beneath the waterfall for a cold ‘shower’.
The waterfall invigorates us and suddenly even the weariest amongst us all is oozing with energy. We begin the journey back in wet clothes and a happier mood.
We feel ready to conquer Meru and Kilimanjaro.