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hiking in the shadow of Batian

Dwarfed by the imposing, rocky mass of Batian – the pinnacle of Mt. Kenya, which towers over the landscape – Point Lenana seems at first blush an insignificant objective for would-be mountaineers. Felice Benuzzi refers to Lenana as a “hiker’s peak” in No Picnic on Mount Kenya, displaying more than a hint of disdain. After failing to summit Batian, however, Benuzzi considered himself rather fortunate to be able to hoist the Italian colors atop Lenana. In fact, the trek up to the top of Point Lenana – the highest one can ascend Mt. Kenya without roping in for a technical climb – is both demanding and rewarding.

pt-lenana

At 4985m (16,355ft), the top of Lenana is half a mile lower than the summit of Kilimanjaro, which is still significantly higher than the tallest mountain in the continental United States (Mount Whitney in California’s Sierra Nevada is 4421m/14,505ft). While on Kili we had five days to acclimatize to the altitude before making our summit bid, the camps on Kenya are fewer and farther between. We reached base camp by the second night, gaining 1760m (5775ft) in the process.

mackinders-valley

In addition to the altitude gain, this also meant that the hikes between campsites were significantly longer. On Kilimanjaro, we hiked an average of 3-4 hours each day; and when S climbed Kili with her dad, they spent two extra nights on the mountain, further cutting down the distances they hiked each day. This was not a luxury we enjoyed on Mt. Kenya. For instance, we spent close to seven hours on the trail to cover the 14km, a lot of it uphill, from Old Moses Camp, where we had spent our first night, to Shipton’s Camp, from which we made our summit bid.

nelion-and-batian

The dullness of the Sirimon route, which we chose to ascend because of its relative ease, belied the beautiful landscape that awaited us at Shipton’s Camp. From the trailhead, we had hiked the 9km to Old Moses on a road so dusty that it turned D’s feet black. From Old Moses, the trail turned towards a series of undulating hills and valleys that were as wearisome as they were unremarkable to behold. At last, after several hours of hiking through coarse heath grass, we emerged at the head of Mackinder’s Valley, which led to the base camp. After the monotony that preceded it, Mackinder’s Valley overwhelmed the senses. In addition to offering breathtaking views of Mt. Kenya, the valley resounded with the chirping of sunbirds. It was also filled with wondrous plants: giant senecios, giant groundsels, and giant lobelias, the latter of which gave the impression of serving as the inspiration for some of Dr. Seuss’ characters.

Tall, slender, and somewhat frumpy on the outside, the giant lobelias have brilliant colors hidden beneath their soft, shaggy fur.

Tall, slender, and somewhat frumpy on the outside, the giant lobelias have brilliant colors hidden beneath their soft, shaggy fur.

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61 Comments Post a comment
  1. lijiujiu #

    How beautiful the pics are!
    Thanks for sharing.

    April 5, 2012
  2. Photos and mountains – the best!

    April 5, 2012
  3. Great photos you took,I already changed the picture of my desktop. :)
    What camera do you have pictures?

    April 5, 2012
    • We use a Nikon d7000 – thanks for the positive feedback.

      April 5, 2012
  4. Rei #

    Reblogged this on Defender of The Light's and commented:
    how beautiful picture are, uhm delicious :)

    April 5, 2012
  5. lidwinamelisa #

    Beautiful pictures!

    April 5, 2012
  6. looks stunning. Was it really hot? :)

    April 5, 2012
  7. Nice :DDD

    April 5, 2012
  8. great dear. excellent work

    April 5, 2012
  9. Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing.

    April 5, 2012
  10. It looks amazing.

    April 5, 2012
  11. Lotto Results #

    Very nice pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    April 5, 2012
  12. promotecomputerreview #

    Nice pic.

    April 5, 2012
  13. nice !
    and welcome to my blog:http://yingyingxue.blogspot.com/

    April 5, 2012
  14. I don’t know which is more beautiful — the prose of your description or the pix!

    Stunning work…

    :)

    April 5, 2012
    • Thank you! So much natural beauty should not be kept to oneself – it is a pleasure to share it with others :)

      April 5, 2012
  15. that’s crazy awesome!

    April 5, 2012
  16. Great photos of beautiful scenery!

    April 5, 2012
  17. In a way, it reminds me a bit of some mountain scenery I once saw in Arizona. Wonderful photos.

    April 5, 2012
  18. Wow! My breath has been taken. Brilliant photos and your writing is beautiful and evocative. I would love, love to visit that area of the world someday.

    April 5, 2012
  19. Thank you for sharing your adventures and these beautiful photos. I used to travel and hike a lot, too! I am finishing up school this year and hopefully, I can resume my travel adventures next year. I would love to see this place someday.

    April 5, 2012
  20. Thank you for sharing your adventures and these beautiful photos. I love hiking and traveling, too! I would add this to my list of places to visit.

    April 5, 2012
  21. carol #

    How gorgeous! I don’t think I have the endurance for that kind of hiking.

    April 5, 2012
  22. Beautiful, I only wish I had enough money for a trip to Africa…

    April 5, 2012
  23. Now that’s a hike!
    Good for you!

    April 5, 2012
  24. Amazing pics. :) Thanks for posting. :)

    April 5, 2012
  25. thanks for the wonderful visuals

    April 5, 2012
  26. Jealous.

    April 5, 2012
  27. John Saddington #

    Reblogged this on 8BIT.

    April 5, 2012
  28. So beautiful! You took me there with your photos.

    April 6, 2012
  29. Awesome!

    April 6, 2012
  30. Belas imagens, parabéns!

    April 6, 2012
  31. Belas imagens, parabéns.

    April 6, 2012
  32. Wonderfull !!!!
    try a trip to Indonesia :)

    April 6, 2012
  33. My favorite was the shot of the plant….fantastic shot!

    April 6, 2012
  34. Love the pics!!! I am a hiker (well part time for the moment) and seeing these makes me welome spring even more. Great hike!!

    April 6, 2012
  35. Beautiful photos, and a nice narrative.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    April 6, 2012
  36. Awesome Shot.

    April 6, 2012
  37. very nice pic’s..

    April 6, 2012
  38. So beautiful!

    April 6, 2012
  39. Really there is no word to explain the beauty of nature. Great blog.

    April 6, 2012
  40. Really there is no word to explain the beauty of nature. Great blog i found here. Thanks for sharing

    April 6, 2012
  41. Very nice, Places I can only dream of hiking!!

    April 6, 2012
  42. Great post. The photos are amazing.Thanks for sharing. :)

    April 6, 2012
  43. I love those photos :-) great shot dear!

    April 6, 2012
  44. Sarah D. #

    Wow. Mountain climbing is about as far off my range of possibilities as anything I can think of, so it’s fun to see what you are doing. Love the Dr. Seuss plant!

    April 6, 2012
  45. ogm………amazing

    April 7, 2012
  46. nice shot

    April 7, 2012
  47. It’s like the Rockies without snow!

    April 7, 2012
  48. Nice snaps..beautiful locations

    April 8, 2012
  49. so smart

    April 8, 2012
  50. Don’t you have some pictures from the top of the hill?

    April 8, 2012
    • We do, stay tuned – more pictures coming in the next post.

      April 9, 2012
  51. nice place.

    April 11, 2012
  52. Damn right!

    April 15, 2012
  53. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

    July 9, 2012
  54. 台北平價住宿 丰居旅店 #

    Nice!

    September 17, 2012
  55. Huey #

    Appreciating the time and effort you put into your blog
    and detailed information you present. It’s good to come across
    a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed information.
    Excellent read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

    December 8, 2013
  56. Designer Handbags #

    Incredibhle story there. What happened after? Take care!

    January 1, 2014

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