The walk from Uhuru Peak to Gilman’s Point is slow and surreal, and we stop for tea at Gilman’s Point, stretching out, pouring hot tea from flasks, sipping deliberately, sighing with happiness, joy, relief. Hamsa and I don’t want to use up too much breath so we gush to each other with our eyes; our guides watch on in amusement. The tea is over but we don’t want to get back up and start walking again, although we really should; it’s high time—no pun intended—that we descend from this absurd altitude. “Let’s get our twende on,” Hamsa says. Alright, I agree. Let’s do this.
Descending is double the fun in half the time, double the pace and half the pain, double the oxygen and half the snot, double the disbelief that we actually summitted and half the painstaking reality of marching ahead one step, one breath, at a time.
As Saint-Exupery writes, “nothing can match the treasure of common memories, of trials endured together, of quarrels and reconciliations and generous emotions,” and everyone we encounter on the climb down, back in Kibo Hut, and on the walk back to Horombo Hut we greet like long lost family and encourage like cheerleaders on steroids.
Walking near-vertically down the steep slope that we crawled up and cried over just that morning, we leave entrails of dust behind us as more rocky slope comes into view. I almost become frustrated at one point: where the hell’s Kibo, dammit? Why are we still walking? But I can’t complain; I’ve been lucky enough to reach the top with no complications, and I’m going to be grateful for each easy step I have to take to return to thicker ranges of oxygen.
After a brief stop at Kibo Hut for lunch and more hot tea, we continue onwards to Horombo Hut. I remember the view, having walked the same path the previous day, but it feels completely different now that I’ve touched heaven. I’m moved to sing—good thing I’m walking ahead of Hamsa and Katana, and well behind Hosea!
Walking on flat ground leaves room for reflection: there are so many words and there are also no words to describe what I’ve just done. Surrounded by so much nature, so much sky, so much openness, so much potential, so much air to breathe, so much of everything—where is the room for language? It’s just amazing to experience something this big, that you climb for days and days!