Finally the group get off the mountain and are ready to start their R&R phase. However, today was not to be as stress-free as they had probably thought that it would be …
Day 23 – 7th August
This morning camp was packed away much quicker thanks to the aid of our nimble-fingered Ugandan porters. Having packed, we were eager to march on so we could finally get off the mountain and relax.
Today’s trek is known locally as the “mud-slides”, and this soon became apparent as the majority of the group attempted to recreate an amateur production of Bambi on Ice. At first I did well in staying upright (although I slid all over the place and on numerous occasions skied several metres on one leg), but eventually I succumbed and toppled over like the rest. The joint winners of the ‘who can fall over the most” competition were Josh and Gavan with 3 each, although honorable mention must go to Sam who snapped an aluminium walking pole in half whilst vainly attempting not to fall. To alleviate the stress of mud skiing, Craig and I discussed possible adventures I could have in the future, along with his many exploits, whilst sharing his tube of Victory V’s.
At long last the end came in sight; the gate loomed in front of us marking the end of our trek and the beginning of the R & R phase. We tipped all of the guys who helped us on the mountain, including a generous extra something for the 2 cooks and our awesome head guide Alex. We met a representative from the Crow’s Nest hotel who arranged for a flatbed truck to come and pick us up. We chucked our bags into the back and piled on top as tightly as is possible. Several people then jumped in on top for the ride.
After about half an hour we ground to a halt behind a lorry that had rolled over.
Deciding that the lorry wasn’t moving the driver ran somewhere to fetch more fuel so we could go the long way round. The sun was beating down hard as we drove for miles through the countryside in the hard bed of the bumpy truck.
Sunburned and sweating we arrived at the Crow’s Nest and unloaded. I carried my bags up to the dorm I will be sharing with Chris, Gav and Matt H and then headed downstairs for an accounts meeting with Callum and Craig. Having worked out roughly how much we had to spend on food Cal and I gave a briefing on how much dinner could cost and everyone placed their orders. Unsurprisingly everyone ordered spaghetti with tomato sauce and garlic bread, except Andy who ordered something else to be difficult.
It was at this point that our world turned upside-down when we discovered Chris had lost his money belt with all of his money and his passport. We spent an hour completely searching everything in his and Gavan’s bag, and everywhere else it could possibly be until we established that he had definitely lost it. That means that unless it turns up by some miracle, he and Andy are going to Kampala to get Chris a new passport, missing the entire week of R & R, at great expense. We knew that action had to be taken, so Andy and I hitched a lift into town from a passing taxi driver. It was pretty tight with 4 people in the back seat, but I was preoccupied with cheering up Andy who is going to miss white water rafting through no fault of his own. We arrived after an interminable squashed journey to find a group of seemingly identical shops. Eventually we located an appropriate S.I.M. card for what we needed and headed back. The taxi driver randomly bought us some delicious corn on the cob for no extra charge. When we got back we bumped into Alex, who had run all the way from home when Simran called him and explained the situation. He is going to run up the mountain and sweep the last campsite we stayed in as Chris’ last hope.
When we returned dinner was served. As penance Chris was dishing out plates and fetching drinks all night. The spaghetti was amazing after a week on the mountain. We held another accounts meeting to determine how much money we can afford to give Andy and Chris to get to Kampala.
Tonight has been whiled away playing cards, it feels great finally returning to normality. We are all crossing our fingers that Alex has good news tomorrow. The stars tonight were the clearest any of us have ever seen, and we stayed up late watching them.