Rwenzori Trek Day 2 – July 17th

The morning of day 2, we learned some of the idiosyncrasies of our trek mate Thomas. He woke up very early, turned on his headlamp and clumped around the hut in his boots. Thomas did not seem to grasp his disturbance despite our polite requests for him to leave his boots off on the hut. So, we tried to sleep as long as we could, but eventually couldn’t sleep anymore with the noise. 

Every morning, the porters and guides made us a breakfast starting with porridge and then would follow that up with eggs, sausage, toast, or pancakes. They were once again ensuring that we would not go hungry. 

But we needed the energy, because day 2 was much more difficult. I think I had a false sense of confidence after the first day because day 2 kicked my butt! We left Sine Camp at around 9:00 am and were faced with almost constant steep climbs and scrambling up rocks. 

We made it to Kampala Camp at around 10:30 am. Kampala Camp used to be the first stop on the trek instead of Sine Camp, but previous parties were becoming exhausted and affected by the elevation gain, so it was changed to stop at Sine Camp the first day. After Kampala Camp, we climbed some more and stopped at the lunch spot. Despite the difficulty of the steep climb, today was one of my favorite days with the multitude of unique plants and walking through the clouds. 

Henry, our guide

Eventually, Henry advised us that we should switch from our hiking boots to our mud or “gum” boots which we found out later was great advice. Here is where we got our first taste of the Rwenzori mud. Little did we know that there would be much much more to come. Luckily, there were some ladders, boardwalks, and planks to help us along and give us short, but needed, breaks from the mud.

All of the boardwalks, ladders, huts, beds, etc. were carried up to their sites by porters and guides and assembled. Henry said, that they did leave some areas without boardwalks on purpose. When asked why, Henry said it was because the type of clients that hike the Rwenzoris want the true experience. I understood that, but was grateful for the extra help.

We ascended through the Bamboo zone and the Heather zone and saw the changes in the vegetation as we ascended. The total climb was about 1000 meters. 

Bamboo zone

We arrived at Mutinda Camp at about 1:40 pm. Like the day before, the porters provided us with some tea and snacks. 

Porters

Then we decided to do the optional climb up to Mutinda lookout. It was and extra 400 m of climbing and was very difficult with steep slick rock climbs, ladders, and ropes.

It started to sprinkle making everything slick, and we were basically climbing up a stream that was flowing down the mountain. I was ready to turn around, but Henry encouraged us to keep going. He told us we would turn around after 30 more minutes of climbing.

Turns out that he tricked me and we were at the top before the 30 minutes were up. Henry was very good at pushing me to keep going while still helping me when I got nervous on the rocks. He showed me where to step, held my hand up and down slick parts, and was extremely patient. I was glad to make it to the top of the lookout although we did not have much of a view because of the clouds. The hike also helped us to acclimatize for the higher altitudes to come. 

Mutinda Lookout
View from Mutinda Lookout
Waiting for the clouds to clear

Once we made it to the top of Mutinda Lookout, we still had to make it back down. On thing. I learned about the Rwenzori Mountains was that the descent is always as hard or more difficult than the ascent.

We were still in our gum boots because they were extra grippy on the slick rocks. However, my gum boots were a little big, and they got easily stuck in the mud. When we got back down to the mud section, I ended up slipping out of my boot and stuck my sock directly in the mud.

Luckily, we were almost back to camp and I just washed my sock out in the river. Henry was very accommodating and dried it by the fire they used to boil water. After a dinner of chicken and rice and our nightly briefing, we went to bed early again. 

The trek is quite the mental game. Each night, we would reflect on the day and think about the days to come. I learned that it was best for me to just take it one day at a time, and address each new challenge as it came. It gave me a huge sense of accomplishment each day to know how much we had climbed despite the difficulty of the terrain.

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