Day 7 had a reputation of being brutal. Not only was it 16 km of hiking, which is more than double what we had done previous day, but there was about 500 m of climbing and about 1500 m of steep slick descent. We started our day at around 9:00 am in our gum boots as usual. It had rained the night before. We heard the thunderous roar of the storm overnight which rattled the huts as it rolled in. It was still drizzling that morning and we knew we were in for a muddy day.
I still had my mud boots that were just a little bit too big, even with Sam’s extra soles. This resulted in a rough start to my morning. I kept getting stuck in the deep mud and Jay would have to help me pry my boot out as I used all my might to pull myself up. It took so much more effort to pull my boots out of the mud and it was exhausting. I also kept falling down and by about an hour into the hike, I was already wet and covered in mud.
Sam suggested that Jay walk behind me so that I could set a little bit slower pace. So I walked directly behind Henry. I watched his every step and put my feet exactly where he did which helped a lot with me getting stuck in the mud.
After a big climb we were high enough in elevation that we hit snow. There was about 2 inches on snow on the ground when we reached Oliver’s Pass at around 12:30.
After the pass was a very tricky section. It was a steep boulder field covered in snow. For the past week, Henry and Jay has been telling me to “trust the gum boots” on the rocks. However, they were always able to stay upright and I was the one that kept falling over, so I was hesitant to step on the steep slick rocks. I instead proceeded to scoot on my butt down the rocks which felt much safer, but left me with a very wet butt.
After the boulder field, we had finally descended enough to get out of the snow.
But after the snow fall two days ago and the enormous amount of rain last night and today, the rivers had swelled and were raging. Of course we had to cross these rivers several times to get down the mountain. On one river crossing, I slipped and went for a little swim in the river. Fun Fact: the Rwenzori Mountains are the source of the Nile River. Now at least I can say I’ve been swimming in the rivers that feed the Nile.
After I fell in the river, Henry and Jay were extra careful about me crossing the river. Henry showed me every rock to step on and held my hand across.
As we trudged through the mud, water, and boulders, I joked with Jay that I was like a horse on roller skates. I just couldn’t seem to stay upright. It was a long day for us, but we finally arrived to camp around 6:10 pm.
We faired much better than some others though. Henry told us a story about a client who was in her 60s, coming to the river crossing in the pouring rain at around 11:00 at night with 4 hours of trekking left. So even though we were tired, we had a pretty good day.
Thomas, the South African, faired much worse as well. He had fallen and hurt his back on the snow covered boulder field. He didn’t make it back to camp until 11:00 pm. Porters were going out to bring him warm tea and food just so he could make it in. But in the end, our whole group finished up day 7 which lived up to its brutal name.