Curated East Africa Tours
Tips & Inspiration: Travel & Self-discovery

“The Elgon within”

4 min read

I was prepared. More than I’d ever really been prepared for a trip. I don’t know what else I could have done to prepare myself more. My preparation was holistic. I prepared practically – I bought everything that I could that would come in handy for the climb. Hiking boots, some new track bottoms, warm socks and beanies. I even pulled out that raincoat that I never ever use. I packed a big furry winter jacket just in case and I borrowed a Massai blanket, a strong day backpack and an extra power bank from a friend. I packed everything.

I prepared physically as well. I joined a group of mountain climbers, The Mountain Slayers, to climb Mount Wati in Arua, earlier in January. Mount Wati (1,400m ASL) was my first ever mountain climbing experience, intended for me to get a feel of what I should expect. Since Mount Elgon is a much bigger conquest (at 4,321m ASL), Wati was the dress rehearsal, and I loved it! It made me more expectant. I prepared in the gym too, three times a week to be exact. Every time my thighs and calves would screech with pain and soreness from an intense workout, I told myself “Perfect! Now the pain from Mount Elgon won’t be so bad…”

I prepared mentally. The mental preparation to me was the most vital of the three. I told myself I could do it. I told myself I am strong and I am capable and my mind and body combined can do a lot more than I usually give myself credit for. I promised myself that I would surprise myself. I looked forward to the surprise. I couldn’t wait for that moment when it was all done, when I was back from the mountain and I would say, “I did it. I climbed Mount Elgon.” I looked forward to the feelings I would have. More so, because I didn’t know what exactly it would feel like or what exactly would be going through my mind and how exactly I would be changed. I knew though, or at least I told myself, that it would be good.

We didn’t go (to Mount Elgon that is). The trip, the big climb, was cancelled by its organisers at the very last minute, a couple of hours before our set departure from Kampala. Right now as I type, we would have started our hike, the first steps of a four-day expedition into the unknown. When I heard the news that was so devastating to me, I tried everything all day to find a way to make it work. There had to be another alternative. I wasn’t going to give up. Not after I was ready! As I went through my workday, I frantically made a number of phone calls, hoping that something would give. Something had to give. Evening came, nothing had given, and that’s when it sank in. I had a different mountain to deal with and to conquer and this one, I definitely hadn’t prepared for. Disappointment and frustration built up inside me. I was SAD. Suddenly, it’s the Easter weekend and I have no idea how I’m going to spend it. I have mountain climbing gear in my car backseat and suddenly, it’s irrelevant. Useless at that moment. I didn’t see this one coming and it created a mountain of sorts inside of me. It created The Elgon within.

I called my Father to confirm that he was leaving for Mbale, my hometown, early this morning, as he had earlier mentioned to me. Confused and unsure, I joined in. At least I’d get out of town, I told myself. Heck I’d be closer to Mount Elgon. Who knows, something might give? As we drive to Mbale right now, I’m reminded that life doesn’t always go as planned. It seldom does. People will disappoint us. We’ll learn to be more cautious. Goal posts will shift. Promises will be broken. Sometimes, it feels like you have a whole mountain inside of you to climb and deal with. Make sure you climb it. The view is always worth the climb.

Conquer The Elgon within.


Have you ever had a similar experience where you had to deal with a great amount of disappointment over something you had prepared for, for a very long time? How did you deal with it? Do share your thoughts with me in the comments below. Xx

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