First sight of Ras Dashen - it's the right-hand peak on the furthest range in sight (just left of centre). Oh, and there's some Geladas in the foreground.
Rough night’s sleep leads to a creaky start but, all things considered, the aging body is feeling quite willing. Today we trek on to our first summit – the jutting promontory of Imet Gogo. Allegedly, the views from here surpass the ones from Ras Dashen’s summit. We happily meander along the rolling hills until we reach the beginning of the high rocky outcrops and the first of the truly stunning views of the park below. A countless series of peaks stretches as far as the eye can see. Reminiscent of grand canyon scenes but pock-marked with agriculture and really impressively green. I sit for a while with DJ and PC until RL and JW catch up. We drop our packs (PC stays behind with them) and head for the summit. A couple of short awkward scrambles later we’re on the summit ridge and enjoying truly magnificent views of the park. The escarpment we’re on is monumental in its stature and its beauty.
Wandering back to the packs, I wait for a while for the others to arrive then realise I’d rather wait further down listening to the Geladas moan than listening to the humans chat so I set off ahead
A view from the top of Imet Gogo
of the others. A bit of time hiking alone, some space with the mountain and my thoughts is welcome as I leave the others to share experiences with the American couple and other random hikers. The trails to Imet Gogo have been too busy for my liking but most hikers come as far as Imet Gogo and then head back, avoiding the vast drop into the next valley and the long hike up to the summit of Ras Dashen so the trails are likely to get quieter from here on in. The road is still a near constant presence though and there are more than enough local villagers dotting the trails to mean the type of mountain tranquillity I crave is hard to come by.
We trek on over the undulating peaks of the escarpment and arrive at Chennek camp. Approaching the camp, more local village children appear trying to sell their wares and beg for money (birr). PC has a stern conversation with them, asking why they are not at school. Education is free here now and that is a wonderful thing but these children are expected to contribute to the household – going to school deprives their
family of the opportunity of a little more - precious – income. Free schooling may not cost anything but lost income is expensive.
There are outdoor showers at the camp (RL braves one) but the water in the tanks doesn’t last beyond the first two hikers. A wash and a change of t-shirt is welcome before RL & I head for the prominent hillock nearby. After a short ascent, we find a concrete seat atop the hill and (having inadvertently scared off another tawny eagle) sit for some moments enjoying the grandeur of the views before us. The soaring, rocky cliffs of the escarpment stand proud above the myriad of hilltops thousands of feet below. Villagers mill around the hikers below us but they cannot be heard from here. Up here, sitting still, drinking in the green, watching the clouds tease the summits, I experience the first slice of tranquillity since arriving in this beautiful land.
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