Mountain of God

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June 15th 2007
Published: August 7th 2007
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Oldoinyo LengaiOldoinyo LengaiOldoinyo Lengai

Or in English, "The Mountain of God". I was walking so slow on the way down that Anthony wanted to know if I could go any faster at all .. I was afraid to go faster, so not to fall flat!
With the plans for the summer starting, we wanted to have a little bit of time with Joshua before the campaign started. As most mom’s and dad’s, we are thrilled to have Joshua home, under the same roof as us. “Uncle Sam” basically paid for Joshua’s trip this year and for that we are thankful. We wanted to have some time alone with him and do something cool that was different. The campaign is three weeks long and pretty much consumes the entire day, 6 days of the week. We didn't really want to go to another park ... plus this is in High season, so harder to find one that is reasonably priced. Brent Richardson told us about this Mountain climb. Suppose to be just a couple days trip, cheaper if we drive our own car, camp in tents, and take our own food. It is called Oldoinyo Lengai in Maasai and means “Mountain of God”. So, I start making the arrangements ... even found a tent and gear to use for free ... and the Safari service that Cy’s uses for the guests said I could even hire one of his cooks.

We left the house on Thurs
Mountain Climbers!Mountain Climbers!Mountain Climbers!

This was taken just as we were starting to REACH the main base of the mountain! As you can see it is dark, but there was a full moon and we didn't have to use the headlight until we nearly reached the top.
morning .. picked up the COOK ... for $10 a day he cooked 3 meals for us ... that was worth it for me!!!! We took our own food, and he did the rest. We drove for about 1 1/2 hours ... took a right off the paved road and then drove for about another 3 1/2 hours!!!!! All gravel, holes, sand pits .... fun ride. There were times when we drove through the sand that was so deep it splashed on the windows like water! We kept asking when we would see a big hill .. if THAT was the mountain we were going to climb ... finally it was in view ... we were in trouble!!!! It was an all out Mountain. Not a big hill … a MOUNTAIN! But not just any mountain .... a live VOLCANOE!!!! It is called Ol Doinyo Lengai. That is Maasai language and in English it means the Mountain of God. I did not do enough research to really be prepared .. but at this point, sitting in the car, looking up at it we didn't have a clue just what we were in for!! Look it up on the internet ..
On the way UP!On the way UP!On the way UP!

This picture was taken just as we were on the main base of the mountain. Joshua and Samwell are barely 5 feet from each other .. but look at the height difference!
This volcanoe is a big deal ..... lots of websites dedicated to it! MTSU has a whole website about it!!

Once we got to camp, we set up the tents, and they told us there was a "hidden" waterfall to go see and swim. It was HOT there … Achmed, the safari agent told us it was a desert like climate. HOT during the day and COLD at night. So .. since it was day .. it was hot! Joshua was up for that so he and I took off to do that while AB slept. I had only taken my hiking boots so since we weren't even to the hiking part yet I didn't want to get them wet. Joshua had to carry me across the river in several places to get to the waterfall ... good thing he’s been working out!  It was beautiful and he swam, I took pictures and then we headed back to camp.

Prosper, the cook, had dinner for us about 7 and then we were told that we were to get up at 11 PM to start the climb up the Mt. in the dark!! We knew about this part,
45 DEGREE Climb!!45 DEGREE Climb!!45 DEGREE Climb!!

We were standing straight when this shot was taken ... a very good idea of just how steep the climb was!!!
the heat is so intense that you would never make it in the day, so they climb at night when it is cool. We were told to pack a couple of backpacks, water, flashlights, jacket etc. We couldn't sleep, we were too excited, too hot and it was just 8 PM. We managed to sleep about an hour or so. We got up, ate some fruit and drove about 40 mins to get to where we would park the car. Our luck was with us and there was a full moon .... we only had to use the lights for about 30 mins near the top. Fortunately, Stephs mom had given Daniel one of those headlights to play with, and this was the light we used. There is NO way you can climb that mountain while HOLDING a flashlight!! We were given some VERY good advice by our guide, rent walking sticks!

From the time we got out of the car we were walking UP hill .... now ... not just casually up hill ... but the majority of the climb was at a 45 degree angle. It took us almost an hour to really get onto the Mountain
On the edge of the World!On the edge of the World!On the edge of the World!

After we got to the top, the first thing we did was take a picture !!! Then I sat down!
…. THANKFULLY we have with us a workhorse … Joshua …who ended up carrying two backpacks a good part of the way.

Near the top it went to about 60 degrees .... I have NEVER, in my life, done anything so physically demanding and exhausting in my life!! And I have always been the tomboy of the family. Jogging, riding bikes, some track in high school (where I NEVER won the first race - go figure!), I did win the girls physical fitness award for the Jr High 9th grade, and have even done weights here and again .. but nothing I have ever done compared to this. Anthony said the same thing and he played football, was on the wrestling tream and lifted weights. There was no swerving to climb at an angle ... it was up ... as if you were going up a flight of stairs that lasted longer than a mile!!!! But to make it worse ... it wasn't nice smooth concrete stairs .. it was loose gravel, sand, etc ... one step up and you slid 1/2 step back ... over and over and over ... my my calves were burning like you had
Into the mouth of the Volcanoe!Into the mouth of the Volcanoe!Into the mouth of the Volcanoe!

After we took our picture Joshua was quick to ask, "Where's the lava?" He walked down the edge of the crater rim into the moon like surface of the crater.
fire behind me. Nearing the top the magna that had over flown was embedded with stones that had been blown out. It was literally like climbing one of those rock walls at parks. Carefully placing your feet on the stones one after another praying my legs didn’t give out ... making your way to the top. All of this before sun up!!!!

We climbed and rested .. climbed and rested .... almost to the top Anthony's thighs started cramping .... we kept drinking lots of water, rubbing the cramped legs and finally he opted to stay put and said "someone is going to get to the top". I wanted him to get to the top too, I didn’t want to leave him there, but I know if he says he has to stop, he had to be hurting. We had rubbed his legs several times to try to loosen them up but no go.

It was such a hard climb that he and Joshua were totally drenched in sweat. We weren’t cold at this point, but knowing that he was going to be sitting there for a while, he took off his wet tshirt, put on one that
Don't look down!Don't look down!Don't look down!

Inside the crater were several crevices that made my stomach queasy thinking about the slightest slip of the foot!
Joshua had in his backpack, took my sweatshirt, a bottle of water, and Joshua relenquished the backpacks to stay with him. I gave him a kiss, made sure he was securely placed in the scrubbrush, and Joshua and I continued on up. We reached the top just after sunrise. There was so much cloud cover that the couple who had made it to the top before sunrise said we didn't miss much in the way of a sunrise. I really felt bad that we did not make it to the top before sunrise for Joshua’s sake. He was so patient with the two of us. He stayed right behind me the entire way up. I told him he could go ahead of me, but he wouldn’t hear of it. Another one of those things that brings tears to my eyes that he was there behind me - watching to make sure I didn’t fall, and there to catch me if I did. A reversal of roles don’t you think?

But just getting to the top wasn't the big deal about the volcanoe. Since it is active, we went down into the crater ... walked across and after a few
March 2007 Magma FlowMarch 2007 Magma FlowMarch 2007 Magma Flow

This is the floor of one of the craters where the magma over flowed last year. It was hard and bumpy just as you would expect it to be.
maneuvers actually got to see the magna in the volcanoe ... barely 15 feet from where we were standing!!!! It was black as coal and as liquid as water ... spewing and groaning like a lion beneath us. The sounds were more noticeable than the smells. We had to walk around a vent that I know would singe the hair on your head if you got close enough. I expected to smell sulfur or some odor. Having never been near a volcanoe I didn’t really know what to expect, but I really didn’t notice an overwhelming smell of anything in particular. The feel of the ground under our feet changed based on where we walked. There was a flow last March that left a hard rock surface much like what you would expect hardened lava to feel like, but if you stepped nearly anywhere else it was an odd feel. Not sandlike, but not mud. Sort of squishy when you stepped into it, but when you picked your feet up to take another step the ground did not rebound, it held your footprint precisely. Almost the way I imagined the moon surface to be like. We were hoping that if
Liquid MagmaLiquid MagmaLiquid Magma

I hope you can see this, it is black as coal and just as fluid as water!!! Swirling and spewing barely 15 feet from where we were standing!
we got there before sunrise, during the dark, that we could see the magma glow. We were told it doesn’t glow like most lava, but that didn’t make up the disappointment I could see in Joshua’s eyes that we wouldn’t be taking a picture with glowing lava behind him to show his buddies. We took some pictures, made our way back to the crater rim, and rested a bit before heading back down. At this point it was COLD!!!! The wind was biting and I tried to sit in a crevace of rock to keep the wind off me. I knew at this point Anthony was probably really cold. I had packed some mittens, and he said later that helped to keep his hands warm. A mom is always prepared!!!

The view from almost 10,000 feet can not be described!!! We were able to see the Serengetti, Lake Natron, and the Rift Valley Escartment went for miles! I tell you, God was on that Mountain!

I honestly do not know how I made it back down. My legs were shaking at nearly every step after that climb up .. and then to have to go DOWN .. well
Magna PoolMagna PoolMagna Pool

This was nearly close enough to touch with a 10 foot pole!
that is another feat ... The guide, Samwell, said it would be easier if I held one of his hands and then use my stick in the other hand. He was right. Just holding on to something helped. After we got past the rock wall, going down, Joshua and I slid down a good part of the mountain because you could not keep your footing in the loose sand and gravel ... we were covered head to toe in volcanic sand by the time we got back to camp. He ruined his pants sliding on the side of that mountain. Nearing the point where we left Anthony we could see the couple that had gone down before us and there was Anthony. He had recovered and had already started down. We started climbing about 12:45 am and reached the truck about 12:30 pm … we had been climbing up and down for almost 12 hours!!

As if it couldn’t get any neater, we had the privilege of sharing the mess hall area with 3 geologists who were there studying and doing research. Two were students working on their masters, and the third was their supervisor, Here are some of
Crater ViewCrater ViewCrater View

This is a direct view of the interior of the crater. I looks like the moon!
hte details he gave us:

This is the ONLY volcanoe like it's kind in the world!! To geologists he said it was the “Holy Grail” of volcanoes.

The temp of normal lava is 1200 centegrade ... this one is ONLY 550 or so centigrade ... thus one reason why the magna is black instead of glowing red.

The content of the magma is unlike any in the world. It is not thick and gummy like you see on the Hawaian volcanoes .. it is fluid like water .....

Most lava chambers are several miles below the surface ... this one is barely 10 - 15 meters below the surface.

It is rare that you would see the magna .... we got to see it ... and hear it!!!

It is nearing 9,800 feet high .... making it a relatively small mountain .. but according to our guide who has been a mountain guide for 14 years ... this is the hardest one to climb of all the mountains here .. INCLUDING MT. Kilimanjaro because of the intenseness and degree of the climb!! We thought if we started with the shortest we might get to
Down Down DownDown Down DownDown Down Down

It was almost nauseating thinking of the 4 hour hike DOWN .... but here we go, one step at a time.
one of the others ... looks like we won't have to climb any others as we've done the hardest one!! And I will tell you .... if you had told me I could be that exhausted I really don't think I would have believed you ...

Joshua on the other hand took it all in stride and followed patiently behind so dear old mother didn't fall back down the mountain. He could have been up and down in almost the time it took to just get up .... he went down ahead of us just to see if he could get the truck closer so we would not have to walk one step further! HA!!

Anthony has decided that he is going to get to the top, so we are planning to make sure we get in better shape and be better prepared the next time around. I have been to the top with one of my guys, now I want to get to the top with the other!! What more can a woman ask for than to be able to share something with the most important people in her life than less than 1% of the worlds’
View to take your Breath Away!View to take your Breath Away!View to take your Breath Away!

At the top ... we could see for miles and miles and miles!!!
population have been able to see. The Mountain of God …. He is definitely there!

Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


ALMOST to the truck!ALMOST to the truck!
ALMOST to the truck!

This was probably 100 feet from the truck and you see how far behind I am. My feet WOULD NOT go any faster!
One Last LookOne Last Look
One Last Look

One our way home the next day, we took another picture of what we had climbed. I am looking forward to doing it again! Really I am!!

8th June 2007

Girl, you are crazy. We went up to Glacier this past year and there is no way I am climbing that! Congratulations on achieving what you did. It is truly glorious up that high.
8th June 2007

The Mountain of God
Girlfriend, you are crazy!!!!!!!! Sounds like you are having fun! Love ya! Your friend Monica
8th June 2007

Girl, That sounds fun and terrifying all at the same time. I have terrible motion sickness. Wonder if I would be able to do it next time to come to Africa!!! If the ride getting there was as bad as you say, I might not even make it to the mountain............Go Girl, I'm proud of you. Valerie
8th June 2007

great climb
Shasta,Joshua,AB, that must have been out of this world so to speak, glad you had the energy to do that, hardly believeable...Love to all , Pa,
8th June 2007

Valerie, Well one of the reason's there aren't more pictures of us climbing as there are is simply for that reason ... you are standing at an angle to keep you from falling backward and when I would stop to try to take a picture I would have to hold on to something to keep from falling. It makes you feel very disoriented. But you'll never know unless you try!!!
13th June 2007

WE can say with ease , "We've seen the valleys". YOU HAVE SEEN THE MOUNTAIN and/or THE MOUNTAIN TOP. God seems to have a lesson in everything we experience. This is a thrilling non-fiction story. Thank you for sharing. Pam PS I can't wait to share these photos and story with Tom.

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