Climbing Up A Misty Mountain

When I was growing up in Kenya, I had the opportunity to climb Mount Longonot, a shapely, dormant volcano sitting quietly on the bottom of the breathtaking Rift Valley escarpment. The mountain was not all that difficult to climb and no special equipment was required. It was more like a hike if you compare it to an intimidating mountain like Mount Everest. But what I remember most about it was the mist that swirled around us as the guides stealthily led us up the mountain.

Every so often, we would hear the crack of pebbles rolling down the steeper areas of the mountain which had been eroded over time. It was hard to get our bearings. The guides instructed us to stay close together and if we ever lost sight of the person in front of us due to the mist, we were to speak loudly enough to regain contact with the group and ensure we had not become lost.

After what seemed like an eternity, we finally emerged at the top, the mist evaporating. I will never forget the view of the interior of the volcano. What had seemed to be a very dry, drab mountain from the exterior had a lush, thriving interior filled with trees. It was like a hidden paradise waiting to be discovered by those willing to push through the mist. As I turned around to take in the view surrounding the mountain, it was simply spectacular. The Rift Valley rolled away from us on every side. The ground under our feet flashed in the sparkling sun due to the rich, glassy obsidian rocks scattered all about. As  we rested and ate, I was in no hurry to climb back down the mountain. I simply wanted to take it all in and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Mount Longonot in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya. Image courtesy of
Mount Longonot in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya. Image courtesy of

Interesting facts about Mount Longonot:

  • Its name is derived from the Maasai word oloonong’ot, meaning “mountains of many spurs” or “steep ridges”.
  • It is thought to have last erupted in the 1860s.
  • The mountain is home to various species of wildlife, notably zebra, giraffe, buffaloes, and hartebeest.