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Author Topic: 2017 - Pigs in Kenya  (Read 10721 times)

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Offline Osadabwa

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Paraglider Hill Continued...
« Reply #100 on: November 19, 2017, 08:18:20 am »
Our plan was to get off the highlands and back down into the Rift Valley. Unbelievably, though born and raised in Kenya, Bwana has never been to the top of Mt. Suswa, so it was my turn to show him something new. First, though, he wanted to take a small detour down to see the ruins of the original Kenton College prep school (a colonial relic built near Kijabe Hill in 1924 on the site of a former German Sanatorium… I Googled it, Bwana) and take in the view from Kijabe Hill, a grassy knob separated from the escarpment, staring straight at Mt. Longonot and Lake Naivasha where paragliders catch updrafts.




Above: Paraglider Hill in the background

It was obvious someone took care to make things well back in the day. A shack, clad in humble corrugated iron sheets still stands, faded decorative wooden trim and all. The large structures at Kenton have almost completely returned to the earth, however. A process I’ve always regretted… someone needs a brick for their house, so they take one. Maybe some roofing sheets? Go ahead, it doesn’t belong to anybody. Before you know it, Roman Marble adorns St. Peter’s and Kenton College holds up a duka selling tomatoes. Alas.


Above: The remains of Kenton College Prep School, Kijabe

Having sufficiently tripped through history, it was time to scale the Hill. Bwana wasn’t sure, but he reckoned there was a road to the top (something easily verifiable with Google Maps or asking chaps along the way, but why bother) so we began our ascent. The road was big, then less big, then it was a track, then it was no more. But we’d committed, and actually I was enjoying the challenge. We were attempting to ascend in a cork-screw fashion through the grass, occasionally stumbling upon a thin goat path. The views of the valley below were stunning, and the Pigs were grunting happily along, all torque and thump.


Above: Bwana on the corkscrew when it was still a path


Above: On the corkscrew, but no longer a path


Above: Amazing view through the haze over the rim of Mt. Longonot

We were making decent progress for a while, but the vegetation and topography turned against us. Initially, the ground cover was low grass and the hill was less steep. Having gone all the way to the other side of the hill, however, we found a rather different situation. Large tufts of tussock grass made it almost impossible to keep riding, and the angle of the slope had increased noticeably… It would have been a fine intermediate ski slope in other climates.


Above: Bwana contemplating next moves


Above: Bwana on the horizon, coming through the tussock

Eventually, we had to turn back… a maneuver easier said than done. I decided it was best to just point the bike downhill and ride a smooth arc back the way I’d come. Bounding over the tussock, I managed, but the prospect of getting it wrong had my heart in my throat. Not wanting to abandon the summit, I stubbornly summoned my strength, found a place with decent footing and aimed straight up. Thumping along avoiding rocks and shrubs and generally holding on for dear life, I found a flattish spot and took a rest with the summit in view. It took awhile before Bwana emerged over the knoll – he’d taken a more direct route through some stones – but before long we’d both scrambled our way to the summit where we celebrated by taking in the view and munching a Camembert and avocado baguette.


Above: Smiles at the summit!

We didn't see anybody paragliding, but here's a video somebody took from that exact spot. Shows the hill very well.


It had been hard going, and we were knackered. By now we knew we wouldn’t reach Mt. Suswa, so we decided to descend the hill and see if we could ride down to the road below. Again, the road was good, then it was not, then it was no more. At some point it became clear that the only choice was to continue descending, because the prospect of climbing back the way we’d come was unthinkable, so we pressed on. Eventually, we spotted the railway, which in a pinch could be our lifeline out (if, of course, the train didn’t come), but reaching it, we decided to jump across and keep following the fall line.






Above: Either Bwana is listening for a train, or planning to do himself in

I crossed the tracks first and essentially fell off the other side into a hell of rolling bowling-ball sized and bigger rocks. Goats and erosion had fooled me into believing it was a track. It was tough going. I tried all the proper riding techniques, but just couldn’t keep on two wheels. I’d roll up on a rock with my rear tire and it would promptly roll sideways, knocking me off balance and into some other obstacle. To make matters worse, I looked up and saw Bwana toodling off in another direction, having obviously found a much easier track!


Above: My rock garden descent… ain’t no picnic on a Pig, but I did it!

Separated, it took us a minute to figure out where the other was. I eventually connected to a lovely singletrack and descended down to the valley floor where Bwana was waiting. It was after 2pm, we’d gone less than 90 km and we were totally shot. It was time for a drink so we bee-lined it for Mai Mahiu and took a load off.




Above: Arrived alive

At 3pm, it was time to part ways. I for Nairobi, Bwana back up the hill. I had two choices: Take the tarmac and be home in an hour, or ride the dirt of the valley and be home in two. I took the latter, without hesitation. Knackered as I was, I will always ride dirt if given the chance, and it was well worth it. The road I picked had been essentially abandoned since the Chinese have improved a more direct ,parallel one, so I was all alone.It was essentially smooth sandy hard-pack, so I could just fly. The sinuous flow of the road reminded me of a late season skiing in Jackson Hole... making my way to the top of Rendezvous peak and skiing the whole 5000 vertical feet to the bottom in one long go, carving through slushy moguls down the Hobacks all the way, alone apart from the afternoon sunshine. Brilliant.


Above: Afternoon valley view



Home at 5pm, 200km in the day, fully satisfied and still buzzing.

 :snorting:
« Last Edit: November 19, 2017, 08:26:49 am by Osadabwa »
 
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Offline Osadabwa

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Gatamaiyo Forest - Last ride of the year
« Reply #101 on: December 14, 2017, 03:27:40 pm »
Bwana wanted to explore some tracks in the forest, so we packed fishing rods on the XRs and set off on a Wednesday (there’s nothing quite so sweet as a weekday ride). In advance of the ride, I slammed a few tracks into my GPS from a quick look at Google Earth to help guide us to the entrances and we took off. Part of the plan was to find likely spots for potential wind energy on the ridges, so we climbed up and down grassy hilltops and through old pine plantations. It wasn’t hell-bent-for-glory type riding, but it was lots of fun picking our way among the tree stumps and sheep.












Above: Much of the hillside riding was open, with big views, but some of it was tight and tortured; thorny bushes tugging at our clothes…



Following a new road down the hill through dense indigenous forest, we were a bit disgruntled to find that it didn’t continue through, dead-ending 3km from the next road. A lodge was being constructed to service a forest adventure park up the hill a ways, giving guests access to the rivers nearby. We parked the bikes at the construction site and went down on foot to explore. Bwana tried his fly in the murky water but didn’t have any luck. Lovely spot though.



Later on, having navigated some of the villages and tea estates East of the forest, we tried our luck on a track I found on Google Earth which promised a transect of the forest. It started out promisingly enough, and afforded us access to another stretch of river which again yielded no trout, but eventually the greenery smothered the track and we were forced to concede defeat.






Above: One of several downed trees in the path… good thing Bwana carries his hand saw


Above: Our overgrown track joined a more well-trodden one which brought us outside the Rhino Arc gate above the tea estates.

We emerged from the the claustrophobic forest to the gilded afternoon light shining dazzlingly off the patchwork quilt of the tea farms. Without forest cover, the tea estates accentuate the terrain wonderfully, and we dropped into some very steep and narrow paths in our search for a passible track. One in particular was stunning: the red clay of the track contrasting brilliantly with the emerald of the tea, and nestled deep in the shadowy valley a 20 meter waterfall could be seen careening over its edge.





Tracking and backtracking along, we finally linked together enough rideable tracks to lead us again back into the forest. It was now 6PM, 45 minutes of daylight left, so we blasted it. As luck would have it, the track was big and, though a bit tricky with dust in spots, quick enough for us to make good time. Back at Bwana’s house, the beers were cold and the fire crackling. A good end to a great day!


Above: Not a half bad way to end the year
 

Offline aka.Goliath

Re: 2017 - Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #102 on: December 14, 2017, 11:49:47 pm »
Very nice riding. Thanks for the report. Always a good idea to have a saw and something to cut wire when on the bike and especially out in the bundus. 
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Offline bud500

Re: 2017 - Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #103 on: December 15, 2017, 08:26:26 am »
Incredible terrain, dramatically contrasting to much of your previous riding.  :thumleft:
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Offline pietas

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Re: 2017 - Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #104 on: December 15, 2017, 08:41:03 am »
That is the beauty of Kenya. Completely contrasting landscapes in different parts of the country. Suppose you could say the same about SA
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Offline westfrogger

Re: 2017 - Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #105 on: December 15, 2017, 08:49:03 am »
Always enjoy your stuff, thanks for the tales and photos.  :thumleft:
 

Offline steveindar

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Re: 2017 - Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #106 on: December 15, 2017, 08:49:19 am »
Those sheep were looking a bit nervous....
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Offline Osadabwa

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Nervous sheep
« Reply #107 on: December 15, 2017, 09:58:53 am »
Steve, it's understandable. I ran over a sheep not long ago on the Pig... it went okay for the pig, but not so much for the sheep... and yeah, Bwana has Irish and Kiwi roots, so there's reason for sheep to keep distance!

To the rest, thanks for following along this year. Hope next year we get to see some new territory!

Cheers
 :snorting:
 
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Offline Oubones

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Re: 2017 - Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #108 on: December 15, 2017, 10:56:22 am »
I appreciate your posts and old Levi should make it to your side of the country one of these days, He is not getting there very fast. :ricky:
Have a nice year end and looking forward to next years riding!
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Offline steveindar

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Re: Nervous sheep
« Reply #109 on: December 16, 2017, 08:08:17 am »
Steve, it's understandable. I ran over a sheep not long ago on the Pig... it went okay for the pig, but not so much for the sheep... and yeah, Bwana has Irish and Kiwi roots, so there's reason for sheep to keep distance!

To the rest, thanks for following along this year. Hope next year we get to see some new territory!

Cheers
 :snorting:

Should have taken Tigo along to sort out the sheep  :pot:
#Nipplecaps must fall!!!
“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” ― Mark Twain


 XRV750 Africa bike, KTM 525EXC plastic Africa bike, BMW1150GS Civilization bike; TY250Z Footup's ??? VFR750 Potential off-road hooligan bike!