Mau Escarpment Solo - In Deep
Another sunny day in Kenya! Plan this time was to rip down the tar to Mt. Longonot, climb it, and ride back on the rocks of the Kedong. A bit of cross-training to improve my fitness. Try to firm up this Dad Bod I've been cultivating lately. I set off after the school drop-off and was in Longonot in an hour flat. At the gate there was a lot of hubbub and I later found out it was because there was a bush fire in the crater which made some think Mt. Longonot, a long dormant volcano, was erupting… muppets. Anyway, I was getting dressed and realized I’d brought two t-shirts and no shorts to climb in (another muppet) which just meant I’d have to ride my bike all day! Braaaapy accident I guess!
Above: First thing I did was hit the tar again for a bit before sneaking across the bush to the Naivasha S. Lake Road. I bee-lined it to the Ranch House for a big breakfast to power my day.
Above: Eggs Florentine and a cappuccino anyone? I guess BMW riders would call it a day at this point...?
My plan was to wing it. I didn’t have my GPS because I wasn’t planning to ride new stuff, so I set out to climb as high as I could into the Mau Escarpment between Naivasha and Narok. I took the usual track out of Kongoni and got myself onto a nice path pointing up. A kid herding some heavily loaded donkeys coming down said: “No way in Hell, Mzungu” or something to that effect. As they passed, the donkeys nearly knocked me and the bike off the trail. Dismounting, I hiked ahead a bit and sure enough… very steep, very narrow. I had to lay the bike on her side to turn around (my inner Jarvis was overruled by my actual skill level… there was a precipitous slope to one side with a soft shoulder) and backtracked out of there.
Above: Leaving Lake Naivasha behind
Above: The start of the promising but ill-fated track
Above: My turn-around spot. I’m glad I met the donkey guys here. It was wide enough for my graceless retreat
Unbeknownst to me, there were folks down below watching my travails. They waved me down as I passed by and directed me to the track I sought. A lovely, decent road that switchbacked up the face of the escarpment and popped out by a duka with a large, grassy viewpoint. I stopped to take a pic and the lady of the duka told me her place is a perennial launching point for paragliders who come to take advantage of the updrafts. She's looking for a Western sponsor if anyone is interested. I, sadly, had to decline.
Above: The paragliding spot high about Lake Naivasha
I was bimbling along enjoying the sunshine and cool air (nearly 3000M up there in places). My plan was to descend to the Narok Road, hopefully on interesting new tracks. The one I was on had a lot to say for itself. There was nobody around and the views were huge. Of course the reason the views were so large is that the area, now a huge grassy meadow, used to be dense indigenous forest. Sometime, somebody came through and clear cut it down to the stumps. Oddly, nobody seems to do much with the land now either. It’s a shame and a waste, and an environmental disaster. The watershed that the trees once held on this escarpment has been badly affected and now rivers in Masai Mara dry up for parts of the year as a result. We can blame climate change for the real affects its having here and everywhere else, but local mismanagement is the primary cause of coming suffering in Kenya.
Above: The Mau Escarpment forest… RIP
Farther down the hill, I had my eye on a parallel ridge I wanted to climb to. I thought I could see a decent road over there and started asking boda riders how I could get there. They wanted money to take me, but I just wanted them to point and I’d go have a look. Eventually somebody pointed straight down into the valley between the ridges and I blindly went for it. It would be an interesting experience.
Above: Hmmm… pretty steep going. Can’t quite see what I’m getting into down there either. A man herding cattle came by and told me it would be fine, but he was one of those meek rural folks who would probably agree that you could ride up a tree. I was skeptical, but also committed, so I pressed on.
Above: Farther down, the path is still descending. I can see the road I want on the other hillside but I have to get there first.
Above: The cattle path descends to the river. Some guys on the other side of the river were telling me it’s fine, but was starting to think I’m being punked.
Above: I’d have to ride down there and then go around the corner to the left. Too far to walk it, so I went for it. I reasoned there are enough guys here to lift me and the bike out if need be. Just a matter of how much to pay ‘em.
Above: The river was a trickle but there were logs in it that made it more tricky. Then there was the matter of climbing out the other side. It was steep my friends! But the soil had grip for days and the Pig has low end grunt to match, so I made it no problem. It's sections like this that make not having an e-start exciting. You've got to clear it! Makes you a better rider no doubt.
Above: Triumphant Piggy
That was about enough excitement for the day, so I began to pick larger tracks to take me back down to the Valley floor. They’re all good choices. The main tracks are more beat up, so eventually I ditched down a secondary option that wound past villages and fields to the Narok Road.
Above: Stopped to let a pickup go ahead of me… he couldn’t hear me behind him and the cloud of dust was impenetrable. Nice shady spot for a break. Notice the maize fields going straight up the hill in the back. When it rains hard, all that soil goes into the rivers, then into the lakes… and we wonder why the lake levels have risen...
Above: Farther down and closer to Narok the agriculture is fodder and grain focused. Larger tracts and commercially prepared. This is a wheat and barley area, and apparently some sort of grass fodder as well.
I kicked out on the tar between Seyebei and Ntulele, ripped into Ntulele for a quick White Cap Lunch and then zipped down to the SGR to take me home. By now I was made of jelly. The SGR which is rough at the best of times was trying to kill me today. I only paused to have a look at the place that messed up my foot a few weeks back.
Above: Quick road soda at the SideView Bar in Ntulele
Above: Just a couple of cocks
Above: Site of my foot injury. I misjudged the depth of this rut. As I came in with speed, the suspension would have compressed, slamming my foot and footpeg into this concrete-hard dirt, twisting it back and smashing it into the swingarm. Again, thank goodness I was wearing proper boots: Sidi Crossfires to the rescue.
Above: Home at 4pm. It was 300km and 7hrs of riding.
You just can’t beat it!