We woke early on day 2 and I’m happy to report I felt a lot better than I expected I would. It’s amazing how our bodies repair themselves while we sleep. My muscles were aching and I was quite stiff, but wow, was I expecting it to be a lot worse! I was actually even excited to get back on the trail. Maybe I can do this after all.
Ms. Anastasia made us a hearty breakfast, which we quickly consumed, saving the bread and bananas for our daytime snack. I stuck a few Band-Aids on my newly formed blisters and we were out the door and on our way up the steep hill leaving the town of Cyimbiri.
We hadn’t even made it back to the main trail yet and it started raining. Noooooo. Who hikes the CNT during rainy season? Ummm, apparently we do. We stopped and pulled out our rain gear. J had a raincoat and I had an umbrella. J calls his raincoat a cagoule, have you ever heard of such a thing? You British people crack me up. Sometimes, I swear we are speaking different languages! I can never remember the word cagoule, so I call it a Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. Anyway, J let me where the Kigali what a gentleman and he used the umbrella and we hovered under a tree while the rain poured down.
After about 20 minutes we realized we might never make it to the next base camp if we tried to hide from the rain all day, so we just charged on. It rained pretty steady for about 3 hours, but surprisingly, it wasn’t that terrible. Our pants were soaked through and our boots were wet, but our upper bodies were mostly dry.
I think actually it turned out to be a blessing that it was raining, because if it had been full sun with excessive heat all day, I don’t think I could’ve done it. I’ve always been sensitive to physical activity in the sun; I get terrible headaches and will occasionally pass out, so I wasn’t complaining too much about the rain. It might’ve been my only chance at completing this hike.
The children came from far and wide to join us on the trail. Oh joy. We’d be walking, seemingly all alone and we’d hear in the far off distance, “Mzuuuungu” coming from high up on a hill to the left, then we’d hear it again coming from down below on the right. We’d look all around not seeing where they were and then all of a sudden they’d be right next to us on the trail.
Not surprisingly we handled the kids better in the early mornings, but once the fatigue started setting in after several hours of hiking they felt like clingy shadows we couldn’t escape. I actually felt terrible about not being as friendly as I usually am with them. Off the trail, I love interacting with them, I really do! But on the trail…
I think the children living near the CNT may grow up with a skewed view of us mzungus. They’ll think we’re all grumpy and mean looking. But you don’t understand, we’re so tired and our bodies are screaming. We couldn’t possibly put smiles on right now. I’m sorry, I’m sorry!
To our surprise, we came up to the next base camp sign after only 5 hours of hiking! Woohoo!!!! What does that sign say? The base camp is 3 km off the trail? Are you freakin’ kidding me? Who designed this trail? I think I will write a strongly worded email! We walked the long 3 km almost completely downhill towards the lake and the base camp. OMG I’m gonna’ be cursing this steep uphill in the morning! Grrrr.
We made it to the Kinunu base camp, our clothes drenched and our toes water logged from the long day of rain. We hung our clothes to dry and had ourselves a beer.
As annoyed as I was that the base camp was 3 km away, I have to say I was grateful that the trail was set up with these designated pit stops. They provided us with a room each night along with dinner and breakfast. That meant we didn’t have to carry a tent and only needed water and limited food for midday snacking. This was where Siggy and I went wrong back in August when we thought we were going to walk from Spain to Portugal. We had a tent and our full size regular travel bags – a recipe for failure. We only lasted one day and we hitch hiked part of that!
We slept well that night and although my body was hurting in places I’d never felt before, I felt accomplished making it two full days of hiking the Rwandan hills. I thought maybe, just maybe I could make it the full 91 kilometers.