I have an odyssey ahead of me, an arduous odyssey, an odyssey of pain and endurance, fear and terror, life and death. Break of dawn it is. The unhospitable May breeze touching my skin bestowing me an uncomforting frisson and ravens releasing a traumatic shriek to my ear a sound like a train attempting to stop. Nature’s morning greeting. I strap my crimson red helmet which kisses my forehead
guaranteeing me safety from the big challenge before me. The morning dew reeks of dead challengers of the provocation before me but I am audacious.
I am ready.
I start my ascension from a hillside which is rather sloppy in the beginning. The side of this mountain is covered in a small forest of trees locally known as Mukwa.These trees are incredibly high and thick; their knotted large roots cut the ground here forming natural footsteps that make walking the terrain a little bit easier as if nature is on my side.
Auspiciously, the morning precipitation is clear after thirty minutes of hiking and the air is now fresh and clear – the lack of humidity gives the cliffs and buttes sharp lines in addition, the colours of the earth though muted stand in unambiguous relief to the blueness of the sky. I hear a soothing sound; it must be a slow moving stream and I rush to it for a drink. I am already exhausted. It is the tastiest water I have ever drank: it smells of moss, the soil is subtly sweet and is so cold and clear- dipping my stained hands in it seemed like a crime.
Physically I am drained, but emotionally I am psyched. I have just cleared the forest and walking along a slope with over grown shrubs. The ground beneath my feet is changing its hue, but I am not paying attention to it. The rain has started; it is slippery, and I’m having a few slips and tumbles, I’ve just realized I am walking on quick sand.
The first few steps feel like walking in mud; and it’s dancing in my boots. I gradually sink and I’m now waist deep. I am panicking and start to feel hot as the blazing sun starts to braai my face and all my cuts and bruises begging for serious attention but fortunately, there is a branch nearby, and somehow, I manage to reach it and pull myself out; still my clothes are covered with clay. I am now cold and wishing I was home but this is assumedly better, right? As I proceed, the slope is gradually becoming steeper so walking turns to climbing. Instead of clay, there is mostly shiny white stones and spiky branches, I grab the dry green shrubs nearby to help myself climb. There is sight of a large Bat cave on my way to the top; outside this cave, I find many wild berries and strawberries naturally grown from rain and bat mature. Which are delicious!
I am a batman fan but my first ever encounter of a bat cave is not how I expected it to be. I took one look at the open mouth of the cave; its darkness seemed to envelope me in a never-ending fortress of mystic. The cave is my next challenger and my claustrophobia its ally.
I slowly stepped into the cave, around me is the sound of water dripping from the stalactites hanging above. My footsteps send an echo through the open space bringing a chill down my spine; probably the unseen result of the fact that the cave is fairly large. I hear the fluster of wings above my head and a small screech as a bat dive-bombs past my head, it’s hog-like face barely visible in the fading light as I step farther inside the beastly cavern. My foot suddenly catches on a rock and with a small shriek I fall to the floor; my hands landing on slimy limestone worn away by the ages of bat urine rushing through the cavern. I breathe a sigh of relief as I stand knowing I’m almost at the top of mount Mumpu.
The cave is possibly the most bloodcurdling and tranquil part of this trek but it isn’t the most exciting because there it is, the second highest peak in Zambia: breathe taking. The final climb is quite precipitous, and the sides were almost vertical drops. Falling off would certainly mean death. I tirelessly trotted along the pebbly path.
I reached the top! I did it. The three hundred and sixty-degree view is unreal. I feel a need to touch the sun, my heart is racing and my adrenaline is pumping. There are so many words to describe this feeling: sporadic, electrifying, astounding, profoundly moving, exhilarating and elevating. This experience generates an advanced form of perceived reality, and is even numinous and enchanted in its effect.
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