Maasai Rocks – 2019 Kili Initiative # 14

After a quick lunch of sandwiches the Kili Initiative squad headed to the Maasai Rocks to learn climbing techniques. The footpath was typically dusty and the sun was high in the sky, however the temperature was pleasant on the high equatorial plain. I lagged behind the group as a rearguard against a lion attack. While I still thought I smelled okay, the rest of the team had nominated my stench as # 1. I didn’t argue the point, because at 66 my body exuded a more malodorous fragrance than when I was as young at the young people ahead of me.

“Mzee.” Someone shouted from a rock outcropping and I smiled for Mzee was a term of endearment for an old man. At least I imagined it was and I walked to the squad wrapped by an overwhelming happiness and I mentally thanked Tim Challen for inviting on this trip.

I climbed atop the rough stone stump with ease. I was only old in years. My body was still strong.

JM was instructing the team in how to properly get into the climbing straps.

“You can only do it standing.”

It looked dangerous to try it any other way.

Fast Steve was tightening the straps and checking the gear.

I looked over the side of the cliff.

The drop was a good eighty feet or more.

I had climbed the Quincy Quarries as a teen, but was glad there was only enough climbing harnesses for the team and guides.

Young Steve, Jackman, and I sang BUFFALO SOLDIER with Larry as the beatbox.

Bob Marley was a saint in Kenya and most everywhere else in the world.

Vanessa didn’t like her smile, but her gleamed in the sunlight.

JM asked if everyone was ready.

They all said yes and I agreed.

All I had to do was take photos.

Jackman made it up and down.

None of it looked easy.

Larry gave it his best.

As did his sister Laikyn.

Maureen struggled up the face.

Ubah got pretty high.

Young Steve reached the top in less than two minutes.

He was only 22.

I had been that age forty-four years ago.

I was much older now.

Nathalia was also successful.

JM said everyone had done well.

“The most important thing is to try.”

“The key to triumph is in the first syllable,” I stated from the shade of a tree.

“Then why don’t you try?” asked Young Steve.

“Don’t mind if I do.”

I strapped into a harness. Six men manned the lead ropes. I weighed over two-hundred pounds and not all of it muscle.

My ascent was slow. The rocks were hot from the noonday sun. The six men struggled with my weight like I was a small refrigerator filled with beer.

My arm strength was deplorable.

My feet slipped and my knee smashed into the jagged rocks. Blood ran down my leg. JM shouted, “Enough.”

He was wrong. Enough was more than enough.

I was happy to be on the ground.

We had a good laugh about my attempt.

And I had a good scar to show for my defeat.

A mark of triumph, because I had tried knowing the outcome before I tried it.

We walked back a tighter group than before.

We were the 2019 Kili Initiative Team.

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