Opening my eyes, I was staring at the ceiling of our tent as I felt my hipbones crackling against the cold, hardened volcanic earth. The sides of the tent were pink like the tip of my nose, and I smiled. I knew I had plenty of crisp, breaking dawn to enjoy before we set out on the trail. When you’re trekking, your body synchronizes itself with the earth. You become drowsy with the setting of the sun, and you wake energized and excited, oblivious to your caffeine addiction which exists in the real world. There is no grumbling, no hitting of snooze buttons, no suit and tie. You have only your basic needs to fulfill; the rest is your private dance with nirvana.
As I crawled out of the tent, I rolled up my sleeping bag and tied my scarf around my head. “Let’s go, Sean!” I whispered, and pulled him into the frigid morning air. At 11,000 feet, there is not much atmosphere between you and the sunrise.
We had breakfast, which consisted of coffee, tea, bread with jam, and even pancakes! (We were trekking in style, remember?)
Our morning shadows at Gitch camp.
As we set out on the trail, the heat of the sun quickly warmed our skin. Our first goal of the day was to summit Imet Gogo, at 12,881′. I had read that it would give us a 360 degree view of the Simiens!
As we near the summit, we began to play hopscotch among the boulders. I loved the rock formations in the park, which were created by volcanic activity and then eroded into such fascinating shapes.
By around 11am, we had reached the top of Imet Gogo. Sean snapped this panorama of me (click on it to expand on a new page) as we were taking in the sights. I was in awe of the vastness of the landscape!
We ran into another group hiking, and asked them to take our picture.
Another panorama, this time of Sean. He’s on an outcropping slightly below the summit. I was at the top, taking his picture from above. This is also a great photo because you can see the next leg of our journey in the background. If you look at the wide-faced slope directly behind Sean, we were going to hike all the way to the top of that, and then to the highest peak you can see behind it. Our second summit wasn’t terribly high, but we had to hike all the way down into the valley between the two peaks!
Our way down from Imet Gogo…
A beautiful view along our trek. (Click on for full pan.)
Our trusty scout… always guiding our way. There really is no reason for the scout to carry a rifle, except that it’s solely for tradition. We had nothing to fear the whole time we were hiking.
Another gorgeous view of the cliffs of the Simiens.
Can you spy me? Rounding the bend of the trail.
This was our second summit, Inatye at 13, 353′. It was higher than Imet Gogo by a little bit. The peak behind me looks deceiving because Sean is shooting down to capture my picture. We were higher than that peak in the background, which is very deceiving from this picture.
Sean on our way down from Inatye.
More beautiful views….
Don’t fall over the edge!
Me pointing at the summit of Imet Gogo.
Again, our fantastic scout. All he slept with at night was the pink blanket he wore over his head during the day. Not to mention he hiked the whole trail in sandals. That guy was legendary.
Sean and our scout at the end of day 2. I wished more than anything that I spoke Amharic, because I am sure he had some amazing stories to tell.
Washing my face at the pump at our second campground, Chennek.
Sean’s dirty, dirty legs. Everything was so dusty because it was the end of the dry season. That is not a tan line, but a dirt line. Isn’t it the worst!
As if climbing two mountains and capturing beautiful vistas wasn’t enough, we sat down in the middle of a troupe of Gelada Baboons.
I kept my distance from this guy…
Demiss, who had no qualms about making friends with the baboons.
He quickly made me feel comfortable with being near to them.
We want to post this on his webpage for him! “Travel with Demiss, and have the time of your life!”
Lunch time for the little lady…
Abby and Demiss, just hanging out with one of the baboons. It seemed that she loved the shadow of Demiss’ leg!
Up close and personal.
Same message around the world, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.” Will do, Ethiopia. Will do.
Our camp at Chennek. It was truly gorgeous. The mountains in the background are the peaks Sean and I were hiking around the day before.
One final view of where we hiked. It was really one giant fantasy world.
I have one more post on Ethiopia to share with you. We visited Addis Ababa, the capital city, on our final day. Then we tearfully boarded our plane back to Kuwait.
While I write this, I have only 43 days left here in Kuwait. I better start snapping some pictures for another blog for you!