Images by Phil... and June
A Climb Up Mount Uluguru
Story by June Landrum. Photos by June Landrum and Linn Rhen

Behind the city of Morogoro, stands the Uluguru Mountains, stately and proud, never changing.

Sometimes we can’t see the mountain because it’s draped in clouds, or because the rain is coming down in torrents.But Mount Uluguru is always there;just like its Creator.Even though faith wanes or my pain clouded mind dims His Image—HE IS STILL THERE... more real and everlasting than this mountain...On this day, we climbed Mount Uluguru!

Our trip began at 7:30 am, escorted by Mr. Amani.Many people passed us as they traveled down the mountain, most carrying produce to sell at the market.A few were going to market to buy.The ladies carried their heavy burdens on their heads, and they were dressed beautifully in colorful skirts, tops, and head gear.About 30 minutes into our climb we stopped at one of Mr. Amani’s two mountain homes.

Here he lives part of the time with wife number one and their children.She was
cooking outside over an open fire, preparing hot cakes for us.They were delicious! The view from his humble home on the mountain side is priceless.Mr. Amani’s son, Juma (son with Wife number two, who lives on another mountain peak path) joined our hike.He walked in front, and Mr. Amani followed last.Now the hike got serious.
We followed the road until it was no longer a road.We took a “short-cut” path where the weeds grew higher than my head and the path was narrow.I felt claustrophobic, among other things. We climbed for long distances often at a 45 degree angle.

I’m telling the truth! At times the climb was so steep I had to use my hands to get myself up.I thought “What have I gotten myself into now?”

When Rick and Linn proposed this hike (they are serious hikers), I told them I was afraid I’d hold them back, hoever, Phil was on a trip with Edson and I had nothing else to do that Saturday;Rick said he’d walk behind and poke me with a stick when needed. There were times when I seriously thought he may need to use that stick!

The temperature and humidity rose higher and higher.
We saw drop-dead gorgeous scenery – waterfalls, terraced areas planted with various crops, really lovely flowers and trees. We passed a small Christian church where services are still held every Sunday.

We passed many mud and stick houses, usually with chickens and goats in the yard. In places the home owners had dug steps up the steep incline to get from their yard to their garden or a crop above their home. We always asked if we could use their steps and they always said yes. Children called and waved to us and we occasionally stopped long enough to give them candy, or a small bottle of liquid soap for blowing bubbles.

Laundry was laid to dry on some bushes. We passed a house with a fire and cauldron outside – Mr. Amani told us they were brewing beer and that it would be consumed that evening. He wanted us to be back down the mountain before the celebration got underway.

A group of young people from Canada passed us. With my eyes
swimming, ears pounding, thighs aching, heart pumping and lungs screaming we carried on--up, up, up!

From a distance we could see the peak where we were headed, but it still seemed so far away—and our path was not as the crow flies! Occasionally the path leveled a bit... far too occasionally! When we did stop for too short a break, I wanted to lie down but was too afraid of the creepy-crawlies in the grass.I kept thinking “Can’t they see I’m dying here?” But we just trudged on even through muddy low spots getting our shoes and feet soaked.
We took many, many photographs. At one point, the battery fell out of Linn’s camera and the hike was halted while everyone looked for the battery (everyone except me that is – I was huffing and puffing with my head between my knees trying not to throw up).

All too soon the quick-eyed Juma held up the missing battery. I was hoping for a bit more time to rest, but nooo—on we went.

FINALLY we crossed a stream at a small falls, and after 4 ½ hours from home, we were there!

“There” is a mountain peak called Morning Side, which supports a very interesting old stone building that was constructed in 1911 by a group of German explorer settlers. I am sure they used materials found on-site to build with. I just can’t imagine how they could have brought any of it up the mountain.

The sole inhabiant was an elderly man who apparently had the job of collecting a small fee from visitors.
The group of young Canadians that had passed us earlier had long been there and greeted us with such cheeriness and compassion I felt like strangling them.

One of their guides, Godfrey, wanted to practice his English and I seemed to be his target.He was such a nice kid and I really enjoyed talking with him but frankly I was just far too exhausted to discuss American politics and history about then.I took a nap. My pillow was a rock!

After I had aroused sufficiently we ate lunch. I was ravenous!I would have loved a steak and ice cream Sundae or such, but the peanut butter sandwiches, trail mix, apples and water we were able to bring tasted great.

We stayed at the top for 2 hours. I kept saying “I think I could stay here forever.” (They thought I was talking about the view, but what I was really thinking, was,"I can't possibly start that return trip yet.")
The trip down was much easier and faster – in fact we only stopped twice for short rests.I was amazed at how differently the same scenery seemed from the view looking down the mountain.

We reached the mud house where the beer had been brewing, and the consumption had already begun. We passed with haste and without incident. We passed more children and gave up more candy and bottles of soap bubbles..

Mr. Amani asked us if we’d like to meet his 92 year old grandmother. We said “of course”! So he led us up yet another 45-degree path, to a mud and stick structure with a tin roof.The room where she was staying had no windows.She was lying on a pad on the floor, smoking a cigarette!

Mr. Amani asked us to take her picture.   I gave her a piece of candy, which she clearly liked.

There was no one else living in the home with her and she seemed to be immobile.I really don’t know how she gets along.There was, of course, no electricity nor running water, but I was surprised at no evidence of cooking there.I suppose her family must bring food to her.

Again we stopped at Wife Number One’s house and had a banana. All of the
family was outside, and one of his beautiful daughters was having extensions
added to her hair, but she didn’t want her picture taken.

 


The hike down took only 3 hours. Mr. Amani asked us if we’d like to hike to
Wife Number Two’s house next Saturday, but honestly, I’ve had my mountain
hiking quotient filled for the foreseeable future!