STORY OF MOUNT LONGONOT
story of two characters
who ventured into the crater of Mount Longonot
[ AND, without the aid of Coors, Tusker, or Bud-dumber ]
ago, there were several beer commercials that showed tough manly men who had just
done some brawny job and needed a beer. This is not a story of two guys who snuffed
out a volcano bare handed and had to have a Coors afterward.
story takes place in about 1960 when I was a student at Rift Valley Academy in
Kenya. The school was a boarding school for missionaries' kids. Someone in the
RVA staff organized a hike up Mount Longonot. Bob Capen and I decided it would
make a better Saturday than sitting in our dorm rooms all day, so we joined the
excursion. We all climbed a well worn trail to the top from the north side, which
is the direction from which you are viewing the picture (north being to your back,
and looking south).
Capen and I would have come up to the crater at the lower center of the photo.
We then followed the very top of the rim on a well worn path moving to the right.
At about the center of the right curve in the photo, we climbed down into the
crater where there is a steam jet. If you take along your potatoes and a lump
of meat in a mesh bag, you can cook your lunch by hanging it down inside the steam
jet, or so I am told. Bob Capen and I then crossed the bottom of the crater from
right to left right across the center of the photo. The plants in the bottom of
the crater were a pale dull green, and every plant, though technically alive,
broke as if it had died when we tried to use branches to steady ourselves. This
must have been due to the mineral content from the lava dissolved into the ground
ground was nothing but boulders, an average of five feet in diameter, all the
way across, and they were porous. We did not bother to stop and feel the boulders
as we jumped from boulder to boulder all the way across. We discovered, only after
reaching the far side of the crater, that the boulders we had been hopping over
were not ordinary pumice. The holes in the rock were about one sixteenth to one
eighth inch, and the edges of the holes were very sharp. The boulders were a form
of obsidian but porous. I had on a new pair of tennis shoes, and by the time I
reached the far left of the crater, the soles of the tennis shoes were paper thin.
It was a very close thing that we were not hurt by falling or our shoes wearing
had the notion that we could beat the rest of the hiking party as they walked
around the rim on the path on the top edge. Were we ever wrong. We were exhausted
as we tried to climb the far left of the crater. The bushes in the bottom of the
crater you see in the photo were actually trees about eight feet high. As we climbed
the rim on the left, we slid back two steps for every three we took forward, and
the brushes broke as we tried to hold onto them. By the time we made it to the
bottom of the mountain, the group we were with was very disgusted with us, for
they had waited for some time for us heroes to come gasping down the mountain.
out a better picture of the whole peak area.
Second good view.
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