|Metuke looking out over the Simien Mountains|
the second night of sleeping on the ground is better, as we already are getting used to doing so.
We eat our usually breakfast of an egg and some porridge prepared by Dinknesh, along with shay (tea) or coffee. Sometimes the simplest foods are the best. Paired with an out of this world, once in a lifetime view, this breakfast cannot be beat.
Geech camp is busy with activity as other trekkers wake up and emerge from their tents. The scout Metuke has already finished his breakfast and is eager for us to depart, I think because of the larger distance we will need to cover today. "An hit" (Let's go). I hurriedly stuff an extra egg into my mouth knowing this, and no sooner do we I finish chewing, we start off for Chennek camp. On our way there we will ascend to 14,000+ feet high point, cross a valley 2000 feet lower, re-ascend to 14,000, and then re-descend to 12,000.
Looking out over an escarpment, it seems we we can see forever. Metuke points straight across the valley to a faded and impossibly distant point on a plateau on the other side. Somehow we figure out that he is indicating that we are going there today. It's hard to be believe that we could walk that far in one day, and we decide just to not think about that.
We come across a few small groups of local children, excited to see us. As always the ask for pencils, money and plasteek, and some of them have various crafts and items to sell. We're not sure what they want with plastic bottles, but we know the people here are resourceful, and almost everything gets re-used in one form or another.
The ridge line makes a sharp turn to the south. We continue ascending, and as we round a bend we begin hearing the sound of water. The sound increases and we suspect a fwafwate (waterfall) is close by. Soon this is confirmed. A cascade streams into a canyon that is so deep that we cannot see the bottom. The feeling about such a special place is hard to describe, and we are so privileged to be here. Priceless.
A number of other trekkers have stopped to appreciate the fwafwate, and we meet some travellers on a north to south trip through the entire continent of Africa. In retirement, and on an African journey with no fixed end date, I can't help being a little jealous.
Continuing on we plod our way down into the first of the two valleys and emerge at the bottom two hours later. Ascending the other side, the grade and altitude combine to slow our pace. With stubbornness and patience we eventually top out. From the apex, Metuke points for the second time that day, to what seems to be another impossibly distant location, and says Chennek denkwan (camp). Again we try not to think about the distance and just put one foot in front of the other. Despite the distance (and our fatigue), the views nearly free of human presence also lift our spirits and we never get tired of looking at them.
Rolling into camp late in the afternoon we see our tent already put up, some of the same strange looking birds are scavenging about, and some hot tea is waiting for us.