April 25, 2014

Walking, the Forest and Rain

Houston, we have a problem! I moved my leg and groaned. What on earth had I done… I racked my brain and couldn’t think of any particular time yesterday where I’d over stretched, or fallen and had the potential to pull a muscle. I rolled out of bed and groaned a bit more as I stood up. What had I done… My legs were like dead weights. Then it dawned on me. The ladder. Oh the ladder. Yes, I remember now. That 50-60m ladder with massive steps. I’ll bet that was the cause. I quickly and accurately assessed that steps were going to be a little more difficult to navigate than general walking, which was a bit of a problem seeing as I was on the second floor at the very comfortable Visitors Inn… This time it was Juliet’s turn to laugh. Being the youngest, she was fine. No problems at all for her. Now I’m not saying it’s an age thing, perhaps it was more that she was more used to Ugandan conditions, but both Mike and I were having a few difficulties moving the muscles and steps were a particular problem for me, but best thing to do is to walk it out! A good theory anyway. I wish I could say that by the end of the day, I was walking fine again, but unfortunately, I could still feel the soreness days later while walking up and down steps in Madagascar.

A quick wash and refuel

A quick wash and refuel

Today was a rather short day in some ways. We stopped off at the petrol station as you come into Mbale and took a bit of flak from the guys at the servo for our dirty car. Most cars are kept spotless over there, despite the dusty conditions. In fact, on occasions, we have actually washed the car to go to church because it’s not good form to turn up with a dirty car!

Kampala-Jinja road, dividing Mabira Forrest

Kampala-Jinja road, dividing Mabira Forrest

We headed back Kampala way, via Jinja. We stopped at the road house in Jinja again and had a good lunch, before continuing to Mabira Forest. The Mabira Forest is located part way between Jinja and Kampala and is divided by the main road running between it. The main facilities, including some lodging, education facilities and information, as well as the beginning of some walks, are found on the left as you’re heading to Jinja at the Mabira Forest Tourism Project. The place was deserted, apart from a couple of staff there, perhaps because it was not school holidays, or perhaps because it looked like there would be a storm soon.

A tall tree

A tall tree

The walks are really well signposted and there’s a number of different routes and lengths to choose from. The two main walks, a one hour and two loop both start and finish at the lodge office. The long one crosses the road, loops around to recross the road further along, while the short one takes you close to the road, but then back to the office area.
As we stood at the junction for the 1 hour walk or the 2 hour walk, I checked. Time – plenty. Legs – walking not too strenuous, mainly flat so far, I’ll be fine. Camera – yep, all batteries charged, working ok. Forest – not too cool, could handle a two hour walk. Weather – questionable. There’s a storm brewing and both Juliet and I say it’s going to rain. Mike says no worries, we’ll be right, we’ll make it before it rains, we don’t have far. I quell all those doubts about how the time estimates could be wrong and how quickly it starts raining and then how heavy it rains over here when it does start raining and follow.

Fungi Umbrella

Fungi Umbrella

Although we headed deeper into the forest, that wasn’t the reason why it went so quiet or got darker. Ever noticed that just before it’s going to pour that the animals go quiet and take cover and the clouds move over and cover the sun? It quickly became apparent that a) it was going to rain sooner rather than later and b) it was now quicker to continue forward rather than go back.

While we had stopped a bit to look at things along the way in the first half of the walk, after we’d crossed the road and the point of no return, we got a move on so we weren’t caught in the storm. But wow, that path seemed to go forever. Each turn and corner, I thought surely must take us back toward the road. Nope. A few drops. We all walk faster. Cameras get put away. Drops get bigger. Not long after those big drops the rain came down. The path would be reasonably easy to navigate in the dry, but there were a couple of places that weren’t so great in the wet (aka pouring rain). By the time we eventually made it back to the office area, we were all drenched and the rain was starting to ease a little and the sun come out. The couple of staff there had a good laugh at us as we walked back in to sign out, shoes squelching from being wet and wet clothes sticking to us. We sort of dried off as best we could, but it soon started to get a bit cold standing around in wet clothes, so we headed back to Kampala with the heater on.

Waterfalls on the path

Waterfalls on the path

We made a bit of a detour to Griffin Falls, in an attempt to try and visit them. It was back to pouring (pelting) rain again by the time we reached the gate – the guy there STILL wanted to charge a rather excessive fee for each of us to enter his resort. Ok, we were happy to pay for one person, as I was the only one who was wanting to see them badly enough in this pouring rain (as if you’d see anything anyway), but he insisted, so instead of getting something, we turned around (with great difficulty on a single lane mud track) and he went back into his little hut with an empty wallet and no hope of any other visitors dropping by.

These shoes are made for walking

These shoes are made for walking

As we headed back we made time to stop at the shop for some supplies and of course ice cream despite the rain and the cold…


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