Testing the Limits of Humanity

‘I Shouldn’t Be Alive’ is an award winning docudrama series that tells of the extraordinary stories of ordinary people who found themselves in epic survival situations. It is usually a combination of first-person accounts of the survivors together with dramatic re-enactments to bring back to life the emotional and physical journey they faced in their fight to stay alive. Ideally, death is usually the inevitable end for such experiences. In the docudrama series, you would encounter a man who drifted into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and survives for a month feeding on captured sea life. Worse still, you could come across an individual who innocently went hiking but loses his leg as a result of a boulder falling on him, trapping him for weeks on end, only to be rescued by a billionaire making helicopter tours on a weekend. To understand the limits of humanity, ‘I Shouldn’t Be Alive’ docudrama series is best placed to expound.

Quarter way upwards in the quest to climb mount Longonot and circle the crater at the top, thoughts of guys being trapped in canyons and crevasses dominantly occupied my mind. I decided not to feel scared alone and began narrating the dreading stories to my hike-mates. Contrary to my expectations, they found the tales imaginary and amusing. The stories became catalysts to our steady ascent to 2776 meters above sea level.

A popular saying goes, ‘Use your 20s to explore and travel. Take the plunge and do all the seemingly impossible activities.’ I adhere to that saying as I would adhere to the “Torah”. Among the reasons for using your twenties include the fact that you are more fearless then than you will ever be. You probably aren’t constrained by uphill responsibilities such as mortgages or children. You are as malleable as cooking dough. Your life hasn’t yet been defined in terms of purpose, career and lifetime ambitions. You gain perspective and curb anxiety. You eliminate ignorance. Better yet, you meet people who will change you in all the best ways possible.

Halfway to the top of Longonot, we met a 72 year old man descending. It was unbelievable.

‘Hallo Sir! How far are we to the top?’

Laughing weakly he said, “Not a far off. But I hope you are not intent on circling the crater. It is an extra 6 hours hike.”

‘What time did you commence the hike?’

“8 a.m., and at the time, I met few other people coming down having done the hike.”

Looking at our watches, it was thirty two minutes past noon. Estimating the old man’s time taken to ascend and descend, we gave ourselves five hours to reach the top, circle the crater and come down by 6pm. A 72 year old man doing a 10km hike was a wakeup call to us in the twenties. We hastened our feet aiming for the crater.

An hour and thirty minutes was the time we took to reach the peak of Mount Longonot. We were panting like dangerously overheated German shepherds. The heartbeat of each was at a record high. The amount of calories burned per hour during mountain climbing ranges from 650 to 700 for a 58kg person. For a 100kg person, that would be 1206 calories. That is pleasing.

We had one more challenge. To circle the magnificent crater. We received all manner of discouragements. People dubbed it as mission impossible considering it was way past 1pm. Thinking of how malleable and ductile we are in our twenties, we gave it a shot. The assumption was, we were to walk casually around a flat edge of the crater and be back in an hour’s time. Shock on us. What we had climbed to the crater was but the tip of an iceberg. The circling of the crater was a test of the limits of humanity like in the docudrama series, ‘I Shouldn’t Be Alive’. Of the hardships that are encountered during that circling, the half cannot be told. Our sweat pores run dry. Our joints and muscles sored to numbness. We hiked using every movable part of the body. We soiled our bodies involuntarily in a manner only comparable to lunatics. We prayed that God would send his Son Jesus to come and take us home. In this case, home was heaven. God probably smiled at the way were soiled and speechless. He knew we would climb down. The willpower wasn’t yet diminished. We hadn’t yet got to the point of sweating blood like Jesus did at Gethsemane.

7.40pm, we arrived at the base of the mountain. We dreaded even looking back lest we became Lot of the 21st century. Ladies and gentlemen, there are hills and there are mountains. Ngong are a range of mere hills. Longonot is a mountain. For the individuals who dare to climb Mount Kenya, there verdict is simple. They are insane. For those who attempt Everest, they have decided that this world is not their home. As a matter of fact, the death toll on Mount Everest has surpassed 300 ever since explorers first started climbing the mountain in the 1900s. The only year without known deaths on the Mountain is 1977 where only two people reached the peak. It is said that dead bodies are the landmark to the highest peak of Everest.

“…the real purpose of running isn’t to win a race. It’s to test the limits of the human heart.”
― -Without Limits

5 thoughts on “Testing the Limits of Humanity”

  1. Mt. Longonot is one of the kind. One lesson I have learnt from hiking it is, life is not easy. You must make it through to the end. If you start climbing the mountain, there is no way you will turn back but keep going ahead until you finish so is this life. It’s not easy but we must hike the challenges of life.


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