January 4th

We decided to hike Mt. Bisoke today. Mt. Bisoke is an active volcano on the border of Rwanda and Democratic Republic of the Congo. I awoke at 5 a.m. and packed my bag. Arthur and I found motorcycle taxis and got a ride to the park headquarters where we paid the park fees and drank some coffee. We were required to hike as a group with several other foreigners and went with a scout, ranger, and several armed men to protect us from “the animals”.¬† The armed guards were more likely due to the fact that we are walking to the border of the Congo. The hike was a blast. It started gradually. We walked through farm fields of white flowers which are used to produce an insecticide. Soon after the real climb started. The total ascent to the top was about 1000 meters¬† (3000 ft). Most of the climb is direct straight up the mountainside which was steep and muddy. After 3 hours we made it to the top. I had already finished all my bananas and peanut butter by the time we reached the top. Gilles, our cycling friend, was nice enough to share some of his and his friend Carolyne’s lunch with me. The clouds cleared at the top and we could see the caldera (collapsed crater of the volcano). The descent was more difficult than the climb up. Going down used the same muscles in my legs that were already sore from bicycling. The mud was slippery and I fell several times. When we made it to the bottom I was exhausted but happy to have experienced the hike.

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