The next morning there was spoor around the site from the night visitors – buck, eland and buffalo mainly. We had heard them in the night but were not brave enough to go out. The mist was still there which gave the whole place a shrouded look and the monkeys screeching in the trees made it even more eerie. Within a few hours’ walk the mist had burned off and we had a beautiful day’s walking. This stage to Minto’s Hut goes through forest and then there is a well-trodden path through the scrub and into the wetlands with the Giant’s Billiards off to the right . We saw elephants and zebra in the distance, a small buffalo herd and every kind of deer. Birds assailed us at every step and their noisy chatter was uplifting.
In the afternoon the walk was a bit steeper along the flank of the Gorges Valley. The views were wonderful of the craggy outcrops, the Vivienne Waterfall and Lake Michelson down in the valley. The multi-greened vegetation and the scraggy earth gave the place a forbidding look. It was hot and difficult to breathe. We had put sun-cream on our arms and faces as you would expect but, stupidly, I forgot about the backs of my legs and I burned behind my knees on this exposed walk. A painful lesson!
The porters had gone a different route and were at the camp when we arrived. They carried our sleeping gear and clothes, plus their own, and all the food. We carried day-packs with leggings, ballaclava, sun and lip cream, insect repellent, sun glasses, gloves, water and snacks. We also carried spare dry clothes, a medical kit, whistle and compass, and a survival bag – just in case. We purchased Diamox in Nairobi for mountain sickness but we never used it.
Minto’s Hut is just that – a hut! It is really one big room with a bench for all the sleepers and some basic cooking facilities. We slept in a small tent outside. The area itself is almost moon-scape in appearance, rocky, very little vegetation and small lakes everywhere. The open section is dominated by a red painted toilet (the Choo) with a very large hole! When we were there it was -6c and we walked around to keep warm, watching birds and small reptiles live their lives around the water, until it got dark at 6pm and we went to bed.