Thursday

Almost There - Jennifer Hamilton

Bright and early, we started our long day. The guides told us to leave our snacks in the car that drove us to what I thought was the beginning of the mountain. Not quite. It turned out we had an hour long hike to the mountain. Then the real hike began. I don't think I have ever been hit in the face by so many branches in my entire life. I also doubt that I have ever encountered so much mud before. Most of the time I couldn't even see the surface we were walking on. There were rocks and fallen trees where I was trying to walk. The walking stick the guides lent me at the base of the mountain was my best friend. Then the walking was paying off when our guides told us, "We are almost there."
...half an hour later, they said, "We are almost there."
...forty-five minutes later...
...twenty minutes later...
...ten minutes later...
Finally we were actually almost there because the guides told us to leave our bags and get out our cameras. The gorillas were amazing and well worth the trees, rocks, and mud. We went to see a family of twenty-three gorillas; the most important, of course, being the babies. One was only three months old and cute as can be. She was trying to walk but kept falling over. Another little one climbed a vine to get to some food. I could have watched those babies playing and rolling around for hours, but our precious sixty minutes disappeared in the blink of an eye.
Our descent was a "shortcut." I took this with a grain of salt remembering the guides' measures of distances as a bit different from my own. I was expecting it to take about as long as the way up. I was not expecting it to be a walk through a swamp. I think I crossed a mud river, some mud lakes, and maybe a mud ocean. All I know for sure is that I survived.

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