It was a cold night at Lake Ellis, elevation 3405 meters (11,170 feet), and I had another night of periods of sleep followed by hours of laying in the dark. At first light I was up and out of my tent in the cold morning air. Fortunately, others were stirring too and I was able to enjoy coffee and breakfast as the sun rose above the lake.
Sunrise at Lake Ellis
We did not stay long, as there would be a 8 km (5 miles) walk ahead of us. We would be climbing steadily and there was no other choice but to go pole pole, slow in Swahili. We were walking through vast grasslands with tufts up to my waist. At times I could not see my feet or the path below me.
I was seeing plants I had never seen before. This bush had a yellow green globe that in a few days would open up into a pale yellow flower.
The terrain was open and seemed to go on forever. I could look back and see our progress as we ascended from Lake Ellis.
The terrain rose steadily as the flora changed.
This plant, while it looked like a cactus, had soft petals.
This plant collected water in its leaves. It is the giant rosette (lobelia keniensis) and was the same as the plant shown above, just less mature.
We kept climbing. This is the view as I looked back at Lake Ellis.
Perhaps the altitude was getting to me. John called this moss an old man’s beard, so I gently placed it on my chin.
The landscape became more and more bare as we ascended. We stopped at this plateau for lunch at 4200 meters (13,780 feet), Point Lenana is in the distance.
As I ate lunch I saw this bird hanging out in this cool plant. The leaves were as soft as feathers.
After lunch we began the descent to Lake Michaleson at 3900 feet (12,795 feet). John said it was important to climb high and sleep low. This is an ice waterfall on the side of the mountain.
This is the view of Lake Michaelson as we sharply descended into this valley.
These are rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) or rock badger. There was one on a rock high above the others making a loud call as we hiked down to the lake. I thought it was a bird call, but one of the porters set me straight and showed me the hydrax that was acting as a sentry. The closest living relatives to hyraxes are the modern-day elephants, but I was not worried about a hydrax attack.
I believe this is a Red-Tufted Sunbird. It is dark with a metallic green sheen, so I don’t know why they call it Red-Tufted.
The water of Lake Michaleson was a deep green.
As the sun went down on Lake Michaelson, the cold set in.
One of the porters, in red, took some old nylon fishing line, attached a hook, and found a nearby stick to make a fishing pole. He dug up some worms nearby, and as the sun went down the trout started biting. He caught five in all, and we had fish for breakfast the next day.