(This is a post I wrote back in April. I just never got around to organizing all the pictures and putting it up.)
Three nights in the past week I have fallen asleep exhausted on the couch before 8 o’clock. I have been extremely busy trying to work on some leadership adjustments at the school before the close of the term. When I got home on Wednesday, I looked at Abby and said I am taking all of Saturday off to relax and enjoy family, and I want you to hold me to it.
When Saturday rolled around, we decided to go on an adventure. The Browns had been wanting to hike up to the Mau Mau caves, and they invited us to join. It was the perfect idea.
Okay, with a 1 month old and an almost 2 year old, it really seemed like a crazy idea, but we had a good plan. We would go to a lodge which is one of the launching points for hiking to the caves. If the trail seemed too hard, then Abby and I would hang back and play with the kids at the playground while the Browns hiked.
It was a cloudy day, so the guide recommended that we drive part way. It was the perfect option. We could drive most of the way, yet still enjoying hiking around the caves and waterfall, which is the best part. Plus, it was a great chance to test our Land Rover Defender that we just got back from the mechanic.
Into the forest we ventured. It was a serene drive through the trees, but the road was badly washed out in a couple places. For a hardcore 4×4 like the defender, it was only a small challenge.
From the place we parked the car, the short hike to the caves was more than enough with 2 kids under 2. With all the rains we have been having the waterfall was roaring. As we arrived, the rains started, but we had found a nice place under a cliff to relax. Our guide, Caesar, used the time to give us a history lesson.
The caves, or at least what remains of the caves, were used during the Mau Mau Revolution. This is how Kenya gained its independence from Britain. The Kikuyu warriors used the caves as a hiding place and planning grounds. One day a British airplane spotted the hiding place and dropped a bomb on the site, collapsing the roof of the cave.
As our history lesson wrapped up, the rains began to ease. We climbed up to the top of the waterfall to enjoy the view before hiking back to the car. Caesar knows all about the medicinal applications of the different trees and bushes, but his lesson was cut short as it started to pour. We rushed back to the car. I was glad I had thought ahead and carried my waterproof jacket, so Abby could wear it while I got soaked.
The mud in this area gets super slick when it rains. In the words of Steve, it is like walking on ice. I knew the areas where the road had washed out would be a challenge, so I locked the differential and set off in 4wd low.. We slid a couple times, and more than once someone banged their head as the car jerked.
After one particularly precarious section, Caesar told us that was the last hard spot. I was sure relieved, but Caesar was wrong. I rounded a corner and spotted another bad area.
The initial drop in the washout was about 3 feet. I didn’t want to slide sideways into it. I had 2 options. I could keep left and risk sliding sideways into the small ravine, or I could try to keep the washout between to tires. Since the left hand route was sloped toward the trench and I could all but guarantee that the vehicle would slide sideways, I decided to keep the rut between the tires.
The deep section at the beginning was the most nerve racking part. The right side of the trench was the steepest, so I was focusing on keeping my right tires away from the edge. I ended up over compensating and my left side broke free and slid into the ditch.
My left tires were stuck in the tracks so I had no steering. I could either go forward or back. Behind was the deepest part of the washout, so reversing was not an option. I kept pushing forward, and the car tipped farther and farther as the right tires climbed onto a ridge.
It is not unusual to have to ride the edge of a ridge over here, and Abby is always afraid of tipping over. I always joke with her and play down her concerns, but now her words were ringing in my ears. A foot outside the left windows was the ground.
I quickly stopped the car and braced for it to tip. Luckily the ravine which caused the problem in the first place was also holding us upright. We were at about a 45 degree angle. I glanced at Abby waiting for an unhappy I told you so. She looked back too panicked to say anything.
We had to evacuate the truck. I climbed out the window and freed people from the back. Steve and Caesar climbed out from the middle. Abby had our 1 month old, Carson, wrapped to her chest and didn’t want to move. With everyone else out and the car stable, Abby slid Carson out the bottom window to me. Then she climbed out too.
I made sure to take some pictures, because you always realize afterwards that you have no photos to share the adventure. A couple years ago I had a car fall on me and no pictures to tell the tale.
After evaluating the situation, I climbed back in. It really sunk in how much the car was leaning as I struggled just to stay in my seat. We decided that the guys would push and I would try to go forward. We had made it over most of the worst part, and the car was already so close to the ground that it didn’t have far to fall if it tipped all the way.
At first I couldn’t get any traction. I have a spot in the bumper for a winch which would have made everything easy, but no money to buy one. As I started to think of who I could call for a tow, the tires began to grip.
Slowly I inched forward until I was able to use the force of the ridge on the right tires to push the left side out of the ditch. What a relief!
Caesar was right this time. There were no more really bad spots after that. We made it back to our starting point with a story to tell. I can only imagine what Caesar is telling his friend about the day. It was an adventure for sure.