Day 10: An early rise
We left at 5 a.m., driving about 1-1 ½ hours to the hiking site. We had a guide and seven trackers with us throughout the morning. Naturally, I could not keep up with the main group. Emil remained patiently with me as I slowly descended the trails. The only thing that I could think the entire first hour was, “Oh, the more we go down, the more I have to come up later.” At one point, I stopped and asked if we were going to continue to descend and the answer was “yes.” I noted my concern for the hike back up the mountain. The guide, Christian, was with us at that point and he suggest that I continue with Emil down for about 20 more minutes to a bench. He said the chimpanzees might move back in that direction. I agreed. We got to the bench and rested. I could listen to the sounds, view the trees,…take in the forest. Christian (a “Tutsi” that lived in the Congo during the genocide; noted that had he lived in Rwanda, “I would not be here today.”) came back and suggested that we continue, as there was one chimpanzee that had remained in a tree from the time the main group saw him. So, we continued for another twenty minutes or so and came to the chimpanzee. We moved down off the trail to see him in the tree. We sat and watch him for a while. We (and he) heard the call of chimpanzees a distance away; he responded to their call and then he moved. We moved to watch him. He walked on the trail, defecated, and moved back into the trees to forage. We continued to watch him eat until he dropped below our sight. THEN, we began the hike up the mountain. It was not that my knees or feet hurt; it was simply difficult on my lungs. The higher altitude was a factor in catching one’s breath; I have not hiked since perhaps 2003 and I simply found it tiring. Soon the main group was with us in the ascent and everyone went at my pace, taking photos along the way. It was a fun and beautiful day (and I could not have done it without Emil); I enjoyed seeing the male chimp in his environment; the tree were beautiful; there were many lovely butterflies as I have never seen; the sounds of the birds were spirit lifting. We rested for the rest of the day, although I heard Emanuel run by my hut looking for a soccer ball…he was playing with locals/guests.