Hikin' Up to the Top of Afadjato Mountain

Trip Start Jun 21, 2012
Trip End Jul 21, 2012

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Climbing Afadjato Mountain is the toughest of all. It took a toll on my physical challenge, especially my legs.  Not all volunteers went after they experienced Lipke Todome and I think when they were told about Afadjato Mt, they dismissed the idea of goin'.   I have hiked up in Kakum National Park and Lipke Todome, but Afajado Mt is no comparin’ to those two.  However, I didn’t regret goin’ there.  Out of all volunteers, I think I am the oldest and I’m damn proud of myself who made it to the top!

Gettin’ to the mountain took an hour by the van.  As always, lots of potholes were in paved and dirt roads.   I got used to the bumpy road and sightseein’ of the scene gave me a pleasure to kill time & boredom.  There were many villages along the road, and ya really can’t see 'em ‘cos they’re hid by tropical plants, which serve as gates and openin’ paths are led to the villages.  Often I saw villagers walkin’ by the road and carryin’ stuff on their head n a machete in their hand.  There were more motorcycle riders, comparin’ to the town of Hohoe, and I assume they’re more accessible to their villages.

Afadjato is the highest mount in Ghana, at an altitude of 2,904 ft. and at the border of Togo.  Climbers of Mt. Everest or Rocky probably wudda laugh at it & think it’s as easy as pie. However, it’s steeper than other places I climbed.

As we neared the Afadjato Mountain, it looked taller w/ the cloud hoverin’ over it.   Is ‘tis one where we’re goin’ to climb?  I asked myself.  There were many greenish mountains w/ valleys between ‘em and they looked same to me.  Tallest?  Okay…I’ll see it for myself, as I thought.  No tour guide in sight.   We were pretty on our own but one of the CCS workers warned us about safety and goin’ SLOW.  He hinted us climbin’ Afadjato Mt wuz not an easy task.  We were already under the canopy and mosquitoes quickly were attracted to us, like bees to honey.  I hurriedly applied the repellent before they bite me. 

We were set to go and started walkin’ on the trail covered w/ rocks, foliage, roots, & dirt.  Mawusi wuz supposed to meet us at our home-based but he didn’t show up, so we went w/out him.  I had to concentrate on my steps, or I’d sprain my ankles.  There was no flat ground to step on and ya have to watch where ya go.  If ya stop to take a break or to catch up w/ your breath, ants will crawl over your shoes and pinch your feet in no time.  Thanks to God I didn’t sport my Chaco sandals!  Some volunteers, who were from ROTC, were the first group leaving for the mountain.  As told, I took it easy for first 15 minutes, or so but when the altitude started increasin’ w/ steps measured about one foot high, I slowed down.  I had to lift my thighs, not feet, every time I stepped onto.  There were some ropes between trees for us to hold onto & they helped us to lead where we went.  I started to pant ‘cos the mountain had all steps with no flat ground for ya to walk and take a break in between.  I remembered to use breathin’ technique from my yoga class and to control my breath better.  However, I had to stop in between to change from pantin’ to breathin’.  Sometimes it’s impossible.  The ants sure did pinch my feet and I immediately removed ‘em.  And when I started climbin’ again, I felt sumthan’ pinched my thighs (I wore a pair of Columbia pants), I pulled the pants up and found the ants were on my thighs!  I didn’t feel ‘em crawlin’ up at all.  Good thing is dat it wuz not fire ant or bullet ant.  And they didn’t crawl up to my…ya know.

I believe climblin’ up steadily the Afadjato Mountain took me an hour and half, or maybe two hours.  I looked up and checked to see if I cudda see the top from where I wuz at.  Nope, ‘cos the canopy blocked my view, however, there were signs sayin’, "Hell You’ve Got to a Point of No Return.  Press on.  You’re 442.5m to the Summit" and “Don’t Give Up, Quitters Never Win.  You’re 664m to the Summit.”  Pfft!  OK OK!  One of volunteers stayed w/ me to make sure I’m OK.  I told her I wuz fine and dat she didn’t have to wait for me.  I felt bad for her when I saw her wearin’ blue jeans in full length and I wuz already sweaty.  Besides she had a heavy backpack w/ her.  I know the blue jeans and the backpack did drag her down.  I felt my thighs started to burn, not from the ants, from constantly steppin’ onto.  When I saw the window of the canopy startin’ to peek in, I knew I wuz almost to the summit!  It took me forever to reach there.  I kept askin’ myself:  When?  Not there yet??  When???  Finally the sky showed up and I rose to the top.  Yesssssssss!  And I wuz not a quitter.  I triumphed!

The ROTC volunteers were already there takin’ themselves some photos.  I looked in a panoramic way where I stood.  I saw vegetated valleys, hooverin’ clouds, and a waterfall in a great distance.  The CCS worker pointed to the spot where Togo wuz.  Togo is ‘other country next to Ghana.  I sat on the rock and just enjoyed the scene. We were waitin’ for other volunteers to top the mountain.  We gave ourselves high fives & thumb ups.  I finished my bottle of water & quenched the thirst.  I didn’t have a camera w/ me (first time I forgot about it) and I asked the volunteer to take some photos for me and to send ‘em to me.  Dat’s how I got those snapshots, as ya see. 

I took a rest knowin’ we had to descend back and my legs were already worn out.  I felt the cloud started to weigh on me and it wuz gettin’ dark.  Got myself heavily soaked at Lipke Todome where we hiked and I didn’t want to happen again, so I left the summit right away.  I slowly climbed down, squatted down to put my feet onto the ground, and leaned myself diagonally.  It took longer than when I went up.  My legs started to shake as they got more tired.  One of the CCS workers (the cute one) climbed up to me and offered me his hand.  He knew I needed help.  He gripped my hand.  Thank ya, Emmanuel!  It started to rain but I only got lil’ wet, only from the drops of the rain.  Thanks to the canopy but the ground became lil’ slippery, so I had to be more careful.  Guess who showed up?  Mawusi!  He ran up and met me where I wuz.  He RAN!  Remember he’s from Ghana and dat’s his natural.  I asked him how come he missed meetin’ us at the home-based.  He said he wuz late and had to take the taxi to meet us.  Ain’t he sweet?!  He didn’t give up on us and still showed up.  Anyhoo, he helped holdin’ my hand while I wuz descendin’.  I told him dat the Afadjato Mountain wuz challengin’ and dat my legs were gettin’ like rubber bands.  He smiled.  When we finally arrived at the bottom, I started to walk on the ground but my legs became wobbly.  At least I made it!

Back to the home-based some volunteers, who didn’t come w/ us, asked me how the trip wuz.  With my facial expression, I told ‘em, “Tougher and very tired”.  When I smelled the aroma of awaitin’ dinner, I grabbed a plate and filled it up.  I pigged out hungrily and gulped water after 4 hours of hikin’ up and down the Afadjato Mountain. The final sign at the bottom of the mountain read “Goodbye, Safe Journey, and Come Back Again”.  Yeah, maybe next year…
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