Name ID 2386
Arusha School Magazine
Page Number: 20-21
Extract Date: 1955
The Meru Expedition
On 13th November, a party of fourteen children and seven members of staff set off in a lorry, at about nine o'clock, on Saturday morning for Olkokola.
We arrived there at about half past eleven and left the base party at a pyrethrum kiln where they were to spend the night. The lorry was taken further on, and after a picnic lunch we started to climb.
The forest was beautifully green with luscious ferns, lilies and everlasting flowers. The trees were clothed with old man's beard and there were many open glades where we rested at frequent intervals. As we pressed on, the land gradually grew steeper and it started to rain, but as the trees began to thin out, we stumbled up an ashy slope to arrive at our camping place, at last.
After a brief rest, we all started to collect firewood for the night, and the eagerly awaited supper was cooked. After drying our wet socks and shoes, we lay down by the fires with three blankets each, and sang some songs before going to sleep.
The next morning at about half past four, after an uncomfortable sleep, we had breakfast, put on all extra clothes and each with a bottle of water started off up the steep slopes.
We plodded on, and at sunrise were approaching the rocks just below the scree. As the sun rose over the mountain, the shadow was thrown over the land and we saw the peak projecting above the horizon. It was a sight well worth seeing.
We clambered on over the rocks which rolled beneath us, and when we reached the bottom of the steep slope of scree, three children had decided to descend.
Starting to climb the scree, we slipped and slid as the stones gave way beneath us. At last, reaching the top, we sat down for a rest.
Now above us rose great mounds of rocks and boulders, to the left of which was a slope covered with snow. It was bitterly cold. I took a pair of socks from my haversack and put them on my hands which were quite numb.
After the remaining members of staff had taken some photographs, we started to pick our way across the rocks which were slippery with ice and snow. Would we ever reach the top?
Suddenly, we heard shouts from the people above and we shouted back, asking them if they were at the top. "No", they answered, "We can't find it." So we told them to wait for us, and plodded on.
The Headmaster, who was with us, reached the crater and called down to me, but I was so tired and was having a rest every few steps. Mr. Hamshere called down once more, and I got up and stumbled on. The whole time I was saying to myself, "I must do it, I simply must." I thought how proud my mother would be; this seemed to give me extra energy and I at last arrived at the crater where I flopped down, exhausted.
After a while Mr. Hamshere asked me if I wished to go on, and I immediately got up, ready to carry on. Just as we started to climb the last lap, we met the first lot of children coming down, and I met my best friend who told me she had reached the top. This made me even more determined and I hurried on. Having clambered over rocks and snow, Mr. Hamshere showed me a peak where a few Africans were sitting. It was the top.
At last, clambering over the last rocks, we arrived at the top. How pleased I was and, shaking hands with Mr. Hamshere, I reached for my water bottle and biscuits and had a long drink and a snack. Then the Africans handed us the book, which was in a tin under a rock, and we wrote our names. We did not have a good view as there were clouds beneath us, and peeping down the crater we had glimpses of the steep sides through the cloud.
Mr. Hamshere then took some photographs, and we started to descend the slopes of rock. When we reached the crater, we lay down and almost went to sleep, as we waited for the last two members of staff who had gone on to the top. When they arrived, we arose and descended through the snow, loose snow and, later, the ash, a slightly different way from the way we went up. I was so tired and my knees were so shaky that I thought I would fall. We had many rests stopping at the everlasting flower bushes and picking bunches for our friends at school.
At last, at three o'clock, we arrived at the camp, having arrived at the top at a quarter to twelve. How we all wished that we could go up in the little time it took to come down.
We were given slices of pineapple and soup when we were all back at the camp and then, after all the porters had been sent down, we started down through the forest to arrive at the place where the lorry had been left, at about five-thirty.
On reaching the glade we found Mr. Mahon waiting for us, with a Pepsi-Cola each. What a lovely treat and ending to our expedition! Then, clambering into the lorry we set off for school, singing songs and chattering to each other. On arriving at school everyone was most surprised to hear I had conquered Meru and, after telling the story about three times, I at last went to supper.
After. I had a very hot bath, I climbed into , bed, very tired and wondering how I had ever conquered Meru.
Vivien Landcastle, Age 12 years
Arusha School Magazine
Page Number: 04-05
Extract Date: 1955