One of the chief ways that I recreate and enjoy the places I visit is by climbing mountains. As I get older, climbing mountains is a good challenge for me and a good inspiration to remain fit. Also, through my hiking, I hope to have experiences of the sublime through being in close contact with creation. I hope to bequeath my love of mountains to my children by taking them on my hikes when I can. Annie has already done a local 5 km hike along some hilltops three or four times. This post comes two big adventures with Annie: our ascent of mountain Hagen before coming to the US this year and going up Mt. Elbert in CO.
I had gone up Mt. Hagen last year with the Archbishop of Mount Hagen and some Australians. However, we turned back before the summit. Two of my hiking buddies in PNG were Samuel, a Swiss short-term missionary working for Mission Aviation Fellowship, and Sheena, the dentist at the local Nazarene hospital. They were interested in going up Mount Hagen before Samuel left PNG in May of this year. Based on my prior experience, I organized a trip for us, my two PNG friends Peter and James (who agreed to carry Anastasia), and Samuel’s national friend Michael. On Friday, I drove us to Magic Mountain lodge at the foot of the mountain, between Central Highlands and Enga Provinces. All the men and Annie slept in a tiny one bedroom apartment while Sheena luxuriated in her own apartment. We woke up around 1 am and set off for the summit. Our guide, who apparently was a late sleeper, joined us later and guided us through a thick rain forest. It was dark, so I have no pictures until we got out of the tree line around dawn.
It was gloriously clear on top of the mountain.
Once the sun was up, a cold wind swept the mountain. Annie got pretty cold and I thought that I would have to take her down, but I wrapped her in my raincoat and put all her extra clothes on her and she was able to pull through. It soon warmed up.
At the summit was an old, toppled cellphone tower. The story is that the container was originally a shelter for guards for the tower and its equipment. One night rascals came, surprised the guards, tied them up, and then robbed the place. If I remember right, the guards had to wait until the relief shift before they were rescued! That was the end of the cellphone tower, but it makes a good marker of the summit!
Annie befriended Michael and they walked much of the way down together, making much better time than me prior to the treeline. We wended our way through the forest – not getting lost this time! The lodge gave us a nice discount on our bill. They were astonished that Annie had been up the mountain and suggested that we contact the national newspaper so that they could cover the first ascent of Mt. Hagen by a five-year-old white girl. We stopped for ice cream in Mount Hagen on the way home. Getting home just before dark, Rebecca had a nice pizza dinner all ready for us.
I was very happy with this trip. It was physically demanding, but it was the first adventure that I had entirely planned while in PNG. The successful of this trip made me feel like I have successfully adjusted to life in PNG.