Monday, August 30, 2010
At 14,793 ft Mt. Wilhelm or Enduwa Kombuglu is the tallest peak in Papua New Guinea. Myself with a group of 12 missionaries made the 4 hour drive to the base of the mountain on a Friday morning. When we drove as far as the roads would take us we had some lunch and began the 3 hour hike to base camp. Upon arrival at base camp we relaxed for a bit in the small cabin there at the edge of a lake and had some dinner. Most people went to sleep but I just couldn't sleep so I stayed awake with the guides, PNG nationals, and talked. The women wanted to sing me a song in their tribal language. Their tribal language is far beyond me so I didn't understand the song, exept for one word. The song included my name, but they didn't remember my name so they all sung "Rambo." I laughed and shook my head, most of the time the Rambo stuff is just silly, but this was actually pretty funny. Since they had sung me a traditional song of theirs they wanted me to sing some traditional songs from America. So I thought for a while, and sang "She'll be comin' round the mountain," and they wanted another so I sang "Take me out to the ball game" (root for the Cubies version), and they wanted another but 2 was enough. Sorry, back to the whole Wilhelm thing. So I eventual got to bed and we all got up around 4am the next morning. We got some breakfast and split up into 3 groups with a guide in each group and headed out in the dark to conquer PNG, so to speak. As we hiked the groups began to separate. My group consisted of Scott Riggins, a missionary at Kudjip who is very fit, Apa, a good national friend of mine, myself, and our guide.
Before we left Kudjip I told Rachel that I wanted to be in a group where I was not the slowest, and I certainly failed. Of course the guide was in good shape, Scott was doing just fine, and when I was sucking wind and my legs were burning I looked over at Apa and he wasn't even breathing hard. "I asked him "Apa are you tired at all?" Apa replied, "Oh no bro I'm not tired, but I can see that you are getting tired so I will pray for you." I appreciated the prayer, but I told Apa "If I ask you again if your tired, tell me that you are, even if you are doing fine, OK?" So in ten minutes or so I asked Apa "so are you tired yet?" and of course he replied, "no bro I am doing fine." Can't get upset with a guy for being honest.
So we were the first group to make it to the top, and eventually every group made it up. When we reached the summit we were in a cloud and couldn't see very far. But the wind was moving those clouds around so fast that there would be breaks in the sea of white for a few minutes at a time. During those breaks we enjoyed some breathtaking views that the camera just fails to relay.
We all made it down the mountain safely and made it back to our vehicles. That night we stayed in the cook house of one of our guides and the following morning headed back home.
All together it was a great trip that will be remembered as a highlight of my time here in PNG. It was great fun to be able share the experience with Apa, who makes everything a little more fun. It took a good deal of effort to get my big self up the mountain but it was well worth it.
Pic labels; Top left(Apa and I, Rachel knitted Apa a bright green hat so couldn't loose him) Top Right(Me on top of Wilhelm, Glad its all downhill from here) Mid Left (Apa about halfway to summit, Apa didn't have long pants so he borrowed some of mine, he rolled them up 8 times and needed a belt) Mid Right (the whole group at base camp) Bottom Left (The guides, Willie the guy with his hands up, has been to the top around 50 times) Bottom Right (The Bridge with 2 boards, we crossed a lot of bridges but this one only had two boards so we went slowly)