This weekend we went camping at Hell’s Gate. No, this is not some cheesy metaphor describing our outreach efforts, but a literal statement of how we spent our weekend camping in Hell’s Gate National Park. Hell’s Gate National Park is located in the Rift Valley, and it sits just north of Mt. Longonot (Click here to see us on top of Mt. Longonot). Do not be fooled by the name of the park which gives an eerie impression. There is no lake of fire or eternal flames (there are however, several natural hot springs, steam vents, obsidian rocks, volcanic plugs, and extinct volcanoes in the park which are all results of the geothermal activity going on under the park, not to mention that a lot of the park is covered in volcanic ash from when Mt. Longonot erupted in the early 1900’s). Apparently the name was given by two German explorers whose parties were massacred there in the 1900’s by a group of Maasai. Despite the name the park is quite beautiful, being home to a large variety of plant life and animals, not to mention obsidian caves, and staggering cliffs and bluffs. The highlight of the park is Ol-Njorowa Gorge, which was created by water running to Lake Naivasha. Ol-Njorowa is an impressive sight and is a gorgeous day hike. For you movie geeks out there (Dwayne, this is you) the gorge was used in the filming of Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life, King Solomon’s Mines, and a few other not as well known movies.
We spent a good part of Saturday hiking the gorge with our friends Daniel and Keturah Nipper and 2 of their girls, Abby and Kaylee. We didn’t explore the whole gorge because some points were too dangerous for the girls, but they did an awesome job hiking and were very brave in situations where they had to be carried. We are planning on heading back soon to explore the rest of the gorge. That afternoon we set up camp on a nice bluff overlooking the park and spent the evening by the fire watching the game (buffalo, zebra, gazelle, baboons) graze in the valley below. The next morning after breaking down camp we did a bit of exploring at some Obsidian caves, but weren’t all that impressed by those. It was a nice relaxing weekend, with a bit of adventure, and we had a great time. Hell’s Gate is definitely a place we will take visitors (ahem, hint, hint) for a nice day hike, or even an overnight camping trip when you come.