Step Out of the Van and Into a Postcard

View on the way to our starting point at Sankaver.

We’d heard about the Gelada baboons and wanted to see them. This was all we knew. We didn’t consider the fact that sunny mountain sides are perilous for pasty white skin, that cool breezes turn lips into raisins, or the fact that sitting inside and using the internet for the past five months had in no way prepared us for our 3 day mountain trek at altitudes ranging between 12000-14000 feet.

Chapstick-less, sunscreen-less, and fitness-less, we lumbered into a van at 5:20 am Friday morning and made for the mountains in the most uncomfortable car ride of my life. It was the equivalent of traveling in a mobile washing machine and I would rather re-experience birth than go through those painful five hours again.

We wound higher and higher on gravel roads, through land patch-worked with crops and grass, and the sun was shining over the peaks. We hadn’t even done anything and it was already beautiful. All of the sudden, the van stopped, our driver opened the door, and we were tumbled out onto the mountain.

I did nothing to earn this view.

At 10:20 we started our trek and at 10:25 we saw our first incredible view. It was like we had stepped out of the van and into the Google Image search I did of the Simien Mountains a few weeks earlier. Somehow we had reached close to the top of the world and were looking over infinite valleys and peaks that tumbled and cut into one another. Hawks flapped off the side of a mountain and were instantly soaring thousands of feet in the air. I had never wanted to fly so badly in my life as I did while I was in those mountains, to be able to go from standing on the ground to gliding ten thousand feet over it in a single breath.

We ate it up, taking pictures and laughing, giddy with the novelty of “trekking,” which at that point had been nothing more than a car ride and five minutes of walking amidst intensely gold grass set against the blue, blue sky. The entire world felt right and fresh and new.

Eventually we hit our first uphill and realized the journey would not be all smiles and baboons. We would have to pay for some of the views with our own sweat and blisters and sunburns. Damn the altitude.

View from our tent at Geech.

The first day of hiking ended at a campsite near Geech village, which in my mind is distinguished by the fact that a never ending hill preceded it. After only four hours, my legs had been replaced with lead stumps and I was silently bargaining with God to make it all end.

Miraculously, we finally arrived and collapsed as our awesome porters made us tea and then helped set up our tent at the edge of the golden plain. The cows went home as the sun set, the sky fading through shades of purple and blue as stars began their twinkling. Soon we wrapped ourselves tight against the mountain cold and fell fast asleep, our bodies resting up for another day of overwhelming natural beauty.

How did we get so lucky?

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30 thoughts on “Step Out of the Van and Into a Postcard

  1. […] I pulled the quote from a full text version of The Lord of the Rings that can be found here. If you liked this article, you might also enjoy: Oh Travel, Why Are You So Magical?,, a website about clothing and memory, and Step Out of the Van and Into a Postcard.  […]

  2. Hala J. says:

    I agree with all the other commenters. You have a way of writing that is just…wow. Not at all pretentious and not even slightly boring, and yet paints vivid pictures. I’m dying to go on an adventure like that someday, and this is just pushing that desire even further. Also: Great pictures!!!

    • edrevets says:

      Thanks! You must visit Ethiopia—-quite beautiful. I even heard that the trekking was comparable to Nepal, or on that level of beauty at least. I’m lucky enough to get to go out to Colorado in a few weeks, so I’ll get another big dose of star-age. I don’t deserve it.

  3. evea192 says:

    All i can say is, wow! Breath taking…..

  4. Did this trek require underpants?? Do the scouts and porters wear them??? Sorry, I’m having a Fruit of the Loom moment.Anyway,do we meet the Baboons tomorrow?
    Like the pics.
    Keep on trekking Ms. E. but watch out for bad ju ju…..

    • edrevets says:

      I’m always on the lookout for the bad ju ju….baboons coming up next week. They deserve a post of their very own. Underpants were required but not too many…..sometimes I can convince myself that cleanliness is a Western invention.

  5. Archon's Den says:

    The photos were impressive, but your rich prose had already painted beautiful pictures in my mind. Way to go – lead legs.

  6. Abbadon1701 says:

    Absolutley impressive!

    Thank you.

  7. tomwisk says:

    Your travels are food for us left behind. A sunburn and achy muscles are a paltry price to pay for an adventure that has enriched your soul.

  8. It all sounds absolutely wonderful and incredible, and your writing really gets that across as I read this.

    But I had to smile when I read “…sitting inside and using the internet for the past five months had in no way prepared us for our 3 day mountain trek…” In 1991 my wife and I embarked on our two week honeymoon/extreme hiking expedition in Hawaii, and most of our experience can be best described by the two words “extremely strenuous”.

    If both of us had been on the internet as much then as we are now, we probably wouldn’t have survived our honeymoon… Lol

    Great photo of the view from your tent! Especially when seen enlarged – that is Art!

    • edrevets says:

      I gotta love the frame shots. I can’t resist taking them when I see them…and re: interneting. It was so much fun to imagine hiking when I was researching I didn’t really consider he possibility it would be so much work, but it was definitely worth it.

  9. Pleun says:

    Ethiopia is definitely on my to-do list now. Love the real life stories 🙂

    • edrevets says:

      You must go! They’re doing all kinds of crazy construction right now so I bet in a few months/years it will be even easier to get there.

  10. Addie says:

    I love your tales of adventures and the photos that come with them–thank you, once again, for sharing.

  11. sirarmany says:

    Wow. This should be Ethiopian discover blog page love the passion. Having beer in your name cheers. Awesome

  12. Gorgeous writing, almost makes me want to get off my backside again. Almost.

    • edrevets says:

      Thanks! We were careful not to go too crazy because we wouldn’t be able to charge the camera and we were able to take pictures all three days. That’s where a little planning gets you.

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