For the love of Cheruiyot! Hikers climb Manga Hills in honour of the late mountaineer

A group of hikers drawn mostly from Western have scaled Manga Hills on the border of Kisii and Nyamira counties in honour of Joshua Cheruiyot Kirui, the mountaineer who recently died while climbing Mt Everest.

The climbers, who call themselves ‘Hike Masters’ and are from diverse professional backgrounds, said they engage in the activity to enhance physical and mental fitness.

“We are on top of Manga Hills. We are here for a commemorative hike in honour of our friend and colleague Cheruiyot who passed away while trying to achieve his dream of summiting Mt Everest without supplemental oxygen,” Hike Masters’ team leader Evans Obare said.

Cheruiyot, 40, collapsed only 48 metres away from the 8,849 metres peak, the world’s highest point.

He was in the company of a Nepalese guide, Nawang Sherpa, who also went missing.

Hike Masters has 163 members. With every hike, the group gets new members who are joined together by their passion for outdoor activities and love for nature, Mr Obare told the Nation.

“We are a people interested in outdoor activities to keep fit and stay mentally alert. We usually advertise every time we have an event and that’s how people join. We get to have fun, travel and learn more about the beauty of creation,” said Ms Janet Amani, a member of the Hike Masters group.

Ms Terry Oyugu from Siaya County said she started hiking to connect with nature and become healthier.

“We have decided to mourn our colleague Cheruiyot because we are hiking enthusiasts just like he was. May his soul rest in peace,” said Ms Christine Bosibori, a banker and a member of the Hike Masters group.

Ms Bosibori said that hiking helped them keep lifestyle diseases at bay.

“We started hiking because we realised that we were aging and lifestyle diseases were kicking in. Some of us went to the hospital and were told that we have borderline diabetes and blood pressure,” Ms Bosibori said.

She noted that their decision to start hiking has seen them travel around the country.

In the Western tourism circuit, Hike Masters have opened hiking trails in the hitherto unexplored places like Gembe Hills in Mbita, Mfangano Island, Homa Hills, Ndere Island, Kodera Forest, Manga Hills, Kakamega Forest Trail, and Torok Waterfalls.

Hike Masters was founded during the Covid-19 lockdowns of 2020. The founding members embarked on morning runs build stamina and stop Covid-19 on its tracks.

“After the morning runs became a routine, we decided to explore other options and hiking was one of them. Since Nairobi was under lockdown, we thought it wise to explore this other side of the republic,” explained Mr Obare.

The group’s first hike was at the famous Torok Waterfalls in Elgeyo Marakwet County.

Mr Kennedy Mong’ina, a hiker from Nyamira, used the event to urge the local community in Manga to avoid mining stones on the tourist attraction site as a way of protecting the environment.

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