25 Kilometres in 5 hours!

April 24, 2013

The first mud bath was dealt with quite easily and as we exited the hurdle we unhitched the Cruiser and went back to Imp steam. The Cruiser following close and watchfully behind. Geoff was in his element flicking the nimble Imp through the various little mud baths and then riding with one wheel up on the fast drying massive mud ridges left by the articulated and double and triple axel trucks so as not to cause too much damage to the underside of the car. I was excitedly whooping and lauding him on his consummate driver skills as he sped through the easy spots and brought it down to crawling pace for the tricky bits and when the going got too sticky he would resign gracefully and have Eddie line up the Toyota while Terence hopped out IN THE MUD AND FLOOD to hitch up the readymade tow hitch which was gathered loosely in the passenger front floor well.

Our happiness soon turned to deep worry. We had managed to get through some quite tricky areas with the help of Eddie’s consummate skill as a 4×4 driver and skilful tower but we then began having problems with the design of the imp and in particular the fact that we had opted for 13 inch tyres with a high profile which meant that the clearance between the wheel and the bodywork was almost non-existent. In fact my fingers would not pass between the tyre and the mudguard! So with the mud gathering it was bad enough because it was extremely sticky almost like glue, but when the mud was then mixed with stones and gravel pieces the wheels began to jam. In fact at one stage we were barrelling along under our own power and all of a sudden the back wheels just started to spin without moving us forward! To remedy this we had to get out with the spade and vigorously dig the mud and gravel out of the little space between the tyre and the mudguard. Admittedly one or three stabs with the spade went slightly astray and the paintwork said a loud OUCH! But paint was not a priority at this juncture.

Take into account that the previous day a fully laden 44 Seater bus came flying slip sliding past the construction site where we were staying and had got stuck solidly in the mud not far from where we were and the next day when we eventually got to where it was still jammed we found the Red Cross delivering food and water to the passengers who had already been days on the road from Marsabit on their hopeful way to Moyale. So I realised that although we had startout our journey as a fine adventure it suddenly dawned on us that this fun adventure could very easily become a real case of life or death for us! We very quickly realised that we needed to ration our drinking water very carefully trying to gauge when we would next be able to purchase more provisions.

However with the going getting tougher and tougher we were looking down the barrel! With more and more trucks being forced to stay stuck fast in the mud the inevitable was starting to dawn on us, and with about only six or eight kilometres covered in a couple of hours we hit a huge snag; the cruiser also got stuck with no way out! So with a Hillman Imp stuck solidly half-shaft deep in mud preceded with a towing Toyota Landcruiser also stuck up to its axels it was game over! Game over for normal folk that is, but for the likes of Steve and Eddie who were selflessly determined to see us through because without help we would have been sorely wanting. So with the Cruiser and Imp ground to a halt, Eddie and Steve quickly negotiated with a massive tipper truck to come to our aid so with a three way tow we were again crawling forward towards Moyale.

Then disaster struck, while being towed the Imp took an almighty blow on the front underside that bent the steering arm almost in two, this caused another stop and delay while we jacked up the Imp and adjusted the arm out to the very last possible threads on the adjustment arm. Still the wheels pointed drastically in towards each other. Back to towing however as we knew it was our only hope; we still had over one hundred kilos of this monster road to conquer.

The next challenge was the massive dip in the track before Turbi where the bridge had been washed away and the only way was down an extremely sharp incline and an immediate accent of an equally sharp incline. Edie stopped at the cusp of the precipice and as I was about to get out of the Imp and admit that there would be absolutely NO WAY the Imp would make this obstacle, the Cruiser roared into angry life and whisked us towards the deep ditch as it can only be described. Geoff stoically stuck to his task of aiming the Imp in the general direction of the Cruiser and as we miraculously exited the mud hole, still in one piece, we levelled out behind the Toyota shaking our heads in disbelief at what had just happened. While we were catching our breath we watched in complete disbelief that the Cruiser was now towing us straight through the one and a half metre deep river. Well nothing to it Geoff simply followed and shook his head in further disbelief as he exited yet another unbelievable challenge. The following 2 kilometre muddy section was an easy ride in comparison with what we had just had to endure.

The 20 or so kilometres had taken all of about five hours. So with the Imp front end in a broken shape we decided to stay in Turbi to carry out the necessary repairs and plan our way forward.



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