The Audacity of Courage; Conquering the Ngokur, Benue’s Second Highest Peak – The Conclusion.

Sports, Stories 17/03/2023 by Kugia U Kwande

Well, most of the hikers didn’t sleep. I also had cause to start my day early. I was hoping to catch the sunrise on Ngokur, the hopes of that happening was dashed as the early morning clouds descended heavy on the mountain. We drowned inside the clouds as visibility drastically reduced. But we saw Obudu town and the cattle ranch from were we stood..

Shirtless called to order the participants for our early morning ritual. Christian prayers were said by our very Rv Father Clement Igyeseh . The Moslem prayer was said by Adeta Gbenga while Icighan Kwase Honouryn Ashibi-Agber said the traditional religion prayer. All the prayers thanked God for protection and requested for peace and prosperity in the land.

Drenched in the mountain fog, we set out for the “ichugh” I Ngokur (the forehead of Ngokur), the acclaimed highest point on the mountain. We followed the same part that the donnier followed enroute crashing. The debris is still very much littered around. The trees it knocked down are still lying there.

There was a brief argument by the local guards on the best route up. Eventually we agreed to follow Kasman. It turned out to be a 20 minute climb.

By 7:25: am we peaked Ngokur!

We went on to take the measurements using the altimeter App which is 95% accurate. We checked online sources to verify the height. We got different readings but the most consistent was 812 meters that is 2336 ASL. By the count, the Ngokur is the second highest mountain after the Ayangenor, which is 966 feet or so ASL.

Knowing that over 7. 2 million inhabitants of the Benue valley were below us, the long night hectic and challenging hike was rewarded by the ecstasy we all felt. We were proud of ourselves. We made videos took pictures and lazied around the peak which was surrounded by magnificent landscapes akin to the opening scenes of the hit movie “Sound of music”. Unfortunately our view was reduced by the intense mountain fog. The wind speed read 54 MPH. Our eyelids collected water on them!

We dug and fixed the signpost. Took so more pictures. Then began the descent to the crash site where we picked pieces of the aircraft as Sourveniers.

Soon it was time to leave Ngokur. By 8:45 or thereabouts, we began the long journey down.

As we descended, we came to reality with the how high we climbed. Some members were glad that we hiked at night, they confessed that if the saw the trail during the day, they would have refused to go further. I descended in the company of Ukeyima Craig Tersoo, Shainjo Gabriel Gerald Opurun Susan, TheSixth Kusugh, Joel T. Kross, Thelma Asoo, Abagu Chinyam and a local guide.

We appreciated our efforts more with day light. The massive heights we conquered, the steep valleys etc. One after another we came down to the base station. The buses were loaded and the journey home began.

I saw tired but grateful faces. I saw people who were satisfied with their selves, proud of reaching their goal! They understood at this point that the 4 Bronze Stars on their certificate were earned. I’m sure the certificates would be a memorial for them. Today, as far as hiking in Benue is concerned, they have the highest honors. I am glad that Benue Hike Group is the vehicle that actualized this. I was a very satisfied Keeper. I was happy that BHG management provided the support for this to happen!

As I conclude, I will like to draw attention to the fact that Benue Hike Group is not done with Ngokur. We are proud to open the trail to other hikers. We were disappointed that the crashed aircraft has been vandalized almost to extinction and the memories almost lost. Our group will move to recreate a full prototype of the aircraft from waste materials and produce a plaque containing the names of the fallen heroes at the spot of the crash. We will produce a sign post and directional signs leading to the crash site.

This we believe will open the mountain up to tourism, creating employment for the villagers, and to preserve on the hills the memories of that sad day in Nigera’s history. This will be one of our gifts to the tourism sector of Benue.

We are calling for partnership to actualize this dream.

The body pains, the distance covered and heights conquered are now history. We will not bask too much in the euphoria of our achievements. Even in Benue there is one more height to conquer! The Ayangenor is waiting for us next year…

However, Nigeria’s highest peak is already calling! The expedition to Chappal Waddai is just around the corner. Ngokur was actually a rehearsal… We are crazy enough to attempt the Chappal Waddai climb, yes me and my friends who have the same mental disorder..

I thank all our sponsors and partners( this is coming in a separate write up), we thank the Benue State government, the good people of Mbakunu. We thank our potters and drivers, we thank the traditional institution, the Nigerian police force, above all members of Benue Hike Group! Without you this won’t have been possible! Let’s craze this craze again!

I invite you to join our group for hike updates and information..

Kugia u Kwande!
The Keeper, Benue Hike Group

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