Dana waiting at the Uganda Wildlife Authority's Nkuringo office for the trek to begin:
Dana and the porters I hired to carry our backpacks. We didn't need them to carry our packs, but hiring them -- Enock, next to Dana, and Jeffrey, on the right -- meant infusing 15 bucks per porter into the local mountaintop village economy. Enock and Jeffrey were lovely and added greatly to our trek experience. They smiled nonstop for seven hours. (So did we, pretty much.)
Nearing the end of the trail. As I've mentioned in previous posts, the Uganda Wildlife Authority grants 40 gorilla permits per day. Groups of eight humans visit each of Uganda's five habituated bands for one hour. Our group of eight included me and Dana; four young Swedes named Joachim, Karli, Rebekka and Jens (who looked like a Navy Seal, wore shorts on the trek and seemed unbothered by the stinging nettles that attached themselves to his bare skin as he hiked); and Jon and Willy, two horribly unfit, elderly Belgians who we thought might die on the trail. Jon and Willy had hired porters, too. Prescient move: their porters ended up literally pushing the two beet-faced, panting gentlemen's butts back up the trail and out of the forest.