Nevertheless, it was with renewed excitement that I woke up the next day. We made an early start for the Kuru Hills. Gray was out here mapping the vegetation for the whole of West Africa. He was trying to teach various agencies in each of the country’s his techniques but still him and his colleagues had to do the bulk of the work. I admired his techniques of interpreting the landscape and mapping the different types of vegetation and land use on the surface, and I wanted to see how he did his field work, keen to pick up some tips.
One of the national park rangers from the Kilimi-Outamba Park joined us in Fintonia and we travelled north from the village , past Sumata where we had been stranded by the fallen tree the previous year. The road was permanently diverted round the remains of our tree and the tree itself was now overgrown. We passed a couple of hamlets and the village of Yana, then Gray and the driver started talking about where the turn off was. He spotted it no problem – Gray is a supreme geographer therefore an obvious navigator. It was only 7km to the foot of the Kuru Hills but the track was narrow and potholed and it wound up and down and round and round to take the easiest route through the knobbly terrain. Gray was already working as we went along. He had spotted a series of strips of vegetation that looked more uniform than most of the forest and they appeared to be along this route we were taking now. We looked around to spot we were traversing along a narrow strip of rubber trees. To our left the natural forest could be seen starting again only about 30m away, and about the same distance to the right we could see scrub and a view out over the plain below these foothills of the Kuru range. It seemed that the track we were on would have been to service these trees and ship the timber back to the coast. The villages we passed through close to the end of our journey had most probably sprung up because of the road, not vice versa.