Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Kilimanjaro - Day 6

Tuesday, August 30th was our first full day on the mountain.  The plan from last night was to get a wake up "call" at around 6:30am, get ready for the day (which involved packing up our sleeping bags, pads and putting away everything we didn't want to carry for the day).  At 8am we were to have breakfast and then head out for the day.
The first morning on the mountain I woke up, all by myself (!), shortly after 6.  Around 6:30 Goodlove came by to officially wake us up and serve us hot coffee, tea or anything else we wanted (yup, hot drinks served in bed).  Goodlove was our main camp helper and everyone except me and Nigel referred to him as "Blackie" (guess why we didn't).

Goodlove with Nigel

You'd think Nigel spent the previous night drinking
After about an hour of waking up we got all our stuff packed up and ready.  My sleeping bag was soaked from the moisture in the air and I spent the rest of the morning worrying how I'm going to sleep the next night (ended up being a non-issue - I had plenty of time to dry out my sleeping bag when we got to our second camp).  By the time we were done breakfast wasn't quite ready yet so we walked around the campsite for a while admiring awesome views of the Kilimanjaro's summit (first time this trip we got to see our final destination).  The weather was perfect - clear, blue skies, very comfortable weather (we were above the clouds at this point, so that helped).

Kilimanjaro summit - our first view
The small white dot is a hot air balloon - there were five or six of them floating way high up above Kilimanjaro
After taking some pics we cleaned up (we were given hot water to wash up every night and morning) and were ready to finally get some breakfast.  Shortly before 8 our breakfast was finally ready.  We got comfortable in our now familiar chairs and eating tent and had ourselves a nice meal consisting of cream of wheat, eggs, beef hot dogs (kind of random), toast and of course some fresh fruit.  Not bad for being 10,000 feet up.  We were joined for breakfast first by our Guide and then by Emmanuel and we discussed the plan for the day.  The schedule had us climb up on a much steeper trail than the day before for four to five hours (with lunch in between).  We would climb up to about 12,500 feet and spend our second night there.  It certainly sounded a lot more challenging that the previous day so I was really looking forward to getting started.

Breakfast took us 30-45 minutes and by 9 we were ready to head out.  We left all our stuff behind and along with Emmanuel we started our day hike.  The hike was very steadily leading us uphill and before long we were getting above most of the taller trees, which opened up some great views of the valleys below.  There were a lot of clouds below, but that didn't really take away from the views.  We pressed on for about three hours (pole-pole of course) and shortly after noon we reached the site of our lunch.  Since there's nothing to write about as far as walking is concerned here are some pics from the

By the time we reached the lunch area it started to feel like lunch - the hike while not very difficult was somewhat physically demanding (there was not a single flat area - it was up for the whole 3 hours).  At this point I also wanted to get some sunscreen on me as the sun was getting to be very hot.  
We had to wait for a little while for the rest of our group to catch up to us (and while waiting we had to sit on rocks like some kind of cavemen!!).  I walked around the area a bit, snapped some photos, debated using the lone outhouse, but eventually just settled in and tried to take a quick nap.  Shortly after our porters showed up and our lunch started to take shape.

I'll let you guess why using a bathroom was something I tried to avoid as much as possible

Our lunch being prepared

Emmanuel, Goodlove and our cook

Some sort of soup - a staple of every meal we had (it was good too)
Lunch took about an hour and a half to prepare and eat and quickly after we finished we set out to complete our hike.  The rest of the hike was a little less steep than the first few hours, but it was still somewhat more difficult than the first day.  I was glad to finally arrive at our camp about an hour after lunch.

Our tent with the summit in the background - it was cloudy when we got to the camp but cleared up within a couple hours

View of the summit from our tent
We got to the camp in the early afternoon and had a lot of time to kill before dinner.  We decided to rest up a bit and then make a short hike to Shira I - another camp about half a mile from where we were staying.  For luck of anything better to do I set up my sleeping quarters and took a well deserved nap.  I woke up a couple hours later with the worst case of a toothache I've had in a very long time.  I swallowed four Advils and found a secluded place to wait for them to start working.  Took me good 30 minutes to finally get rid of the annoying toothache and to start enjoying the rest of my afternoon.  As a precaution I would take two Advils twice a day for the rest of the trip (thankfully thanks to that my toothache never returned).
About 5pm we set out to Shira I.  It was going to be a short hike back and forth just to get us moving a bit more.  We made the round trip in about an hour and when we got back it was getting closer to dinner time.

While I was napping Nigel was trying to come up with a comfortable ways to use our makeshift outhouses - I think he successfully used this method at least one; I never gave it a chance

View of the summit from Shira I - by then the clouds were mostly gone and we had an unobstructed view of the mountain

Umm ... my feet?
We got back to our camp shortly before sunset.  It was spectacular -  we had the sun going down right next to Mt Meru with Kilimanjaro summit behind us.  All that made for some great views and photo opportunities.

Cleaning up for dinner

After the sun went down for us we could still see it shining on the summit - it looked super awesome

After the sun went down it got very dark and very cold quickly.  We were glad to eat our dinner - some sort of noodles with veggies - good stuff.  our Guide joined us to talk about the next day and after an hour or so we were ready for bed.  We left the food tent to find the area around in total darkness (it was getting pretty late for mountain standards).  One upside of being away from the civilization was that the night skies were spectacular - I haven't seen this many stars in a very long time.  I tried to snap some photos, but being the great photographer I am none of them came out.  On the account of it being super cold and dark there was nothing left to do but get back to the tent and call it a day.  After getting some stuff ready for my next day I entered my now very dry sleeping bag and within minutes was completely passed out.


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