Oct 25 – Day 1
I met with my group and was surprised to find that one of the three hikers is from the Big Island. The other two are a brother and sister from New York. We had a relatively easy day, hiking through lush green rainforest, with giant trees slathered in dripping moss. It was an elevation gain of about 5,000 ft. to get to Machame Camp, our home for tonight, at 10,000 ft. Our porters beat us to the camp, and everything was set up for us when we arrived. I am sharing a tent with the other girl in our group. We also have a large tent for eating and a bathroom tent with a portable toilet inside. Dinner was great – leek soup with fish and veggies.
Oct 26 – Day 2
Today’s hike was pretty rough. It was only half a day and we went slow, but it was a steep, constant, rocky uphill. The trekking poles I rented went missing and my ankle started hurting about halfway through the hike. It began to rain today, not hard, but a cold, biting rain. We are at Shira Camp now, at 12,600 ft., and I am already freezing cold. Hot drinks are brought to our tent as soon as we wake up to start our day.
Oct 27 – Day 3
It was a long hike to Barranco Camp at 13,000 ft. because we did an acclimatization trek to the lava tower at 15,000 ft. I took my altitude sickness medication in the morning and immediately felt nauseous, but started out in the freezing cold after a breakfast of hot porridge and peanut butter toast. About an hour into our ascent, a light hail began to fall. It got heavier and colder so I decided to put on my thick gloves. I held one in my mouth as I put on the other, and when I took it from my teeth there were brigh red blood stains on my white glove. I was bleeding from the mouth. Our guide said that this is a side effect of the altitude medication and I must stop taking it.
It hailed almost the entire day as we continued uphill through barren, rocky terrain, with heavy, white mist sweeping low and fast over the ground. Finally we reached our lunch spot, the lava tower, a vertical stone formation rising above the desolate landscape. We sat shivering in our dining tent as we waited patiently for lunch. We were all so, so cold and tired, but the hot soup and burgers gave us the energy to get down to the next camp. It was a difficult descent, steep, rocky, and wet, past trickling waterfalls and giant plants that looked like they belonged in the age of the dinosaurs. Soon the camp came into view, with the massive Barranco Wall looming above, which we must climb tomorrow, portions of which will be the only technical climbing of the trek. From camp we can see the summit in the distance, beckoning, daring us to come near. I crawl into my down sleeping bag cold, dirty, sore, and exhausted, apprehensive of what lies ahead.
africa, kilimanjaro, travel, trekking