Oct 28 – Day 4
Last night our lead guide Ema gave us the option to summit in five days instead of six. I am tired of being cold and sleeping on the ground, so I’m all for getting out of here a day early. But this would mean a double hike today, with a stop for lunch where we would normally camp, then continuing on to our highest camp and waking up at 11PM to begin the summit attempt. So this morning we set out to climb the Barranco Wall, which was my favorite part of the trip so far. It was a near-vertical scramble the whole way up, over loose rock. I was amazed at how the porters could do it with their heavy loads. At lunch I started feeling really nauseous and had diarrhea. I didn’t eat much and felt weak during our afternoon hike, which was uphill over rocky terrain through mist and rain. We are now at Barafu Camp, perched precariously on an exposed ridge at 15,200 ft. It is the coldest, most desolate camp yet, and I start to question why I ever wanted to do this. My body is completely physically exhausted; my mind just feels numb. My only consolation is that no matter what happens, tomorrow we will be heading down.
Oct 29 – Day 5 (Summit Day)
Today we were awakened at 11PM to find the entire ridge and camp blanketed in snow. After a light breakfast we set out at 12:30 into the darkness and falling snow, for our summit attempt. The trail was steep, rocky, and icy, and I still had an upset stomach, but I kept climbing, climbing, one foot in front of the other, sometimes slipping back a step, sometimes nearly falling from dizziness. There were hundreds of others on the mountain trying for the summit, some of them collapsed on the side of the trail. Soon I became very weak and the rest of my group moved ahead as I stumbled and gasped for breath. I was left in the hands of our most experienced guide, Damien, who has summited more than 250 times, once in only two days. If anyone can get me to the top, it is Damien, and he takes my pack and encourages me slowly forward. Hours pass and I concentrate on placing one foot slowly in front of...
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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...
africa, kilimanjaro, travel, trekking
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