October 4 – Out of the rain forest…

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Leaving the rain forest and on to Shira Camp 1….

I actually slept pretty well until around 2:30 when I awoke to nature’s call only to find Lindsay and Danielle chatting and giggling in their tent and then beating me to the punch for the bushes. I sat in my tent and was eventually able to take care of things along with checking on them to make sure all was OK. We all eventually fell asleep amid the monkey cries and other unfamiliar noises of the forest.

Tea and coffee were brought to us at 6:30 after which we had to do our packing so they could break down the tents and pack our duffels while we were having breakfast. The breakfast was delicious with fresh fruit, oatmeal porridge, toast, crepes, scrambled eggs with onions, and sausage (which is really a hot dog, but is referred to as a sausage here in Tanzania). It was a relaxing visit and we even had an unexpected visitor in the form a large (and brave) blue monkey who stood at the doorway of our mess tent waiting for a handout from one of us. Had it been a baboon we would have been in real trouble.

A very large blue monkey

A very large blue monkey

Our group as we leave on our journey for real - Me, Jeff, Nick, Danielle, Lindsay, 3 guides and 19 porters...

Our group as we leave on our journey for real – Me, Jeff, Nick, Danielle, Lindsay, 3 guides and 19 porters…

Our hike began around 9 am and was supposed to take us 6 to 8 hours to reach our next camp. The first hour or so was through the remainder of the forest, but we soon broke out into a much more open terrain composed of brush and grasses.

Along the trail

Along the trail

After an hour or so, though, it was almost all uphill and much of it quite steep with steps cut into the hill. We traveled for hours uphill along a ridge line and eventually reached a flatter portion of today’s hike and took a lunch break. The views looking westward were amazing as were the clouds below us that were continually being pushed upward with the prevailing winds. As we turned one corner, a portion of the massive bulk that is Kibo Peak came into view though the clouds still shrouded the summit in such a teasing manner as the clouds merely swirled without revealing our goal. We arrived into camp earlier than expected and I think the guides were actually impressed with the pace we maintained throughout the day.

Relaxing at sunset with a view of the mountain

Relaxing at sunset with a view of the mountain

We spent the afternoon relaxing in camp and did take a little walk to explore as if we hadn’t already done enough walking today. While sitting in the mess tent with our hot chocolate and popcorn we studied the map of our upcoming days to see what we had gotten ourselves into. Emanuel, our head guide, came into the tent about that time and when we began discussing our upcoming plans with him he offered to use a different schedule that he thought would work better for us. It’s all about aclimitizing and the summit day and we could change our plans while allowing more time to aclimatize and give us more time in our final camp before our summit bid to rest and get ready since we’ll be leaving at midnight for that portion of the hike. Part of the reason for his offer, though, was due to the fact that we had been covering more miles than expected each day. So tomorrow we’ll be heading to the Lava Tower Camp which will take 7 to 8 hours and will be getting up bright and early at 6 am for coffee and then pack and breakfast at 7 am.

After sunset, in the nightglow, the mountain awaits...

After sunset, in the nightglow, the mountain awaits…

Dinner was an amazing fresh pumpkin soup, followed by a main course of pepper steak, rice, vegetable stew and pineapple. Another meeting with Emanuel to review our plans for tomorrow and to check our pulse oximetry and pulse rate to make sure we’re doing well. We all passed. Off to bed now…..

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