A Long Slog to a High Camp….
We had made the decision to go to a higher camp than originally planned for the day which meant a significantly longer hike to over 15,000 ft where we’d spend the night (higher than I’d ever been, let alone slept, before). The porters who are carrying their own backpacks plus waterproof duffels on their heads have to break down camp after we leave for the day, pass us on the trail and have camp all set up for when we arrive. They are simply amazing. Two guides start off with us each morning and the third guide supervises the breakdown of camp and joins us at some point during the day. We have Mike, Michael and Emanuel guiding us and they are great. They’re constantly checking on our well being which includes a pulse ox and heart rate each morning and night, but most medical personal reading this would be shocked to know that the cutoff is 50% on the pulse ox. Lindsay said that if she ever said “hakuna matata” to a patient with a pulse ox of 50 in the hospital without calling a code she’d be fired!
The morning views of Kilimanjaro at sunrise were incredible – it was clear as a bell without a cloud in the sky. We started our hike after breakfast passing the original campsite we were supposed to stay at that night by a little after 11 am. The afternoon was a very long gradual uphill hike to the Lava Tower Camp and we were all very sore and drained when we arrived. We relaxed in our tents as it was too cold and windy outside and then assembled in the mess tent for hot chocolate and popcorn. As a simply amazing sunset gradually developed to the west looking at Mt. Meru which is the same height as our camp sticking up above a layer of clouds as the sun slowly sunk into the horizon and lit up the sky in a full palette of colors.
It became very, very cold after sunset and we all awaited dinner in the mess tent as the wind began to blow at what seemed like near hurricane strength and battered the tent while all the porters ran around securing the guide wires so we wouldn’t blow away. I think my telling everyone that we were in the same expedition tents used on Everest somehow didn’t entirely ease their minds. After a dinner of cream of celery soup and spaghetti with meat sauce we all ran to our tents to crawl into our sleeping bags except for me who is crazily typing this blog while the wind is really whipping my tent every few minutes. It’s an interesting experience and even more so when I know I’ll have to get up at some point (or two or three) during the night due the Diamox I’m taking to prevent altitude sickness and run out of my tent only to endure the cold and wind.