18 April 2016

The Up's and Down's of Mt. Kilimanjaro - Part 8

12 February 2016, Friday
Day 5

Karanga Valley – Barafu Camp

4-5hrs, about 4km
Start: 3950m (12 960ft), End: 4550m (14 920ft)

I slept surprisingly well, despite my leaky tent. When I woke up, it wasn’t raining and there wasn’t much wind.

Yesterday I hit a low. I was fed up. Not even food cheered me up. I like the rain and the outdoors, but not sopping wet clothes. In Botswana if you get caught in a rainstorm, it is still warm enough that you will be dry within an hour. I don’t know what the temperature up here is, but it’s cold!
^ Waking up to a beautifully clear day! v

At one point yesterday, I just sat in the mess tent with S and read my book while he fiddled with his iPad. Then we got chatting. He is from the States, and I am planning a holiday there in 2018. So we spoke about things to do. Amazing, sitting at almost 4000m, discussing a world that by now, felt a million miles away.
We also spoke about the hierarchy of needs, and how they have changed since our first day on the mountain.
My first and only photo of the inside of the mess tent
From wifi and electricity, to a head torch, to somewhere warm and relatively soft to sleep, to just wanting to be dry and somewhat warm. Creature comforts, what’s that?
Breaking camp

The registration off with Mt. Meru in the background

Today was a short climb, but it took me a while to find my groove.
It wasn’t too steep or rocky, which was a relief, but I was mentally drained, and it had started to drizzle. I was ready to cry. Again.

Our guides are inspirational. They somehow motivated us to keep a good pace so that we got to the next camp before the real rain hit. And we did. What a relief!

Lunch was good, as usual. But today we were treated to toasted cheese and tomato sarmies (sandwiches), which I hadn’t had in ages. It is also warm, so the mess tent is like a green house. “Literally” as S said, as the tent is green. We all cracked up at that. Everything is funny when you’re sitting at 4500m.
Other campers a little further up at Barafu Camp

Our campsite

Our guide has briefed us. We will start our 6 hour trek to the Summit at midnight. Time to rest before dinner, which will be at 17:30.
Toilets on a ledge.
...A few hours later...

It’s about 16:40
I managed to get a couple hours’ sleep. About 40 minutes ago the crew started making a racket; they’re playing cards.
There was a bit of rain and even sleet, but now the sun is shining. It heated up my tent nicely, so a lot of my gear has dried, which I am very happy about. My gloves aren’t quite there yet, but at least they are no longer dripping water…
I think I will wear socks as mittens over the other two pairs of gloves I have, and then put plastic bags over my hands as water-proofing.

I will have to pack the stuff that has dried before dinner, otherwise it just gets damp as the temperature plummets. My pants from yesterday are still wet though.
Mawenzi Peak as clouds race up the mountain
The crew has been amazing. Hauling what must 15-25kg loads, and still being chirpy despite being drenched in rain. Every day they break camp after we have left, allowing us a 40 minute head-start, and overtake us to have the next camp set up long before we arrive. Most of these guys don’t even have hiking boots and wear worn-out ‘tekkies’ with no laces.
I feel bad that I can’t tip them more.
I had set aside a certain amount, but now I think I will give them everything I have left in my wallet.
You can't not appreciate this view!

Second-last dinner on the mountain.
I am sad, but so happy!
We had a good dinner, and talked all sorts of nonsense. From fears about the summit, to what music to listen to. Adele’s Hello had as all snorting into our cocoa with laughter.

Amazing view of cumulonimbus clouds building below us. We can also see Mawenzi Peak. As the clouds build, the thunder rumbles. The mountain is angry again, like it was on our first day. Perhaps she can sense that she is almost rid of us. Or maybe she is giving us a warning, a taste of what is to come.

Either way, I snuggle deep into my sleeping bag, looking forward to a few hours’ rest.

Mother Nature treated us to the most amazing cloud formations as the sun started to set

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