Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Conquering Kilimanjaro Part 2

Kibo on Day 3 -  at Cave 3 Camp
Day 4

This is when the hard work really started.  We woke up to a blanket of snow covering the mountain.   The wet snow pelting our faces as we struggled to walk (pole pole) from 4000 meters to 4700 meters.  
Kibo on the morning of Day 4
We reached Kibo camp by 2pm, that's when reality hit - I was not in Kansas anymore.  

Pole Pole in the cold wet conditions to Kibo
The weather went from bad to worse, sleeting and hailing down in all directions.  Kibo is the "hub" of Kilimanjaro where all the trampers are coming up and down the mountain from different directions.  We came via the Rongai Route which was one of the lesser used tracks.  We had only seen a few groups along the way, it was relatively quiet.  But Kibo was another story.  It was chaos!

There were groups of trampers coming and going.  Our porters were frantically trying to assemble tents and set up camp in the wet snow.  The place was buzzing with languages from all parts of the world as people had come to this place for their own personal reasons and conquests.

I was tired, cold, wet and grumpy.  I stood there taking it all in and waiting for my tent to be assembled as my bags got wetter and wetter.  I thought,  "What on earth am I doing here?"  Reality hit like a tonne of bricks.  "If that last 4 hours was hard, what the heck is tonight going to feel like?"

By the time my tent was up, it was soaking wet inside and out and totally covered in mud.  I'm not normally the precious princess type but I looked at it and thought, "You can't seriously expect me to sleep in there?"  There was a large puddle inside and wet mud smeared up the walls.

The porters are amazing and as soon as I thought it, I instantly felt ungracious.  These guys work their butts off for us for only a few measly dollars a day.  It's not their fault the weather is miserable.  They are hammering metal pegs into the hard frozen ground with rocks without any gloves on their hands and I'm complaining about the mud.

Arriving at Kibo Hut to sign in

Signing the register at Kibo
One of the guys saw the look on my face.  He got inside, mopped it up for me, gave me a smile as he took my bag and placed it inside encouraging me in after it.  I was so grateful, "Asante Sana (Thank you so much)" to which he replied, "Karibu (Welcome)" and went to help some other complaining hiker who needed their zipper fixed.  I was exhausted.  I organized my gear for the summit that night and then rested until we were called for lunch. I could have fallen asleep if I wasn't so hungry.  Whoever said altitude suppresses appetite is wrong!  I was ravenous the whole time.  

And the food was really good.  Our cooks were genius.  I still can't figure out how they did it.  Our dining tent was beautifully set for every meal.  The attention to detail was impressive.  This was not "roughing it".  This was ultimate camping.

To be continued...

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