Saturday, February 23, 2013

Kilimanjaro: Day 3 - Shira to Barranco

Feb. 7, 2013.       7:40 pm
Barranco Camp (3940 m)
So this might be officially the earliest I've ever been in bed without having worked a night shift prior. We woke up this morning at 6 (standard), had tea in the tent, got our hot water bowls to wash up with, then met in the mess tent for breakfast. Ooji (the porridge), toast, omelettes, hotdogs, and mango. Then we got our bagged lunches and were ready to go.

We hiked 18 km today. Left around 8:15 and got to camp around 3:15. We ascended up to 4500 m from our camp at 3850 m to the lava tower (*Lava Tower may actually be somewhere closer to 4800 m - I've seen varying elevations) which is this amazingly huge rock that John said looks like an oversized Pride Rock (from the Lion King).

We started out the day warm and sunny (John was in a t-shirt) but then the clouds rolled in over us and it became incredibly misty. We descended from the Lava tower down a really foggy, treacherously rocky slope. But the rain started just as we were about 5 mins away from the camp so we avoided getting really damp.

Our group is awesome and really supportive of one another. The two feeling the altitude were in bad form today - tons of headaches and both threw up again. But they managed to rally and started feeling better. We were singing a lot of movie theme songs today and some Bon Jovi. At dinner I think we were all feeling a bit tired/feeling the altitude because we got the giggles really bad. It's nice to get along with everyone so well.
The terrain quickly changed as we left Shira camp (which has been my favourite so far). We woke up the clouds had drifted away and we got the most amazing view of the summit. Also of Mt. Meru in the distance.

It's too cloudy tonight to see any stars or even really to see the Barranco wall that we'll be tackling tomorrow. We caught a glimpse of it coming in and it looks terrifyingly large.
Once we got under way on our hike the heather-moorland quickly disapeared and we were in the alpine desert zone. The plants look exactly like what you'd expect to see in the desert. At a few points it felt like we were on Mars - red soil and only rocks.
Once we got back down to our camp we saw a ton of these strange trees that I've been calling Giant Pineapple Trees. Because they look like giant pineapples growing on trees.
So far John and I have been doing well. No headaches or sickness. John did have a bit of trouble finishing his dinner which is a common altitude issue. I apparently can't NOT eat and finished my plate plus the rest of John's. We had carrot soup and crepes, then pasta with a beef sauce which was delicious. We're being fed very well. Our lead guide seems pretty sure we'll all make it to the summit.
Speaking of that - tomorrow we hike 4 ish hours up Barranco wall then stop for a hot lunch. Then another 2 ish hour hike to our base camp. Oncethere we'll eat dinner then go directly to sleep. We'll be woken around 11 so we're ready to go at midnight and then we push for the summit doing about 1 km an hour. (*note: our guide lied to me and told me it was only 6 km from our camp to the summit. It was 11 km). 6 hrs to Stella Point then 1 hr to Uhuru Peak. I'm excited but so nervous.
So far this has been the most exciting and exhilirating thing I've ever done. Fingers crossed I make it to the summit!
Now... I guess to sleep! We've got a 16 km hike and a super big wall to climb tomorrow. Our guide keeps saying it'll be a "piece of cake" but we suspect he's lying to keep our spirits up.

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