Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Kilimanjaro: Day 5: Barafu to Uhuru Peak to Mweka

Sat Feb 9th, 2013
Barafu Camp (4600 m)
We were woken up at 12 am and got ourselves ready before heading to the mess tent for ouji and cookies and tea/coffee/milo. We got out water and then we were off! 5-ish hours walking uphill at a slow pace in the cold. It was incredible when we first started because we could see the line of headlights leading up the mountain. The stars were absolutely awe inspiring. Once we got high enough we could see the entire city of oshi lit up. Such a crazy view. We took our breaks, we passed other groups (I got rudely spoken to by another climber for passing him even though my guide was physically pushing me), and we sang songs and made small talk. I tried to keep myself from thinking about how much further we had to walk by writing this entry in my head and thinking about what I would do when I got home (answer: take a hot bath and stay in it until the water goes cold, buy and eat an entire footlong sub). We saw two people being brought back down the mountain and we saw several people sitting to the side puking their little hearts out. One from our group threw up his breakfast. For the most part no one else really complained about the altitude - escept one or two (including John) who felt light headed, and one who felt tight chested. I popped an advil before we left and I didn't even have a glimmer of a headache/
After walking for 5 hours, the sun began to rise. Never have I seen a more beautiful sunrise in my entire life. From up that high it seemed almost magical.

We finally made it to Stella Point and that sign was a welcome sight after such a grueling walk. I thought to myself that this was what exhaustion felt like.

We finished watching the sun come up, switched off our headlmaps, and took a few pictures. Then we walked for about 45 mins around the edge of the crater to the summit. Beside us was the most beautiful and impressive glacier I've ever seen. Also the only glacier I've ever seen but I doubt many could top it. Walking to Uhuru Peak I started out with a burst of excited energy but before long I was walking 'pole pole' for no other reason than I was exhausted.


 Finally reaching the summit was an incredible feeling. Even more incredible was that all 8 of our group made it to the sumit. We got some nice group photos.

I was starving so I sat down and ate a granola bar. No one ese had any appetite. I obviously have reverse mountain sickness. Once we got our pictures and hugged our guides, we made our way back down - which took about 3 hours from summit to the camp.

At the top I had on 3 pairs of pants, 2 gloves and hand warmers, and 7 layers of shirts and jackets. By the time we got back to Barafu I was ready to strip down to my underwear. We essentially slid down a sandy, rocky hill for about an hour, then carefully picked our way down through rocks. Finally getting back to camp was an amazing feeling. We lay down for a nap then packed up. We have lunch then we will walk again for awhile to our last camp for dinner. Where I will sleep like a baby.
Such a tiring day but so rewarding. Haji told me at the summit, "so piece of cake, right? (I said no) I know, but if I told you how hard it was none of you would have gotten out of your tents."
8:00 pm
Mweka Camp (3100 m)
So we walked another 18 km to our final camp. That's crazy. We walked 40 km today. Haji said that to the summit and back was about 22 km. Insane! As we left barafu it started to snow and it snowed for about the first hour of our 5 hour walk.

Then it turned to rain, then it let up and we had some sunshine. The walk was all downhill but it was hard on our knees and feet and toes, especially after coming back down from 5895 m to around 4600 m. We talked a lot about our experience getting to the summit - a lot of people had hallucinations, would never do it again, etc. Personally, I don't think I'd ever do it again but I'm SO glad I did it. It was incredibly tough and easily the hardest, most challenging thing I've done. But it was also the most amazing. I'm so proud of myself for reaching the summit. I'm proud of our group for all getting there. And I'm proud of John for getting to the top.
The world's highest free standing mountain!
Then we hiked another 18 km down rocky trails on only a few hours nap (about 30 mins for me). I bathed my feet when I got here. Then we had crepes and potato/vegetable soup, rice with chicken and sauce and mango and bananas. It felt so nice to sit and eat and drink hot tea. Right now I'm in my sleeping bag, ready for a looooong sleep tonight. Shane negotiated with Haji and got us an extra hour of sleep in the morning. Wake up call at 7 am!
We're back down at a low altitude so everyone's in good spirits. Tomorrow after breakfast we walk for about 3 hours to the bus that will bring us back to the hotel. I'm sad that this adventure is coming to an end but I can't wait to take a shower and sleep on a mattress again. Plus - next up is the safari!


No comments:

Post a Comment