Friday, March 1, 2013

Kilimanjaro: Day 6 - Mweka to the Finish

Sunday Feb. 10, 2013
Springlands Hotel, Moshi
Sleeping in until 7 am was a luxury. I slept literally until David knocked on our tent and brought us hot water. Breakfast was the standard except the ouji was a bit grainer and paler - but I still devoured it. We packed up our stuff and then the porters came together and sang 2 Kili songs for us. We got to shake hands with them but most of us went in for big hugs with lots of asante sanas.
Then we walked for about 3 hours to the end of the path where the buses were waiting. Along the way we saw black & white collubus monkeys (though hard to see very well because most of them were hiding in the trees) and blue monkeys. It made the trip feel complete.

We were very fortunate to have had good weather (a Swiss guy at dinner one night back at the hotel had told us he summited in a blizzard), to have all summited, and to have had such good people with us.

Back at the hotel we had time to shower (the most glorious shower I may have ever had), do a bit of laundry in the sink, and then to have lunch and some celebratory drinks. Haji, Nuru and Norbert came back to present us with out certificates and then a few of us cabbed into downtown Moshi to use the ATM. After tipping our guides and porters they left, and we continued to drink and reminisce until about 10 pm.
Now I'm in a king sized bed, very excited to fall asleep.
Things I would pass on to other Kili climbers:

1. Wear lots of layers. The temperature can change from wet snow to hot sun in about 30 mins.
2. Hiking poles saved our lives on slippery rocks many times - have them.
3. Get a perscription for diamox (acetazolamide). 3 of our 8 didn't take it and only one of those 3 didn't have horrible altitiude sickness. Everyone felt pretty awful at the top but I'm convinced the diamox is what kept me from feeling fine.
4. A lot of it is mind over matter. Yes, you will feel exhausted. Yes, sometimes you feel like you've reached your limit. But you haven't. When you stop and look around you and see the incredible views you're priveledged to, you realize the entire thing is worth it.
5. Be friendly. Your group are the people who get you to the top. Cheer them on and they will push for you to succeed too.
6. Respect and appreciate the porters. They will blow you away. They go twice your pace with no poles, often not really appropriate gear or clothing, and they carry 15-20 kg while they do it. They work hard for very little money. Say hello, learn their names.
7. Bring lots of meds. I almost single handedly supplied our group with ibuprofen. It is a must. You will likely get at least one headache. Bring imodium (I had the opposite problem but if you've got diarrhea you won't want to scramble up the Barranco wall), gravol, tylenol, tums (especially if you like to put hot sauce on everything like I do), etc.
8. Drink lots of water. The Swahili word for water is 'maji' and it is like magic.
9. Bring energy bars and snacks like trail mix. Our trail mix went over well with our guides. We also had candy and chocolate and people were always happy to see both of those things.
10. Bring good sunscreen and PROTECT YOUR LIPS. Half of us have very chapped lips from the sun or wind or both. It's painful. I've been rubbing everything on them to try and heal them faster.
And lastly - Enjoy every single moment. At times it felt like we'd never get to our destination (many, many times actually) but summiting is a blur and before you know it you're getting on a bus to come back to the hotel. Enjoy the views, the stars, the uncomfortable sleeps, the weird malaria pill dreams (I only had one), the amount of oxygen you realize you can take in at the lower altitudes, everything.
P.S. Bring things you can trade at the finish gate. I traded a flashlight for the two bracelets. But the winner was one of our group members who traded her bracelet for a beer!

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