Thursday, October 11, 2012

Verso l'alto

  • Up at 10:45 (actually still 9.29 at this point), dressed and eating “breakfast,” hoping that this is the last porridge I’ll have to eat.  Turns out that one step at a time isn’t that hard when that’s all the farther you can see in front of you.
Just starting out, under the light of the full moon
  • Longest 5 ½ hours of my life.  (probably not really, but that’s how it felt at the time.  Not gonna sugar-coat it, I was miserable)  Froze the whole way to the top.  My trusty hand and foot warmers at least gave me peace of mind that I wasn’t getting frostbite.  Going pole pole was painful.  I wanted to go faster only because faster = warmer.  Trouble breathing from the get-go.  Not because of the thin air but because the air trapped in my stomach pushed my diaphragm against my lungs and I would’ve traded my hat and gloves for one good belch.
  • Camelbak froze around 2am, Nalgenes started freezing shortly after that.  It’s a chore to force myself to eat and drink.  When we hit Stella Point, I was so grateful to be almost done with this madness.  Hosea said “another one our and a half to two hours maybe” and I swear I wanted to punch him. (not the most Christian thought, I know, but that’s what I wrote in my journal. Blame the violent tendencies on the altitude)  Fortunately, it only felt like another 45 minutes or so, but my watch was buried under 6 layers, so who knows.
  • Summit was honestly anticlimactic.  I was just hoping that some of the pictures turned out, because that was the only thing keeping me going.  I was too cold to take my mittens off to take any of my own pics.  Too cold to get the summit bears out of my pack.  Too cold to smile.  The best part about the summit was actually just after we left the top, running into our Utah friends.  It was so wonderful to share that with them and to know that we were in it together.
Tebowing at the top
  • “Lunch” at 9:30 or so was crepe sandwiches which tasted fantastic given my ever-present nausea.  It was a steep, dusty trip down, lots of nearly rolled ankles, but we booked it to Mweka Camp and arrived an hour ahead of schedule. 
  • Meat!  Dinner included reinforcements from the bottom, so we had chicken and beef, and avocados the size of my head.  Not joking.  Said a sad, long goodbye to the Utah folks and promised to email. 

  • Early morning, but glad to be finally done with waking up in a tent and getting dressed sitting down.  Quick hike down to the bottom with only one pole (the other wouldn’t lock).  We saw monkeys, which seems minor, but turned out to be a highlight. 
  • The certificate ceremony was quite the production.  The Kiliwarriors sang and danced for us, and I actually understood the second half of the Kilimanjaro song this time. (they chant things about each of the camp sites and while I don’t know what they said about each one, I did recognize Machame, Barranco, Karanga, etc.)
I get my certificate
  • We had to wait quite a while for Peter to come get us in the fun bus to take us to our hotel for showers.  It gave us time to see the Utah folks one more time, but it also presented an easy target for all the locals selling souvenirs.  One guy told me Obama was his homeboy.  Great.  Can’t wait to get back to the States for the election hoopla.
  • We arrived at Kia Lodge to take showers and naps.  It’s hard to describe this place except to say that the emphasis is on nature.  Cabins sit amidst an array of plant life, and birds, lizards and insects are everywhere, including in the open-air restaurant during our lunch.  The shower was supposed to be a highlight of the trip but turned into a chore since the shower head was broken and the mosquito screens in the bathroom were ineffective and had me paranoid.  Still, felt good to be clean.
Lizard at the KIA Lodge
  • JRO airport is quite the novelty.  We didn’t see much of it on the way in, but they have four international “gates” which are really just doors straight out onto the tarmac.  During the three hours we were at the airport, they had two domestic flights and two international flights the whole time.  Once you go through security, that’s it.  No shops, no drinking fountain, barely a bathroom.  It was a long couple hours waiting for our flight.

  • Uneventful travel day.  Mostly spent trying to drink lots of water and trying to keep Dad from sneezing on me.  Caught up on lots of movies.  So great to be headed home.

And there you have it folks.  The trip of a lifetime, an epic adventure.

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