Wednesday, June 18, 2014

“Are You My Mother?”

When I packed my backpack for Kili I took a small notepad, because I figured I would write down important details along the way that I wanted to remember.  In the end I carried it all over the mountain and never once did I write anything.  So, based upon my potentially inaccurate memory I would estimate we hiked twenty-five (25) hours on day 1.  The tough part about day 1 was that when we arrived at camp it was freezing and raining, so it was practically impossible to get warm.  On day 2 I woke up feeling horrible; actually I woke up every day of the trip feeling like I was at death’s door; and debating how much I really wanted to continue.  But I rallied and started out with the group like nothing was amiss.

Day 2 started out really tough, but ended well.  Mt. Kilimanjaro is unique because it crosses over 5 different climatic zones.  On day 1 we hiked in the cultivated zone, and then day 2 was almost entirely rainforest.  A rainforest is called a rainforest for a reason: because it rains. A LOT.  In addition to the rain we were climbing very steep, slippery rock faces.  This picture does not represent the terrain well, but at one point there was a good 100 meters of nothing but nearly smooth rock going up at about a 60 degree angle.  It was terrifying.  Fortunately our guides were there to help tell us where to place our feet and lend a hand when we needed it.  Here is a view looking down the rock face:
And here is a photo looking up during the rainforest portion of our climb.  As you can see it was very misty:
The good thing though is that as you climb a mountain you get higher, meaning you eventually climb out of each climate zone. We ended day 2 in the heath and moorlands, so the final hour of our hike was actually very enjoyable.  In fact, by that point I was feeling much better about the whole situation and felt like I could have kept going.  As we began approaching camp I stopped to take come pictures; the group kept walking.  Here was one of the pics I was taking:
I could see camp and my group in front of me, so when I finished taking photos I followed, but quickly lost them as they were too far away.  The thing about wandering into camp is that there are tents everywhere.  And somehow they all look the same.  They are either orange or green.  When I open my Kilimanjaro climbing operation (haha, yeah, right!) we will have pink and purple tents so you can easily tell them apart from others.  I ended up wandering around from camp to camp for about 20 minutes asking people if they knew where the Hidden Valley Climbing Company had set up camp.  I felt like the little bird in the book Are You My Mother? as I went camp to camp asking, “Are you my friend?  Do you know me?  Do you know anyone who knows me?” Fortunately one of my guides found me and led me to our campsite.  I would have never found it otherwise.  It was a great location and we were secluded from the other tents at Shira Camp. This photo was taken from a ways away, but our tents are in the foreground and then all across the top of the picture you can see the 100+ tents of the other climbers on the ridge above our camp:
The best part was that we had a great unobstructed view.  This is not Kilimanjaro, this is the second highest peak in Tanzania:


  1. Gutsy, VERY gutsy.
    How is everyone??

  2. Did you have a tent to yourself? Is there a picture of this portable toilet? Why don't they just install a gondola to the top? Where is a picture from the top of Kili? Did you take the TTU flag with you? How are you?

  3. Thank you Anonymous.

    Bryce, yes, I had a tent to myself. I don't think I actually took a picture of the portable toilet, but I will double check and will post a picture of it if I find it. I don't know why they don't install a gondola to the top, probably because This Is Africa. Stay tuned for my post tomorrow about the top of Kili. Yes, I took the TTU flag with me, but forgot to take a picture with it. I'm AWESOME! :)