The Kilimanjaro Climb- Day 1 and Day 2
My arrival to the Springlands Hotel in Moshi, Tanzania (the base for Mt. Kilimanjaro climbers) was a day earlier than our group meeting. The plan was to relax and get together all my climbing gear. I rented a parka (the bright green blob coat), hiking poles, a giant bag for the porter to carry my stuff, and big puffy mittens. Guests at the hotel were either starting their Kilimanjaro climb or just climbed down. Those who just climbed down were a wealth of information and distress as most of the stories were not good.
One guy mentioned that his wife had hypothermia at the top which led to my realization that my layers of sweaters and raincoats were probably not good enough, hence my giant green blob coat rental. I also overheard a kind of a twerpy guy who needed to tell his friends via Skype over and over about his hellish climb. What I gathered was not to worry about Day 1 because it was the easiest but to fear Day 2; which was the hardest day. Did I mention he was a twerp and should have realized he was not a good source of information?!
Day 1 started at the Machame Route gate. We took a lot of photos while we all signed in the logbook and our group leader prepared our porters.
Check out that sexy trekking outfit:
The porters will carry quite heavy loads (around 20 kgs or 44 lbs.) up the mountain every day while we just have to carry ourselves and our daypacks. We were allowed to bring 15 kilograms of personal stuff maximum- I weighed in at 12 kgs. (pat on the back)
After an hour of checking in we set off for the day’s Kilimanjaro climb. We were to ascend from 1800 meters to about 2900 meters through the rainforest in about 6 hours (with breaks). The trail today was clear cut paths that could get muddy if you are there during rainy season. It was very dry for us so that was nice. No gators necessary.
The altitude and hike itself doesn’t seem like much but it was enough to make me want to turn around and call it done. Day 1 was by far my hardest day (besides summit night). I immediately had altitude sickness, desperately wanted to either vomit or pass out, and was ravenous for a granola bar I forgot to put in my daypack (rookie move Andrea!). For me altitude sickness felt like you drank whiskey the night before on an empty stomach- it was a bad hangover. Headache, stomach in knots, nauseous, all those fun hangover things! My group didn’t know me very well yet and probably thought I was the weak link. That day I sure was. I walked in the back of the group (although we were all together), did not speak, and just grunted if someone needed a response to a question. Friendly and outgoing I was not.
Also, altitude sick Andrea does not take out her camera for pictures either. Oops!
We did make it to camp before dinner and I promptly took an hour nap and took more of my altitude sickness acclimatization pills- Diamox. I love Diamox! After my hour nap and Diamox hit, I was as good as new (pretty much)- ready to take on Kilimanjaro!
(day 2 smiles- I’m not sick anymore!)
Day 2- the hard day (supposedly) was so much easier than Day 1! It could be because my altitude sickness cleared up and the views were getting better and better. We are way above the clouds at this point which made for a sunny, warmish hike. It was gorgeous.
Our campsite that night had a beautiful sunset.
Tentland, Night 2
Temperatures are falling at night past freezing and I’ve taken to sleeping in long johns, long sleeves, warm sweater, thick socks, and my ski hat. Even then I barely slept because 1) my feet were so cold (even in socks) tucked away in my super-warm sleeping bag and 2) the mattress pads that they assured us would be comfortable are giving me bruises on my hips whenever I roll on my side. Every 20 minutes I have to switch sides (apparently I’m not a good back sleeper).
But the views are getting prettier! Up, up, up we go!