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December 31: Machame Route Day Five

Monday, January 9th, 2006

It Doesn't Look That High!
Karanga Valley (3963 m/13,000 ft) to Barafu Hut (4,600 m/15,091 ft)
Hike time: 3.5 hrs
Elevation change: +600 m/+1968 ft
Estimated distance: 4km/2.5 miles
Final elevation: 4,600 m/15,091 ft

Today involves gaining a little more elevation, acclimatizing and resting for the summit attempt on the next morning.

My body is, in a word or two, falling apart. It’s not so much the things I expected – sore knees, blistered feet, etc – but the one I didn’t imagine – stomach issues, sunburned eyes with dirty contacts and a nose rubbed raw from the constant wiping. I am glad we are trying to summit tonight.

For the first time, our 3-4 hour hike only took us 3-4 hours. Today’s hike was very easy – definitely the easiest day. Many people combine it with the walk we did yesterday, which gives you both a shorter recovery time and less opportunity to adjust to the altitude. No thanks.

For the first time as well, the sun has mostly stayed out – probably exacerbating my poor eye pain! It’s actually hot in the tent for once!

I’m mostly prepared for tonight. Sean’s not sure he’s going to even attempt to summit – I hope he does, he’s made it this far, it would be a shame to sleep through the momentous part.

Right when we were reaching camp, we saw a guy stumbling down with the help of two guids. Shit! My stomach did a few back flips and I admonished myself – I cannot get worked up every time I see that tomorrow or I’ll never make it. The last 4,000 of so feet are spread over 2-3 miles. Out breaks will only be to go to the bathroom and will be a very ‘pole pole’ experience of around 6 hours.

I wish I was in a smaller group so we could go a little faster, but I imagine I might be thankful for the speed in about 12 hours. We have another group leaving around 11, so we’ll hopefully all make it in time to see the sunrise. There is also a false peak 45 minutes before the summit. Ahh! I hope I can do it!

Lessons of the day:
If you’ve forgotten or lost something, chances are, someone else will be able to replace it – especially medicines!
Reaching the summit would definitely be a feat
I need to prepare myself for not reaching the top and not everyone is going to make it
Guides are pimps

December 30: Machame Route Day Four

Monday, January 9th, 2006

Climbing the Wall
Barranco Hut (3901 m/12,800 ft) to Karanga Valley (3963 m/13,000 ft)
Hike time: 3.5 hrs
Elevation change: +100 m/+328 ft
Estimated distance: 4km/2.5 miles
Final elevation: 3963 m/13,000 ft

From Barranco Hut, we climb up through the edge of great Barranco. 95 percentage of the walking today will be on elevation of 4250m. We will break our day at Karanga valley campsite at elevation of 4,000m.

I’ve got three hours before dinner – most people are taking naps. Sean isn’t feeling well, still, but has taken some migraine meds. I’ll admit it – so far, as a group, it hasn’t ben pretty. Most of us are taking Diamox.

The ‘late sleep in’ today was nice…even though I went to bed before 9, it’s tough to get up! I went to the bathroom around 6 and saw the sun starting to come up over the horizon – it’s quite a sight, even slightly messed up, blind and deaf, and squatting besides your tent, freezing your ass off, showing your moon to Mt. Kilimanjaro.

The sun was out again today, thankfully. It affects everyone’s moods so much. Even though we know the clouds will soon blow in, we can hope they’ll stay away from us this time.

We immediately started our sluggish trek up the Wall, and I passed the time by going through a list of ‘lessons learned’ with Mary. The scramble took an especially long time because we had to let all the porters pass. The last hour, we got split up on the steep drop down into a ravine…and then back up to camp.

Lessons of the day:
There is no glory in pain or suffering when other cures are available
Never underestimate the power of a well-placed wet wipe
Ass grabbing is ok, and encouraged, when pushing someone up the Wall
Big groups move waaaay slower than smaller ones

December 29: Machame Route Day Three

Monday, January 9th, 2006
Mountain top, seen from camp Shira Hut (3749 m/12,300 ft) to Barranco Hut (3901 m/12,800 ft) Hike time: 5 hrs Elevation change: +100 m/+328 ft Final elevation: 3900 m/12,800 ft From Shira Hut, we hike ... [Continue reading this entry]

December 28: Machame Route Day Two

Monday, January 9th, 2006
Scenery Machame Hut (2834 m/9,300 ft) to Shira Hut (3749 m/12,300 ft) Hike time: 7 hrs Elevation change: +800 m/+244 ft Estimated distance: 6km/3.75 miles Final elevation: 3800 m/12,467 ft From the Machame Hut, we cross the stream onto its ... [Continue reading this entry]

December 27: Machame Route Day One

Monday, January 9th, 2006
At the Gate Machame Gate (1634 m/5,363 ft) to Machame Hut (2834 m/9,300 ft) Hike time: 7.5 hrs Elevation change: +1200 m/+3937 ft Estimated distance: 10km/6.21 miles Final elevation: 3100 m/10,170 ft Easy track for the first hour ... [Continue reading this entry]

Mt. Kilimanjaro Deaths

Friday, January 6th, 2006
A few climbers died on Mt. Kilimanjaro this week after strong winds and a rockfall. While searching for the story, I also came across another one that talked about last year(?) on NEW YEAR'S, when one person ... [Continue reading this entry]

Mt. Kilimanjaro on New Year’s Day

Monday, January 2nd, 2006
Well, for those of you who don't want to read any further, here's the key thing: I made it. I hiked to Africa's highest peak, summiting (sp?) around 6:30 a.m., just in time to see the sun rise. ... [Continue reading this entry]

Lots of Posts – Time for the Mountain!

Monday, December 26th, 2005
I spent my Christmas writing, as you can see by the 13 or so posts below and in the archieves (look under Kenya/Tanzania). My time, of course, is limited in the cafe, however, so I am unable to upload ... [Continue reading this entry]

Church on Christmas Day in Tanzania

Monday, December 26th, 2005
For Christmas service, Deanna and I decided to indulge ourselves in a cultural experience and head to church in the small village where we were staying. It started a little after 10, and only a few of the 40 ... [Continue reading this entry]

Easy Foreign Languages to Learn: Swahili

Monday, December 26th, 2005
As an American with no foreign language skills whatsoever, I’ve found the meager amount of Swahili that I’ve picked up incredibly easy to learn. Many simple conversations are a series of greetings, based upon age and singular or plural forms. ... [Continue reading this entry]