Reflections from Kilimanjaro in an email home to Dad and Kara, September 10, 2012

Jambo!

Yes, I will return to work speaking Swahili.  

I have made it back down the mountain!  And yes, I made it all the way to Uhru Peak – 19,341ft!  I mean, I barely made it.  I had no side effects from the altitude, and did not take that much diamox.  The hardest part (besides hiking for 12hrs) was the terrain.  Scree, rock, scree, scree, rock.  I hate scree.  We started plodding up at midnight, and yes, I get the zombie reference now.  I have never seen so many stars!  But that novelty wore off after about 10 minutes and the slipping and freezing cold began.  I wore 4 layers on bottom, 7 on top, a balaclava and hat, and super heavy gloves and I was still freezing.  Maybe because we were moving slower than the slowest living thing.  I never looked at my watch, as I thought I would get too discouraged.  But what felt like 2 hrs, we reach 4,900m (we started at 4,700m!).  My God, we are never going to get there!  My guide mentioned every one struggles around Jamaica rocks, and I figured it was because it was at 5,300m at that point.  No, because it is hell.  Literally as close to hell as you can get on the trail.  After over 5 hours of walking up hill and scree, up the never ending switchback, you come to these boulder sized rocks.  Maybe they were smaller, but it was all I could do to lift my feet over them.  Hand and knees.  And in between all that, more scree.  Step, slip, step, fall.  After about the fourth time of falling and my guide saying, “Don’t fall sister” (yeah, that was my plan), I was so exhausted, almost in tears, and ready to quit.  My guide points at the rocks above and says were are almost to Gilman’s point (5,600m).  So I get up, even though I have been staring at those rocks up there for the past several hours and have yet to reach them.  But yes, shortly we were there.  And I got a second wind.  The hike to Uhru point was much easier, but the weather was not good – very high winds.  We arrived at Gilman’s point around 6am right before the sun came up.  The last reach to Uhru, I was really struggling again, but I made it at 6:50am.  Got a few pictures, and back down.  We scree ski the whole way down for 2 hours.  Then another 3 hours of hiking back to the next camp.

So, sounds like fun, huh?  I am glad I did it, as it was very amazing, but don’t think I will do it again.  Not the summit anyway.  The days before were nice.  The first day there were monkeys!!!  Colobus monkeys.  They were playing hard to get, but once everyone else left and it was just me, one, then two, three, four came down about 30ft from me and were eating leaves and playing.  What can I say, they like me 🙂  It averaged 3-6 hours of hiking a day – some easy, some hard, but manageable. 

Tomorrow I head to Nairobi to catch the safari, which I am ready for now!

Love,

Lindsay

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