Kilimanjaro part 3 - No walk in the park!
Up at 6.00am again we were greeted by a beautifully clear sky and an amazing and somewhat daunting view of Kibo. Ake had told us this would be a short day in comparison to the last one and only going up a couple of hundred metres.
I started off in high spirits excited and ready to go. We were heading to the start of one of the valleys that surround the peak. The walk seemed never ending, my feet were hurting, the blisters were getting worse, my calves were tight and cramping and my headache was progressively getting stronger. Every ridge we approached I hoped that camp was just over the other end but it never seemed to appear. 6-7 hours later as I was nearly on my knees we got to the top of a large ridge and could see the camp in the distance. It was what looked like 10-15 minutes away but perspective on this mountain is a bitch as we were starting to learn. I asked one of our guides how far the camp was and he said about 1 and ½ hours!! I could have cried there and then. I felt if I’m struggling here then how will I get to the top. I had to keep in mind the reasons I am doing this.
We finally got into camp and I could hardly walk, my body felt broken. As I stumbled along I could see our crew formed into a semi-circle just starting to sing in Swahili. I hid my eyes behind my sunglasses and broke down, this was the most amazing and genuine welcome to camp we could have asked for (if Carlsberg did welcome parties).
After a bit of lunch, a nice wash, and compeed all over my feet thanks to Ash, I took myself into my tent and had a quiet word with myself and it’s amazing how much better I felt. I was hoping to get some rest time but Ake rounded us up for a night walk going 200 metres up to hit some higher altitude and get used to walking in the pitch black with our head torches on. The views were amazing up there, we sat and watch the sunset in the best position you could ever imagine. I never knew sunsets could look so incredible.
Day 4 we were up bright and early and had a long day ahead of us, I had got myself mentally ready for this and told myself I could do it. We had started to get into another type of landscape called alpine desert where not many plants can survive. This walk was steep, lots of high ridges that were sandy and hard to grip onto.
We reached 4600 metres above sea level to have lunch! As it was Sunday the chef in the crew had cooked us a roast chicken dinner and I have to say it was amazing, crispy fluffy roast potatoes, nice chicken, and loads of vegetables. He had seriously impressed us. I felt bad for my boy John as he was having a bad day, the altitude sickness had really hit him hard and he couldn’t stomach the food. Camp was a few hundred metres lower for the night so the rest of the day was plenty of downhill, which is still tough but we were very grateful as you can feel the pressure release from your head as you go further down.
This was the most amazing camp of the whole trip the scenery was stunning, Akes crew had got there early and got us the best spot which was right on the edge of a very high cliff. If you look at the first photo below then you will see the view we had before sundown. I also got some mobile signal for the first time here and was able to text my wife and let her know I was ok.