Date: Oct 1 2015 Thursday
Route: Unique Rongai Route
Destination: Simba Camp to Kikilewa Camp, via Second Cave
Duration: 7hours walking
Elevation Gained: 1,050m (3,444ft)
FitBit Steps: 31,149
FitBit Calories Burnt: 4,095
(If you missed it – here is my look back on Kilimanjaro Day 1)
Well lets keep the memory recall going – better get them to paper (blog) before they start to fade!
With our first day’s walk and first night’s tent slumber under our technical belts we were starting to feel like ole pros at this Kilimanjaro trekking thing! OK not really, our Guide Leo provides a briefing every night after dinner on what the next day will hold for us and even gives us some insight into what gear to wear and what gear to stuff in our day packs. He consistently advised there was a 99.5% chance of rain – he told us this every night and every morning. His loving way of saying, pack your rain gear in your day pack!
So before I get into day 2, I better intro the briefing we got from Leo…on day 1, after we completed our first night’s dinner, Leo joined us in the dining tent and asked us all how we were feeling (everyone was all smiles and feeling good) and then advised tomorrow (day 2) we would be walking about 12km (roughly 6-7 hours) and there would be lunch at about the 3.5 hour mark where we could can refill our water. The route would be lots of up to start the day then easier as we come into our second night’s camp, put rain gear in your pack, dress about the same as day 1 but bring a fleece to stay warm on breaks. As always wear and bring lots of sunscreen and everyone should have a hat.
The evening briefings sure made getting ready for and on the next day so much easier – there was no guessing at what the weather would be, no looking about the stars and early sunset like Crocodile Dundee trying to read into what the weather would be like by the shape of the first cloud seen or direction of a bird or whatever.
Day 2, up and at it at 6:30am .. ok lets be honest, Lance and I were usually up in our tents around 5:00am (Lance chilling in the warmth of his sleeping bag, and me putting to journal every detail from the day before. I was often chuckling to myself when I thought a sketched picture would be easier than writing all the words but my drawing is so bad it made no sense and I still had to use words. You should see my colobus monkey drawing – yikes!
So we were up and out of our tents at 6:30am and ready to hike at 8:00am after a hearty breakfast of porridge, toast, eggs and hot dogs (supposed to be sausages I think but not really). Here we go!
At about 11:45am we arrived at Second Cave Camp where we were had our lunch – the Team Kilimanjaro crew had raced ahead of us more pole, pole (slowly, slowly) trekkers and laid out an amazing spread for lunch complete with dining table and camp chairs. Wow eh! As would be usual for the entire trip, lunch included hot soup, a carb, some meat, and sliced oranges and watermelon.
After lunch, we departed Second Cave Camp at 12:45pm and made our way to Kilikewa Camp for 4:00pm.
After lunch the weather started to turn a little – sky getting darker and clouds rolling in fast. We made good time in the afternoon but not good enough time to avoid a crazy rain and hail storm. Boo!
During this grumpy-making rain and hail storm I discovered a few things about myself: 1) hail hurts when it hits your bare hands and face – like quite a bit, 2) all conversation ceases when the hail and hard rain comes down – we were a silent, slumped over, sad little troop, 3) the $200 Pantagonia Rain Jacket I bought in the UK while walking 16 days in Wales of which 11 were torrential downpours in 2008 is no longer waterproof at all – so technically I did have a “shower” on the mountain (I was soaked right thru to the unmentionables) 4) the rain gear my trek-mates rented from Team Kilimanjaro was also not in any way waterproof nor did much of it fit, and 5) if I had to hike the rest of the week in rain and hail I would be one big Grumpy Grouchy McGee maybe even a Ms. Rain McRage, 6) we were high enough up the mountain that our wet clothes under our wet not-rain proof gear would never fully dry for us ever, and finally 7) I think I hate rain because I live it in 6 months of the year in the amazing west coast of Canada. Growl. Anywho…
A couple soggy hours later, as we stroll into our second night’s camp I am again my usually happy hiking self as the hail has stopped and the rain was letting up. Even better than that we are met with the most delicious and amazing smell and taste ever as a snack for our hard work … popcorn! Mmmm mmmm mmmm Popcorn has the ability to make a crappy day for me happy again, so to get served popcorn when I am in my happy walking place was beyond epic. I was ecstatic like a wee school girl getting her first Cabbage Patch Doll at Christmas (remember those?)! Secretly, I feel they served popcorn just for me; in reality its a great snack to get your salt stores up and make you thirsty so you drink me and they always want you drinking more water (sneaky, sneaky Team Kilimanjaro).
Following snacks and a little warm water bowl clean up we settled into our cozy dining tent to play some cards, some additional trivia games (who would be your secret celebrity girlfriend, who is your secret celebrity boyfriend, etc. – we had the boys in our clutches so of course I had to throw out some bestie sleep over girly questions!).
Before we knew it, another epic dinner was served. On the menu tonight was a cream beef stew with plantains (yup wee baby bananas), sweet potatoes, beans, etc. I feel this was a Tanzania / Kilimanjaro Camp version of beef stroganoff. There was also veggie stew which was in a red thai curry sauce. All of this was served with mashed potatoes – perfect for soaking up stew juice. Then watermelon slices for dessert. What was also an every meal thing – was a big old school Thermos of piping hot water and every kind of hot drink powder you can imagine. Perfect!
Tonight we could see our breath, things were starting to get mountain real. I was thankful for my toque, thermal liner in my sleeping bag, thermal top and bottom base layer, and cold weather ski socks for night wear. Seeing our breath was interesting and odd to me – we are in Africa as close to the equator as I will ever get and here I am all cold. A chill on a mountain was expected for sure, but somehow it was still funny strange to me cause it seemed out of place in Africa. Don’t worry I wasn’t experiencing the ole brain swell from altitude yet – I often find the oddest things funny, its normal…for me.
Speaking of altitude sickness: a couple of our troop experienced headaches today. Lance was intermittent throughout the day with a headache and then worse during our popcorn extravaganza but it subsided shortly after his evening dose of Diamox (altitude sickness medication). My sister had a headache too but she was able to med it up too.
I was feeling golden, great, amazing, and excited when we all finally went to bed at 7:00pm. Oh yes that is no typo, that was a for real 7:00pm shut eye. Finally! It was hard to stay up that long. You sort of hope the darkness of night comes fast just so you can go to bed. I think between the fresh air and exercise your body also wants to keep the good stuff coming and get a good night’s sleep. The body knows what makes it happy and healthy if you listen. Oh and you are up 2 to 4 times a night to pee (Diamox medication is diuretic), and most of us were up with the sun at 5am so it was already a longish day. Also, the dining tent gets cold and you want the warmth of your sleeping bag! Secretly, I too wanted the chance to share and talk about the day just hubby and me … It was our honeymoon after all!
Getting to sleep is easy, so long as I in no way think about how excited I am to be on the mountain and do not at all consider how great the next day will be. I have to think cold, sleepy thoughts to make myself fall asleep or risk being up all night excited.
(If interested, hope you are – here is my look back on Kilimanjaro Day 3)