Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Kili Day 4: Earning it

The morning broke cold and I was anxious to get on the road. The porters were too. I never grew comfortable setting my back down outside my tent, knowing that someone else would be carrying it for me. Awaiting us was the 800' Barranco wall, better known as The Breakfast Wall. 

I quite enjoyed the Breakfast Wall. Yesterday's acclimatization seemed to have worked. I felt strong and ready to climb. The steep grade warmed me and made the hike interesting. This wall is really the only part of Kili that can be called climbing.

Once atop the wall, we continued east, gaining and losing elevation as we headed toward the Karanga River

Baraka stopped us at a perfect photo spot. Looking one way we could see Mt. Meru peeking above the clouds (below my Dad's left hand). Behind us, Kili grew ever closer. Spending a week straight with Walker and my Dad was a wonderful gift. I'll never forget this trip.

It being Halloween and the tail end of the dry season, the Karanga River was the last available water source we'd have until we reached our final camp. The porters would have to carry all of our water from here up to the high camp. Knowing this, I began limiting the amount of water I drank. I felt guilty that people were carrying their own water and mine.

Although the porters religiously purified our water they never purified their own. This is disturbing. Over 40,000 tourists attempt Kilimanjaro each year. With a support ratio of at least 3 guides/porters to each client (in our case it was 5:1), that means that a minimum of 160,000 people are repeatedly defecating on this mountain each year. Talk about putting the runs in runoff.

We showed Baraka how to use a Steri-Pen, a nifty device that uses UV rays to scramble the dna of any bacteria in the water. He indulged us but seemed fine just sticking his water bottle into the stream.

After we filled all waterbottles, we made our way to Karanga Camp, a cold, godforsaken camp perched on above the river. Karanga Camp can claim to have the nastiest restroom I have ever used. Incredibly foul. There is no reason for this camp to exist. One day of acclimation is not worth the filth and desolation. Since we were on a 6 day itinerary, we left Karanga Camp and continued up through the clouds toward Barafu camp from where we'd be making the summit push.

Karanga Camp is roughly the same elevation as Barranco Camp, where we'd spent the previous night. But in the wind, cold, and clouds, it felt so much higher. We still had 2,000' to get to our sleeping place. I still felt strong but the 3 or so hours it took us to reach the high camp were tough.

We stopped for lunch about 45 minutes from Barafu aka "Ice" Camp. I was surprised to note that I was feeling quite lethargic while Walker and my Dad seemed fresh as flowers. I had enjoyed the afternoon's conversation but this was a long day and I was ready for ginger tea and a warm sleeping bag. 

We beat a few of the porters to the high camp.The ones who were there seemed stunned at our speedy arrival. Baraka told us that we were his strongest clients ever. He might tell all his clients that, I'll never know. Despite my (I know now) dehydration and just general fatigue, I felt a surge of pride. Then I felt a surge in my bowels. This three hole outhouse was purchased on a small cliff about 50 feet from my tent. 

Baraka had told us that we should try to rest until 6pm at which point we'd get up for dinner. Then we'd sleep until midnight, grab a light breakfast and hike through the night until we (hopefully) reached the tallest point in Africa at dawn.

Sleep before dinner proved to be impossible. Unlike other camps which had room to spread out, this camp had much tighter quarters. With porters and tourists arriving all evening, hammering stakes into hard ground and in general just causing commotion, I tossed and turned in my tent. I've always had difficulty sleeping with earplugs in because it sounds like I might drown in my heart but this was one time when I really wish I'd brought a pair. 

I was really nervous about the push to the top. I have always gotten nervous when there is a physical or mental test coming and I don't know what to expect. (I barely slept at all before my first Bolder Boulder but slept soundly before the 2nd one). Above us, the trail to the stop sank into the twilight. Walker and my Dad were sharing one tent so I had the other tent to myself. I packed my summit gear, popped some Advil and then tried to get some sleep. 

Day 4: Barranco Camp (13,044') to Barafu Camp (15,331). 5 miles

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