P/ What a lovely morning Wic. Clear sky, view over the Afwican countryside, sun wising and a coating of pure white ice.
W/ Polie, I’ll go with all that except the bit about the ice. It’s all right for you. Have you seen Chris?
P/ He was shuffling awhound in his tent complaining about the time and the cold and anything else he could think of.
W/ Let’s go and get some breakfast. Maize porridge with honey.
We ate a hearty breakfast in preparation for the day ahead. Chris joined and then towards the end disappeared. Thinking nothing of this we gathered our possessions, cleaned our teeth and made our way to the starting point. No Chris. Polie went to look. Several minutes passed and then he returned looking concerned.
P/ Wic, you’ll never believe what Chwis has done.
W/ Polie it’s Chris. We can believe most things.
P/ Wic, after breakfast he went back to his tent and whilst the porters were dismantling other tents he went back in his. Took his sleeping bag, climbed in and kept vewy quiet.
W/ The porters had already checked the tents were empty?
W/ So they packed the tent with him in it?
P/ Yes Wic, comfy in his sleeping bag. He’ll be carried to the next camp by some unsuspecting porter.
W/ Oh dear. And Chris being Chris will sleep all the way. We’re off now so there’s nothing we can do.
Today we trek to Barranco Camp which should take about 6 hours. It was to be a barren landscape with some of the group comparing it to the moon. Although Barranco Camp is at 3972m we would arrived there via the Lava Tower, our lunch time stop at 4630m or 15,190 feet. We moved at a slow but steady pace as the ever present risk of altitude sickness was increasing. There’s no telling who will be prone to it. The fittest people can be susceptible to it as you will know if you followed Ben Fogle and Victoria Pendleton attempting to climb Everest. Victoria was forced down due to the effects of altitude.
We made our way steadily up hill for about 4 hours, with stops, to arrive at the Lava Tower so named as it is a lava formation. It is to be remembered that Kilimanjaro is an extinct volcano. On the trek up the weather had begun to change and a light drizzle set in. This would remain, on and off, for the rest of the day with the cloud gradually descending down the mountain so we finished the day in mist.
As we walked into the afternoon the first casualty to altitude sickness occurred. It started with headaches which worsened and ended with the victim wandering, unaware off the trail being caught by other members of the group. There was a doctor with the group and despite best efforts it became apparent by early evening that the casualty needed to go down and was escorted down through the night to waiting transport.
From the Lava Tower we walked on for maybe 2 hours and then began to descend through a series of ravines. As we did, the terrain began to change. We had entered an area with its own micro climate and vegetation returned in the form of bushes you would find in scrub land and stunted trees. The drizzle came on and off as we descended to Barranco Camp so we began to get an experience of what it is like to be damp with no immediate prospect of drying out.
W/ The porters just set up Chris’s tent.
P/ Yes. It came pweepacked with a moose in a sleeping bag.
W/ Do you suppose he will join us for dinner?
P/ I can’t imaging why not. He must be hungwee after 7 hours of twekking!
W/ Well he kept dry.
P/ Yes, he’ll be so pwoud of himself.
W/ At least he’ll be happy. Not sure it’ll be the same tomorrow. I think the porters are getting wise to him.
P/ Here he comes.
C/ Ready for dinner guys? Such a good day on the mountain.
C/ Whats up with you two? If I can do this so can you both. Come on, I need a cup of tea and some food. All that exercise makes me hungry.