DEC 26, 2001
It was another difficult time for all of us in the US. 9/11 had just occurred and we were trying to understand, and I guess adjust to the impact of it.
We had already accepted a 30 day assignment in Uganda to begin mid November with US AID VOCA. And it seemed more important than ever to show Americans were no different than anyone else. It seemed critical to show the humanity of us all, which sometimes means, just one on one exposure.
Nov and some of Dec, was spent traveling around Uganda working with farmers groups to help strengthen their organizations. Upon completion of the assignment, we took the opportunity to also climb Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in Dec. It was something we wanted to do when living in Kenya as Peace Corp Volunteers, but seemed very expensive as a Peace Corp Volunteer. It was a fantastic adventure, but as in any experience shared between 2 people, there are different points of view. Upon completion of the trek, we sat in an internet cafe in Moshi, and each wrote our own version of this trek.
Here is Ed's version
Subject title of email: As Paul Harvey would say.....
Ok, for those of you who don't get my humor, this is the rest of the story. As M and I were walking out this morning, we decided that the only way for us to agree on our experiences of the last 7 days, was (for both of us) to send out emails to everyone, describing our experiences, and let you sort out the similarities. And decide if we really were on the same 7 day trip.
It was both the greatest climb/hike that we have ever done, as well as the hardest thing that we have ever done. We booked the trip through a company here in Moshi. They are very professional and have done this trip for 8 years. We drove up to the park entrance at 3000 ft. There was a guide, guide in training, cook and 3 porters to carry our things. Tanzania really has its stuff together, as they weigh the baggage that the porters carry. They are only allowed to carry 45#s.
We hiked for 6 hours the first day and gained 5000
ft in elevation. Most of this was done in the rain, even though we are in the 'dry' season. We did manage to keep everything wrapped up, with the exception of our money belts, which are still wet!! And our lunch which was cold and soggy!! One thing that is nice about hiking with porters, is that they go ahead and every night, we would arrive at the camp site, tea having been made, and either popcorn or fresh roasted peanuts. A brief rest and then dinner brought to your tent. What a life! The 2nd night brought us to 4500 meters or 14,000 ft. Man that's high. We chose to do the trip in 7 days as day 4 and 5 cover 7 hours of hiking to the base camp of 15,300ft. This allowed us the chance to acclimate as well as prepare for the 11pm arising and nite ascent.
On day 5 you eat at 5:30pm and then try to get some sleep at 15,300ft as everyone nervously chats and waits for the 'start'. Our guide, Alex and assistant guide Sully 'wake' us at 10:30pm, we never did get to sleep, with tea and cookies.
We start at 11pm. We are, at 45 and 44, the oldest ones to try this ascent of the mountain from this route on this day ( a fact that we did not know, or care about until after we had done it). So, we are the first out of camp. Alex has decided that if we get too far behind and see the light of the climbers so far up the mountain, we will get defeated and quit. So he wakes us up 1 hour before the other 22 climbers so we can get as far up ahead as possible.
Well, his plan worked, as we find ourselves at 2:25 in the morning, 1st up to the 2/3rd way point and actually wondering what we are going to do for the two extra hours on top waiting for the sun rise!! Funny joke!! The task of walking up a loose spree slope in temps of 20 degrees, with a 30 plus mph wind at 17,800ft on on sleep from the nite before will really both drain you, and take an incredible amount of time!!!! We find ourselves taking one step, stopping, taking a breath and then
taking another. You are constantly checking yourself for headaches and nauseousness, both signs of altitude sickness. Fortunately, neither one of us were bothered. I attribute it to all the donuts that I've eaten. Not sure what did it for M!!!!
The only thing that troubled us, was that out of 4 of us, we had 3 flashlights. And as you would guess, the batteries went out on two of them, and the third was about as bright as a 5 watt light bulb. But at only one step at a time, you really did not need to see where your going as the only place to go is up!! So, we found ourselves at the top of Killi, 19,395ft for the sunrise at 5:30. It is amazing where you can find yourself one foot after another!!! We stayed at the top until after 7am. Not a place to hang around without a purpose. The view was clear and fantastic!! We took pictures and wished everyone a Merry Christmas. And not that we were counting, but we allowed only two other climbers to pass us, so we really did keep quite a pace!!!
ft that took us 6 1/2 hours to crawl up, too us 2 hours to walk and 'ski' down!! So, at 9am Christmas Day, we are back in our tent, at the "LOW" elevation of 15,400 tired, but ecstatic at having accomplished the climb. 75% of the people at our site, made it to the top. We rested for 3 hours and then had to give up our tent site for the next group of would be climbers. And descend for 4 more hours to the last camp situate the oxygen rich height of 10,000ft!!! By this time, we are beat!! Our feet have held up, but 11 hours of climbing, 4000ft plus up, and 9000ft down has finally taken its toll. we eat dinner at 5:30pm and sleep comes at 6:30 and we never even stir until 5:30 this morning.
We walk out for another 5 hours and are met by our truck, to be driven the final 3 miles to the gate, We collect our 'Certificates' for having successfully climber Kilimanjaro and we are driven back to town for a shower and a cold beer. What a trip!!!!
Not being known for
having a lot of common sense, we will leave tomorrow for a 4 day camping safari into the Serengetti National game Park, including the ancient volcano Ngorogoro crater, that has animals in it. And Oldavi gorge, where they have found the oldest human fossils and then 2 days in the Serengetti game park, chasing lions, rhinos and elephants. we will be back in Moshi on the nite of the 31st and then leave early on the morning of the 1st for the 10 hour bus ride to Dar es Salamm and the last 6 days to be spent either by or in a pool with a few cold beers in our hands!!! A well deserved, at least we think so, end to a great trip!!!
Tomorrow - Michele's version!
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