Mount Kilimanjaro

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October 10th 2014
Published: October 30th 2014
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Kilimanjaro; our waiting is over. On route to the biggest challenge of our lives. On the road not far Arusha we pass a dead body lying in the road when we pass traffic police a few miles down our driver alerted them of the dead body. We try not to take this as an omen of things to come.
Our Team Kilimanjaro guides consists of 21 members, a head guide, assistant guide, cook and the rest will carry our belongings and tent. Surprisingly they all have English names, to round out the group of climbers is 2 young men and 3 fools (Angie, Francine,Karen). We registered at Marango gate and began walking thru the rain forest and fields of crops. The walk was tiring as we started late in the day and it's dark when we fall into our tents. Bedtime Was usually around 7 and up by 6 in the morning, only 11 hours of sleep, however usually very sporadic and poor quality.The second day was more vertical and demanding as was days 3,4,5,6, and 7. We went pole-pole (slow) each day with one foot in front of the other, fell into bed each night exhausted, from being tired and from the lack of oxygen. Days 3 and 4 after a day's walk and after dinner we walked several miles higher to acclimatize. We are really all doing well. The meals were great good and plentiful, the staff looked after us like mother hens. I was affectionally referred to as mother, Francine as steedman, and we referred to them as our boys for the duration. We enjoyed the private toilet tent but the logistics of using it was not always easy. Thank heavens for wet wipes, never climb Kilimanjaro with out them! Bathing was limited to spit bathes, but no one was complaining, nights and mornings were cold!! A bowl of warm water quickly turned cold. Wet wipes were kept in the sleeping bags to keep them warm.The night of the final assent began at 3am, with a full moon to help guide us. It was up, up and up, pole pole. It was over rocks, scree and boulders. It was freezing, were were layered with all of our clothes, down jackets and the most enormous down summit gloves that went up to our elbows. We applied sunscreen and hats to block the weather, but still managed to suffer sunburn and wind burn once the sun emerged. It was so amazing to see how high and how far we had climbed but there was so much more to do... It took about 11 1/2 hours to summit at Gilmans and back to the base camp for Francine and Karen. Lunch was served at the top of the ordered peanut butter sandwiches. Angie took an additional hour to summit than Francine and 1/2 hour behind Karen . Angie had the help of the boys who chanted and urged her to the top. Richard was in front and helped guide me with one step at a time with Paschal behind me who would not let me falter by staying close, we looked like an Oreo climbing to the point. The porters were the only reason any of us made it to Gilmans. They pushed, inspired and gave confidence to the 3 of us. On the way down usually my favorite part of the climb, the boys were holding on to me and began running down the scree. Now let me tell you, I don't run, not now or ever. I tried to explain but they insisted this was the best way, the only way down. With my knee recently injured in Rwanda each step was added pressure to my sore knee. At some point I probably jammed my foot on a rock and a burst of pain engulfed my leg. The next thing I remember is waking up laying on the ground with a nasal cannula in my nose and my camelback water tube in my mouth and 6 young men staring at me. I was paralyzed for a short moment, my mind trying to figure out what was going on. How do I know I was paralyzed; well on the the young men took the oxygen tubing from my nose and put it in his nose to see if oxygen was coming out. Satisfied that it was he stuck it back into my nose. Now if I weren't paralyzed I would have screamed, NOOOOOOOO! And ripped the tubing from his hands before his put it back into my nose and I would have proceeded to spue a variety of very vivid curses for all to hear. But there I sat only screaming on the inside. My leg was splinted with my hiking poles and these very wonderful boys carried me back to base camp about nine miles over very rocky and rough terrain, with the weather changing to a very wet snow shower. I was cold wet and hurting when I got back to base camp and could not get warm until given a hot water bottle to put in my sleeping bag a favorite warm up practice of Francine. Luckily a critical care nurse from New Zealand saw me being carried in and came to my rescue by taping my knee. No dinner for me just sleep! Even though my knee was better in the AM Nick our head guide insisted that I not walk Down and arranged for a one wheeled stretcher be used to take me to the next camp. I was bundled in a warm sleeping bag and secured on the stretcher and off we went. It was such a difficult transfers considering the rough terrain. The next day Francine Karen and I all walked the 2 + miles of the evacuation route to a waiting ambulance that took us back to the Marangu Gate and back to the bus to go back to Arusha and the end of the climb. Francine and Karen are more than happy to accompany Angie in the ambulance. WOW more that the adventure planned! We are all amazed and proud of our accomplishment but more inspired by our porters who supported us on the climb. They were so kind and supportive.

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Tot: 3.178s; Tpl: 0.05s; cc: 12; qc: 63; dbt: 0.0523s; 3; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.5mb