|Day 2 (Sept. 3, 2005): Forest Camp to Shira 1 Camp|
DIARY OF THE CLIMB
After a big breakfast, we packed our duffels and continued our trek up through the rain forest about 8:30 am. Breakfast consisted of porridge, toast, and a small fried omelet with "sausage" (well, it was more like a spicy hotdog), with tea, hot chocolate or instant coffee to drink. I thought it was all quite good, although the omelet was too salty for Pauline (so Rick got to eat double).
We left camp before the porters had finished packing the tents and other gear. They caught up and passed us on the trail after an hour or two. Our climb took us up a distinct ridge, walking under thick trees draped with moss.
After a couple of hours, we reached the top of the rain forest at the top of a long slope. It was amazing how the vegetation changed abruptly from the Rain Forest zone to the Moorland zone within a couple of hundred yards. When we got above the tall trees of rain forest, we got our first views of the area we had climbed through the first day. Kilimanjaro is so huge (almost 50 miles across, from east to west), that it is hard to get a perspective of where you are on the mountain. The rain forest lay behind us, to the west, for as far as we could see.
The rest of the day on the trail was a series of climbs up one steep slope to cross a ridge, followed by a drop into the next valley. For that reason, our total elevation gain (climb) was probably 1,000' or 1,500' feet more than the net 2,350' elevation difference between the two camps (Mti Mkubwa and Shira 1).
We ate our packed lunch about 1/3 of the way up a very long and steep ridge, which eventually led to the Shira Plateau (our destination for the day). Lunch was a jelly sandwich, juice box, sweet crackers, a banana, orange, and a hard-boiled egg. Rick and Pauline had fallen behind Kevin, Ellen, and I by about a half hour, but they caught up with us during lunch.
The final portion of the day's hike to camp seemed long and tiring. The uphill portions were very steep, but the footing on the trail was good the whole way. The entire distance the trail was bone dry, and usually covered with a couple of inches of fine powdered dirt / dust. I wore my gaiters to keep the dust out of my boots, and they were covered with a thick layer of reddish dust at the end of the day. The tee-shirt that I wore was so grimy that I wasn't able (or willing) to wear it for the rest of the trek (too bad; I only brought two).
Around 2 pm we crossed a ridge into the Shira Plateau. From that point you should be able to see Kibo for the first time on this route (the Lemosho Route), but the peak was completely cloaked with clouds. As we dropped toward the Shira 1 camp, we saw trekkers and porters coming from the near-by Shira Route, who were also heading to the Shira 1 camp site.
When we arrived at camp, they again brought us warm water and a bar of soap to wash up. It was very welcome after our gritty 6 hours on the trail. A short while later, they also brought out a snack of hot tea and fried chicken wings.
The clouds finally lifted from Kibo while we were relaxing, and we got some spectacular pictures. Using Rick's binoculars, we could see across the Shira Plateau to the Lava Tower, the trail to Arrow Glacier, and the Western Breach. These landmarks would be our destinations on days 5, 6, and 7 of the trek.
I had a slight headache when I arrived at camp, and took a couple of Advil tablets. Last night, I don't think that I slept at all. My mind seemed too full, I suppose with the new surroundings and excitement of the trip. I hoped that would change tonight. Pauline said that she had experienced the same thing, which she attributed to jet lag. My lack of sleep, as well as hiking in the bright sun for much of the day, may have contributed to my headache.
Before dinner, Charles took our oxygen and pulse readings; my oxygen was 90% and pulse was 79. As it would turn out for the rest of the trek, everyone's oxygen levels were within a few per cent.
We had a very good dinner with a potato / leek soup, then a chicken dish over rice, and a fresh fruit salad for dessert.
I went to my tent about 7 pm and read for about a half hour. There was quite a bit of noise in the camp until about 9:30 pm, and I couldn't get to sleep. I took an Ambien tablet to help me fall asleep, and soon drifted off. I slept on an off until about 5 am; of course, the night was interrupted by having to pee three or four times.
© Copyright 2005. Michael E. Coltrin, Albuquerque, NM. All rights reserved.