Monday, July 7, 2014

Kilimanjaro Recap - Day 7 (Summit day) & 8 (last day)

Day 7
Summit Day or should I say night. These pictures are definitely beautiful, but they do not describe the 6.5 hours of hiking before we got to this point. We woke up at 11 pm and slowly got ready. We had a little tea and biscuits as a get ready snack, went to the bathroom and we were on our way. Along with everyone else who decided it would be a good night to summit. 

The stars were amazing people. It was a literal bowl of the brightest stars and galaxies you could ever imagine. I tried a few different nights to get photos and it just was not happening. And then there was the line of headlamps shuffling up the trail. True story.

 Almost immediately my stomach was not feeling well and continued to not feel well the entire hike to the summit. We chatted for a little bit and then between the the hours and hours and the cold we eventually stopped talking. To say I am not a music person is stating it lightly. I AM NOT A MUSIC PERSON AT ALL. And there is no way I would have made it if I had not had that music in my ear to distract me the last 5 hours up. Poor Andi's music was not working and I do not know how she did it. At one time I grinned because a song reminded me of Thomas.

There was also the incredible moon that rose to our right. It was a beautiful little orange sliver. I have never watched the moon so intently as that night to watch the time just pass knowing I was getting that much closer all the time. I was just waiting for the sun to raise because I know the goal was to watch the sun raise at Stellar point. And I honestly could not get there soon enough. 

At about 4 hours in, I had to stop to use the facilities and let me tell you, on the side of a mountain, in the pitch black, when you are freezing cold? The is a whole different experience people. Anyway, when I came back to the group I noticed they were all putting their coldest gear on. So I asked and it was 4 am. Now we had been told that from 4-6:30 am it would be the coldest. So I took out my coldest gear and loaded up. I took 10 steps and almost passed out from heat exhaustion. My sweet guide Visent took my pack from me for the remainder of the hike. Good grief I felt like I could fly up that mountain without my pack on! 

A little while later I hear Visent say to us, congrats! You are almost there! Come to find out, almost there is still 30 minutes from the first peak. I may or may not have gotten a little irked at this point again. DO NOT TELL ME I AM ALMOST THERE WHEN I AM 30 MIN FROM THE "ALMOST" TOP!  OK, that only happened in my head.

We finally made it to Stella Point and paused for what felt like 30 seconds. The sun was not quite ready to come up and our guides did not want to wait around, so they pushed us onward to THE HIGHEST POINT. Only we still had 45 minutes to walk. Now this whole thing was not fun. My stomach was not ok and I did not really enjoy a second of this hike. It was definitely a "you are this close so just to it" kind of a situation.

20 minutes later, we stopped to take a break and take these stunning pictures. 
A peak in the distance to the east.
That beloved sunrise I was eagerly anticipating, so that I could be done. :)
This is the glacier that looks HUGE from the ground with the beautiful bank of clouds.
This buddy would run by us and then just rest as we slow and steady passed him. It was a sling shot.
I just adore this picture.
This my friends is the shadow of the mountain I was standing on in the clouds. A little awe inspiring.

And then... 15 minutes later, we made it. Finally made it to the highest point in Africa. Where we stood around trying to get a picture in front of this stinking sign.

This is the 4 of us. Visent, Andi, Me (with a giant poof head!), and James.

And just Andi and I. Well, and the 2 guys that look like they are taking a bathroom break behind the sign.

This was Andi's view from the top. She did a better job of capturing all the views of the mountain.

They do not want you getting "mountain" or altitude sickness, so they rush you down as soon as you get a picture. So we headed down and took a few seconds to recoup at Stella Point. And take a picture.
 And then we headed down. Any by headed down, it took us 6 hours and 43 minutes to get to the top and a total of 3 hours to slide down the mountain.
These were our tracks down the mountain from sliding the whole way down. Like dirt skiing! I think I mastered that new sport.
Visent and I taking a new rest. Our poor knees!
 We made it back to our camp where we ate lunch and then we continued on down to our next camp. We still had 4 hours of hiking to get to where we would sleep that night.
This is called the mountain taxi. Only you never want to ride in it because it means you are definitely sick.

We were literally at the top of that 5 hours earlier. Can't you just imagine the little arrow that points and says, "right, there!" Wow.
 6 hours and 45 minutes to the summit to get us to 19,430 ft Another 3 hours of getting back down to camp. And finally 4 hours to get us to the final camp of the day where we slept our last night. Back in the rainforest.
Day 8

The type of trail we "ran" down again. Only this time it rained the ENTIRE last day. Thank goodness it was that, the last day.
A little better and slower today though.

These bag boys got me far. And honestly they were not too worse for the wear!
We woke up and headed out for our last day of hiking.
4 hours later we had to wait in the rain for our driver. They made us lunch, but at that point we just wanted to be in the hotel.

It had been 8 days of not showering, which I was fine with until the shower was so close and yet so far away. It rained the entire last day and my rain gear definitely got its use that day!

Over all I would say this. I loved the first 6 days of this trip. The 7th day was definitely hard, but doable for anyone who can just keep putting 1 foot in front of the other. I did not mentally prepare for hiking in the dark, for hiking downhill quickly, or for the day and a half it took to get us off the mountain. I don't know why I did not think of those things, I just hadn't.

Thank you Andi for your pictures that have been peppered through out these posts, for dragging me (ok me pushing myself) on your trip, and for the quality time that 8 days in the middle of no where gave us.

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