Thursday, August 31, 2017

Kili climb day 4: rest day at Mawenzi Tarn

I didn't sleep as well last night, but I think I still slept straight through from 8pm - 2am, so that's still 6 good hours, plus a lot of napping. Still feeling pretty good, knock on wood. 

It was cloudy this morning -- Kibo was socked in, sadly. 

We had breakfast -- eggs, fried break, nutella crepes, and, of course, millet porridge. I drank 2 big cups of milky tea. Boo-yeah. 

After breakfast we took a group photo in front of Mawenzi with the porters and guides --  nice to bring the whole "family" in. Then Jenny talked us through tomorrow, Erik detailed his idea of timings, the guides another. So we'll see. I'm going to try and just put one foot in front of the other. 

photo courtesy Jenny Hadfield
We went for another acclimatization hike today, back up to the same ridge. We stayed up there a bit longer, just relaxing and trying to ignore the GREAT BIG MOUNTAIN next to us that we were supposed to hike up the next day. 

We almost missed lunch -- which was a hearty vegetable stew -- but one of the chefs came and found us on our rock. 

Most of the day was spent relaxing in camp. 

Oh, and filling out the climbers' register... EEK. 

Cute moment earlier today: coming back from the bathroom and talking to Debra -- btw, it's her BIRTHDAY -- I helped her clip up her rainfly, she rewarded me with toilet paper. It's like prison bartering, sometimes here. 

Anyway, Maureen said she didn't realize anyone was behind her -- but we hadn't realized she was adjusting her pants anyway. Tony said, "That's because Sunny's awesome." So I sidled over to him for a high five, and said, "Have you guys though about your safari vehicle group yet?" 

He said, "No, have you?"

I said, "Yeah... hopefully with you guys." and he smiled and said, "That's what we want, too." So it was sweet and silly and we smiled a lot. 

We went out to "our rock" and read our letters -- really sweet notes and so many. We took turns reading them aloud, which reduced both of us to tears. Lots of ugly crying. Dr. Seuss quotes, TR quotes, just nice words -- really great. I hate when I hear this, but I do feel "blessed". 

We had been admiring the "rock art" around the camp -- clearly people often have time to kill at Mawenzi Tarn -- so we did a little art of our own. 

Dinner was rice, chicken wings, meaty skewers, and an eggplant sauce for us. We sat with Gretchen, Tony, Shawn, Amanda, Ken, and Mary. Erik called the "day summit crew" out for a quick meeting. Fifteen of us will set out at 7am tomorrow. I'm worried about having enough guides for some reason, but we'll also have Erik and Jenny with us. I still would rather walk 12 hours in the daylight and an hour or so at night, than a guaranteed 6 hours of freezing darkness. 

We're all antsy and nervous. The camp is very noisy -- there's lots of nervous chatter. We've packed our daypacks and laid out our clothes for tomorrow -- we're getting up early and going. I hope this all works out. I feel confident yet nervous that we'll make it, even if it means coming down after dark. (Which, frankly, I think we will.) I want to sleep now. No time for writing before we leave tomorrow, so this is it. 

Strong heart, strong mind. Don't think it, just live it. #life&livinit 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Kili climb, day 3: to Mawenzi Tarn

Wil above the clouds, Mawenzi Tarn camp
Today was a short, glorious day.

Slept well again -- feeling lucky! We were in bed from 8pm - 6am. Got up early to see the sunrise -- lovely pink clouds.

Saw our first giant senecio last night, and could see one this morning not far from camp where the leaves hadn't fully opened yet. Glorious!

Had a great morning of hiking -- a short but steep trail with lots of view of Kibo across the heath.

The second part of the morning we hiked with Solomon so he could work on my Swahili. He taught me to say "shikamoo", a respectful greeting. Apparently it literally means "I hold your feet".

Mawenzi Tarn is just over that little ridge...

And behold... Mawenzi Tarn! (And our camp for the next two nights.)

We took the obligatory "camp sign" photo with Solomon ... the unfinished new ranger station is in the background.

Lunch was a massive heap of chips, some coleslaw, and chicken for the omnivores / beans for us. And crazy-sweet pineapple for dessert.

After lunch we went for a walk around the camp to find a nice spot to chill by ourselves. We love this rocky area, full of cairns and devoid of people, high above the clouds.

Wil with Mawenzi in the background; our camp at the bottom of the frame
White-necked ravens kept circling the camp. We kept going back and forth on a day vs. a night summit. This morning we got here to Mawenzi Tarn and felt great -- like we could keep going -- so perhaps the day is the way to go.

Our porters did a great job of getting here first and staking out a spot for our camp -- we clearly have the prime location, essentially all the flat space closest to the tarn. The other, smaller groups -- a small Zara tour, a Kandoo group, and a largish, super well-branded group (the orange and black tents below) -- have spots that are less good. We WIN!

Eventually we went on an acclimatization hike up to a ridge over camp -- just another 150m of elevation or so -- and then headed back. I do wish we had spent more time at the "top", but it was still good to get higher. And there were some beautiful views from the top.

we headed up that trail on the other side of the lake

racing the sunset behind Kibo

It didn't feel like we had gone particularly far, but there's the camp waaaaay down there.

Dinner was pasta shells and a bit of cheese. We had a vegetable sauce for the top, plus mango for dessert. I love eating all this fruit. And hanging out above the clouds.

Tomorrow we'll have a rest day, with just a short hike in the morning as a "shakeout". But the goal for tomorrow is really just to relax and store up some energy.