Saturday, September 2, 2017

Kili climb, day 6: down to Horombo Huts

I'll just say it. I love oxygen.

We heard lots of coughing in the night, but still managed to sleep the sleep of the exhausted. The wheezing, hyperventilating exhausted. We got up and quickly packed our stuff to clear the tent so the porters could start breaking it down. 

That gave us some time to wander around camp and marvel at what we did the previous day.

I wish I had noticed that the door to the hut was open -- Wil took this shot -- I would have liked to take a peek inside.

And watch a raven, of course.

Met the group at breakfast -- lots of high fives and stories -- and it was decided that we could go down to Horombo Huts to lose the 3000+ feet of elevation.

I don't want to brag, but I am wearing CLEAN TROUSERS in this photo.
There was some talk of waiting around to help people coming down off the mountain -- but I knew I needed to come down, and I think most others felt the same. We did get to see Steve return to camp and give him a hero's welcome.

Then Felix took us on a leisurely stroll back across the saddle and then onward.

The hike was listed as 2 hours on the sign, but 3 hours in reality. That said, we did take a break at LAST WATER POINT.

While we admired views big (of Mawenzi)...

... and small (of this salamander)...

... the porters just kept doing their job. Seriously, thank you porters!

After our last break, we started hiking to what looked like the edge of the world, still well above the clouds.

Was excited to see that we were heading into a group of senecios -- probably for the last time on our climb.

Then a last little rocky stretch -- amusingly, Erik had described the walk as "like a sidewalk" ... which it was, for the most part, until just before camp. I am staring at my feet so I don't trip and fall.

And then, voila: Horombo Huts!

I am absolutely sure that someone will sell us a beer here if we want. First we signed in with the ranger.

And of course then had to take the obligatory welcome sign photos!

Really glad not to be going in this direction:

And then arrived to find that our tent was already set up -- WOOT! Not just set up, but set up in a glorious location.

view from inside our tent at Horombo Huts

So we hung out and were DELIGHTED and surprised to hear that -- despite Erik's warning to the contrary, LUNCH WAS SERVED! A lovely, thick, hearty, potato and vegetable stew. See, we had been told that with the group split, and with the porters busy with the summit crew, etc., we wouldn't get lunch but could have an early dinner. And we were all fine with that. But lo and behold, LUNCH!

After lunch some more chilling, and then the midnight summit crew started arriving into camp. BTW -- the whole time we walked to Horombo we kept saying how glad we were not to have to walk right after climbing!

Tony(Jess), Wil, and I stood out for a long time cheering people as they came into camp. Julie cried and hugged us; Ralph said we were the only three people he didn't hate right now. It was good and I got that total endorphin rush again.

Then dinner -- rice and a bean sauce -- and people quickly scattered. Tomorrow is an early day as we have a long hike down to the gate.

I feel like I should write a little about camp life in general... and toilet tents specifically. Before we left we learned that our group was planning on bringing toilet tents on the hike. I thought this was a little weird -- after all, I knew that each of the campsites had "long drop" toilets in them. I also knew that these toilets would be terrible. But that's part of hiking and camping.

I didn't even really know what to expect. Was it just a little tent with essentially a "bucket with a seat" on it? Well, no.

Yes, it's a little tent.

But inside there is a little portable camping toilet. The kind of thing you might find on a boat.

On the first night, at Simba Camp, I mentioned that perhaps people could use a little training on how to use one of these toilets... so we were shown how to pump a bit of water in and -- crucially -- how to FLUSH.

Now, longtime readers of the blog may recall that, while hiking the Inca Trail, I, um, closed up. For 4 days. What would happen on a 7-day trek, I wondered?

Without getting all TMI about it ... the curse of the Inca was broken on the first night, and I wasn't revisited by the affliction at all. And for that, I credit the toilet tents.

The toilet tents were always clean -- each came with a porter who kept it emptied, tidy, and with toilet paper. We were the only people using them. And they were much cleaner and fresher than a portapotty at a marathon.

One day while we were hiking Gretchen asked about the toilet tent porters, and whether this duty ([snigger]... "You said doody"), this "crappy job" ([snigger]) made these men the lowest on the totem pole. Apparently not -- because it isn't the nicest task, the toilet tent porters are paid better than the standard porters, so it's a sought-after position. And I assure you, we were thankful for their service.

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