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Thursday 19 Feb 2009
Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Day 3 ... Oooh..err... not feeling right

Day 3  ... Mt Meru as...
Day 3 ... Mt Meru as...

After a freezing night ... I awoke at Shira Hut, replete with killer sore throat, to a particularly stunning view of Mt Meru as the sun rose over the horizon and over our tents.

I hadn't been eating very well since the day before (loss of appetite probably due to tiredness and headaches), but I persevered with Ali's staple concoctions of semolina and stale biscuits. I don't usually take sugar in any of my food but Shanny advised that I stock up on sugar as I would need it today as it was going to be a particularly hard trek.

So I obliged with a few spoons of sugar in my chai tea and semolina. Yick! Yell

Day 2  ... Having dinner...
Abbas with more food!!!!

Eating without an appetite was hard enough, not to mention trying to eat in a small tent.. hence why I would often try to eat outside whenever the weather permitted, but to make it worse, I was expected to eat the carb-heavy diet of HUGE PORTIONS of macaroni/potato/veg/GINGER(!)/leak soup in a matter of minutes, so that the porters could clean up the plates and head to bed early (or pack up early depending on the time of day).

Abbas would often present me with a huge container of soup (which I would often need to guess as to it's contents as he didn't speak English) saying "Soup. SOUP!" with a drinking motion. No shit, and here I was considering washing myself with it Laughing. 5 minutes later, just as I'd had maybe 3 spoonfuls, he'd come back expecting it to be finished and would lay out the remaining dishes! 20 mins later I'd be expected to have finished THAT too!

It got kinda annoying so I had a chat with Shanny and we came to an arrangement whereby I could have the plates all night and take my time eating (WHEN I could manage to fit more in) and then they could take them away in the morning.

Right so... back to today... It was going to be a long trek over to Barranco which, at 3,840m high, was actually LOWER in altitude than our current starting position at Shira Hut (3,950). Along the way we were due to climb up to the Lava Tower which is 4,600m. The reason for climbing high and sleeping low is to aid with acclimatisation.

Day 3  ... It all...
Day 3 ... It all...

As I felt rather tired, I put this down to lack of salts from drinking so much water (and urinating it out fairly quickly as seems to be a common effect of cold and altitude) so I thought it would be wise to put a load of Vit C tablets in my water. 4000 mg to be exact. Hell I'd always thought the rule with Vit C was "take as much as you like, your body will get rid of anything it doesn't use" .... as the day wore on this proved to be a bad assumption on my part....

The terrain was mainly rocky here... I think they called it the "Alpine Desert" section. Very little plant life, but lots of huge annoying rocks to trip up on. The summit was clear to be seen all day and the weather was particularly hot at this altitude with little cloud cover.

Day 3... Migrane break
Day 3... Migrane break

My back was again in bits, but a lot of the rocks were huge flat boulders and I was able to lie back on a few of them and crack my back straight again which provided some energy boost for a brief while.

And then the chronic headaches begain. Migranes were coming in at all angles, especially on the back of the neck where my back and the strain of the bag forged together to bring King Pain on my sorry ass. We strove on... 5 minute breaks became a regular occurance, but we had to keep pushing on as time was limited (when it gets dark it gets very cold, so we had another 8 km to go to reach camp before sundown). Shanny was sympathetic to my cause, but also kept pushing me to go on, which was a good thing.

Many times I thought we had reached the top of plateau, only to be presented with yet MORE upward ascents over the crest. I quickly learned that on Kili you ALWAYS assume there is going to be more upward-ness over the horizon! I kept my head down, breathing deeply (and loudly too which worried Shanny, but I convinced him that the breathing was like "singing" to me as it kept my mind off the effort) and concentrated on whatching Shanny's feet in front of me. "Pole pole" goes the mantra.. and indeed we went literally toe to toe in small steps.

Day 3  ... Arrrgh!...
Day 3 ... Arrrgh!...

Finally after 4 hours we reached a relatively flat area, and stopped for lunch. I'd drunk about one whole bottle of water, and was already onto my second one. These were the ones packed with 4000mg of Vit C remember? Just as we launched off to begin the tough climb up to the Lava Tower I suddenly felt exhausted and replete of energy! Every 100m we walked, I had to pause for about 5 minutes to regain energy. This was extremely worrying. If I had suddenly reached my "wall" at this stage of the trek, how the hell was I going to make it to the summit in 2 days time?? Frown

Nevertheless we pressed on somehow. I tried to walk further each time before having to stop gasping with exhaustion. Shanny suspected something else might be going on here as we had been going so well up until this point. He suspected it might be my water.

We finally reached the Lava Tower .. it was incredibly hard to get up here. Not much to see up here, just a huge wall of granite that possibly existed once as an outlet for the volcano. This was the highest point we had yet been to. It was cloudy, it was wet, I was feeling like crap. Not good. ... some respite was about to come though ... *MOST* of the rest of the walk from here was DOWNHILL! Joy!

The walk from the Lava Tower to Barranco was tough though. Extremely steep descent, having to jump down 1 metre at a time (which didn't do my tender stomach any favours). Eventually my belly had enough and spewed forth the day's worth of water and Vit C concoctions! Whaddya know, I suddenly felt much better! The rest of the descent was much easier, but when I arrived to the camp I collapsed in my tent shivering as the zip had gotten stuck and I couldn't close it up. Doh!

Still though, I got to see where I was headed tomorrow: the dreaded Barranco wall (tm)

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I bless the rains down in Africa

Travel blog by peterforan

Day 3  ... Lookin forward to Uhuru peak, Kilimanjaro

Day 3 ... Lookin forward to Uhuru peak, Kilimanjaro

With Toto's defining tune ringing in my head, I don khaki pants and venture full-throttle into Africa! Elephants, lions, huge mountains, men with spears intent on stabbing me (probably) and the "Cradle of Humanity" (tm)... 4 weeks ain't gonna be enough!

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    Entrance to Machame town
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    Day 1 ...  Rain!
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    Day 1 ...  Shanny "Sean", the guide
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    Day 1  ... 2 bottles of water for support