Kilimanjaro trek day two – Kikelelwa Camp
I slept so well last night! Nine whole hours! I put in my ear plugs and never woke once. My sleep deficit is finally evening out. I think I will have ample sleep time this week. Sadly, I finished my book last night, so I have already ran out of my own amusements.
I woke at 6:30AM, dressed, packed, and then was presented with a MASSIVE breakfast. I tried to stuff as much of it into my stomach as possible, but it was just so much food. My thru-hiker stomach would have been delighted, but I felt plumped up and a bit miserable. If I am getting five courses at every meal (supper was also quite large), I can see why tourist struggle to reach the summit. They likely gain 20 pounds as they hike along. Betos is a great cook, the food is delicious, but jeez is it a lot of food. I hope Betos does not think I do not like his food, I just do not think my body can fit more inside it. I also found out that my porters are Godiliza, Daniel, and Jofray. The fourth porter is Joshua, who is also my personal attendant. He brings me all my food and drinks, sets up my tent, and who knows what else. He does not speak a lot of English, but he is incredibly friendly and happy. I like him already.
My crew took off as soon as they could pack up, then Urio and I set off after them. We climbed all morning for some great views of Mwenzi and Kibo, the name of the two peaks this route will take me to. Very quickly we reached the First Cave, a small lava tube that is open along its flank. Then we quickly reached Second Cave Camp. This is where my itinerary was scheduled to stop, but we decided to skip it and continue to Kikelelwa Camp, so I can spend two days at Mawenzi Camp and hike around there. Urio had me stop at both caves for photos and a break. I did not actually feel tired. I did see a blue and green sunbird! Though it was not the scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird I hoped I would see. I looked up several birds common to KNP in advance, but without Daudi’s bird book, I am useless for identification.
While poking around Second Cave Camp, I met Patty and Jeff Baird, a couple from Tahoe! They run the Cedar House Sport Hotel (http://www.cedarhousesporthotel.com). They know several of the more notorious thru hikers, like Trauma and Pepper, Snorkel, and Bink. Pretty incredible! I am excited to talk more with them.
Urio and I played leap frog with several porters and mostly passed any tourist groups in front of us. I have already had the Swahili phrase, “pole pole” said to me many times. It means ‘slowly, slowly.’ We aren’t even on difficult trail, and the incline from this morning was not really a challenge. We are still the the moorland zone, and this part of the mountain is mostly a gradual up. So far, my exposure to mountaineering appears to be a sport of patience, a major weakness of mine. When we stopped at 11:30AM for lunch, I was still way too stuffed from breakfast to eat anything. My stomach felt like I was digesting a giant food baby. I did manage to drink the juice box and eat a couple cookies. Practically right after our lunch stop we reached camp already. I was the first tourist to arrive. We arrived before 1PM.
3600 meters amsl
12 km from Simba Camp
When we left this morning, I thought most of the groups had left already. But actually, we were ahead of almost everyone, except the porters. A second component of their job seems to be to carry camp supplies as fast as they can so they can have camp set up before their tourists arrive. There are about 3 porters per tourist for big groups, more for the smaller tourist groups. As I sat at the camp, I watched as maybe a hundred porters filed into camp, busily building up our tent city. It is quite baffling. I wonder how the porters feel about this life. Whether they appreciate the novelty of such a system. For me, one tourist, to hike up Mount Kilimanjaro, six men will have also gone almost to the top with me. And all but Urio will stop at the base camp, just below Kibo’s summit, waiting on me to reach that peak, and then we will just climb back down. It is crazy. I already want to start over, negotiate more primitive standards. Am I really accomplishing a great feat when so many are required to get me there? Or maybe the team of people helping me accomplish all my life’s feats are just not as obvious on other endeavors. I do not know.
I did have good conversation with Urio today. He is originally from Arusha, but moved to Moshi to guide for Kilimanjaro. His family is from the Meru tribe. His father has two wives, ten sons, and seven daughters. Urio is the youngest. To be a Kilimanjaro guide, Urio had to go to mountaineering college. And Urio was just married in January. I got to talk to his wife on the phone when we had a brief moment of service. He has also taught me many words: ndoto njema = nice dreams, sama hani = sorry, haraka, haraka = faster, faster. To name a few.
Each evening Urio plans to have a recap session with me, to make sure I am feeling ok, talk about the next day’s plan, and, now, my having him repeat all the words he taught me while hiking so I can write them down. Despite my early arrival, it was cold and shrouded in a thick wet fog, so no one was wandering around the camp. Even posting up outside and taking purposely long walks through the camp, I did not get to interact with any other humans. I put in my ear plugs to drown out the clattering of a camp busy with chores and companionship.
Part of my massive breakfast. Yes, they hauled all those condiments and containers up for me. I could have done without most of it.
Kibo Peak! The peak of my ambition. My porter, Jofray in front of us on the trail.
Standing on top of First Cave, a lava tube with its side collapsed out.
Standing on top of Second Cave.
My arrival to Kikelelwa Camp just before 1PM. View from my 5×5 ft isolation box.