9AM – Science-A-Thon

A little about me: I am studying in the Earth Science department under the tutelage of Dr. John Cottle. My current research is aimed at understanding the processes behind subduction of the Pacific plate beneath the East Antarctic craton approximately 500 million years ago. Similar to modern subduction along the coast of South America creating the Andes Mountains, subduction in Antarctica led to emplacement of igneous plutonic bodies that make up the Transantarctic Mountains exposed today. The paleo-Pacific margin was very extensive and long-lived. I am helping further define the tectonic history along that margin by researching how the timing and geometry of subduction changed along the margin through time.


Please join me in championing this cause to help support future generations of scientists by donating at my campaign page: https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/science-a-thon-2018/elizabetherickson11/ You can also follow my “Day of Science” on Instagram @schemerthedreamer


#dayofscience #scientistforaday #scienceathon

#womenleadSTEM #womenwhoscience #womenofscience #500WS #distractinglysexy

#scientists #science #geology #earthscience

#schemerthedreamer #lifeinmotion

#scientistsarenormalhumans #thisiswhatIdoasascientist #youmightliketoknow

@science_a_thon #ESWN @500womensci @elementargroup @promega @transnetyx @johnsoncontrols @ncfdd @rochesequencing @ametsoc @madisoncommfdn @alliantenergy

8AM – Science-A-Thon

I try to start work early, while the building is still quiet and I have the office to myself. I typically use this time to check emails, make an agenda for the day, and check off what I accomplished the previous day on my master “To Do” list. Pro Tip: Last year I started keeping a paper calendar to log the hours I work each day and what I accomplish each day. I find it extremely useful to see how much time I spend on activities like clerical work, course work, research, etc. Being able to break the cycle of spending all my time answering emails and doing side tasks for others has dramatically focused my work life. My work ethic has become more focused and efficient, and the calendar has become an important tool for quickly remembering when I worked on something last. It also helps keep me honest about doing work at work, and better separating my personal life from work life. Grad school is a constant balancing act of maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and keeping a work log has really helped me get more out of both spheres of life.


Please join me in championing this cause to help support future generations of scientists by donating at my campaign page: https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/science-a-thon-2018/elizabetherickson11/ You can also follow my “Day of Science” on Instagram @schemerthedreamer


#dayofscience #scientistforaday #scienceathon

#womenleadSTEM #womenwhoscience #womenofscience #500WS #distractinglysexy

#scientists #science #geology #earthscience

#schemerthedreamer #lifeinmotion

#scientistsarenormalhumans #thisiswhatIdoasascientist #youmightliketoknow

@science_a_thon #ESWN @500womensci @elementargroup @promega @transnetyx @johnsoncontrols @ncfdd @rochesequencing @ametsoc @madisoncommfdn @alliantenergy

7AM – Science-A-Thon

Sometimes I dog-sit for one of the Earth Science professors, Roberta Rudnick. I love waking up to a beautiful sunrise looking over Santa Barbara from the Santa Ynez foothills before taking Murphy on a quick 3 mile run along Mission Canyon. Murphy has a LOT of energy, so I try to tire him out early in the day.


Please join me in championing this cause to help support future generations of scientists by donating at my campaign page: https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/science-a-thon-2018/elizabetherickson11/ You can also follow my “Day of Science” on Instagram @schemerthedreamer


#dayofscience #scientistforaday #scienceathon

#womenleadSTEM #womenwhoscience #womenofscience #500WS #distractinglysexy

#scientists #science #geology #earthscience

#schemerthedreamer #lifeinmotion

#scientistsarenormalhumans #thisiswhatIdoasascientist #youmightliketoknow

@science_a_thon #ESWN @500womensci @elementargroup @promega @transnetyx @johnsoncontrols @ncfdd @rochesequencing @ametsoc @madisoncommfdn @alliantenergy

Science-A-Thon welcome!

Hello! Today I am participating in a science outreach event call Science-A-Thon. Science-A-Thon is a social media event to showcase the many different people and activities involved in science, as well as the largest annual fundraiser for the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN; link: https://eswnonline.org), an international organization supporting women in science. This year’s goal is to raise $75,000 for ESWN. Please join me in championing this cause to help support future generations of scientists by donating at my campaign page: https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/science-a-thon-2018/elizabetherickson11/ You can also follow my “Day of Science” on Instagram @schemerthedreamer, on my blog (https://elizabeth-erickson.com/blog), and on Facebook. You can also follow the official Twitter feed @science_a_thon. Thank you for your support!


#dayofscience #scientistforaday #scienceathon

#womenleadSTEM #womenwhoscience #womenofscience #500WS #distractinglysexy

#scientists #science #geology #earthscience

#schemerthedreamer #lifeinmotion

#scientistsarenormalhumans #thisiswhatIdoasascientist #youmightliketoknow

@science_a_thon #ESWN @500womensci @elementargroup @promega @transnetyx @johnsoncontrols @ncfdd @rochesequencing @ametsoc @madisoncommfdn @alliantenergy

Science-a-thon 2018!

ATTENTION: The original June date was changed to October 15-19. This provides even more time to help me raise funds for the ESWN campaign.


Science-A-Thon is a five day celebration of science and scientists – from the lab to the field, from learning to teaching, from routine tasks to major discoveries! From October 15-19, participating scientists will take you along for a #dayofscience by sharing photos on social media! Science-A-Thon will raise money for the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN) and Science Forward. Science Forward is a STEM-wide initiative launched by ESWN that empowers scientists, promotes scientists as role models, and builds on-ramps for students to engage in STEM.

On October 18th I will be sharing my own #dayofscience for the 2018 #scienceathon through my Instagram (@schemerthedreamer), Blog (www.elizabeth-erickson.com), and Facebook (Elizabeth Erickson). My goal is to raise $1000 toward this campaign. Join me to help support future generations of scientists!


Join the campaign and donate today!



CrowdRise GoFundMe campaign: https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/science-a-thon-2018/elizabetherickson11

Science-a-thon 2018: https://www.scienceathon.org/what

Earth Science Women’s Network: https://eswnonline.org

Kilimanjaro trek day six – Marangu Gate and back to Moshi

Kilimanjaro trek day six – Marangu Gate and back to Moshi

I woke at 5:53AM to Joshua bringing me a bucket of hot water. It was so luxurious. We wanted an early start, so the plan was to wake at 6AM, eat breakfast at 6:30AM, and hit the trail as quickly as possible. After breaky, the guys surprised me with singing the Kilimanjaro and Hakuna Matata songs.

“Jambo, jambo bwana. Habari gani? Nzuri sana.

Wegen mwakari bishwa Kilimanjaro. Hakuna matata.”

–>Hello, hello mister. How are you? I am fine. Guest, you are welcome to Kilimanjaro. No worries!

It was pretty adorable actually. And they sounded really beautiful in that talk-singing style. I gave them all thank you cards after that. And then we set off for Marangu Gate. We moved quickly. Urio let me pick my own pace today! It was great to be in the lead. When we reached the forest again, this side of the mountain is considerably wetter than the north side where I started, we saw blue monkeys and black and white colombos! They were not shy at all. We also passed along numerous parasitic cones on the mountain flank.

Marangu Gate
20 km from Horombo Camp

At Marangu Gate, Urio registered my summit. I received an official certificate of completion issued by the Tanzanian government! I also learned that Betos lives just below the gate. He took me to his restaurant for lunch instead of packing me a lunch. It was great! Betos and Godiliza stayed there and the rest of us headed back. Serafin happened to be at the gate, since the large Estonia group that went up the day before on the same route was coming down. They were weird and very antisocial. I was glad I had a separate ride back. In the office, I received a completion shirt, Kilimanjaro beer, and received my certificate. Urio talked to the business next door so I could get it laminated, and then he took me to an electronics store so I could buy a USB outlet plug. All my devices were long dead and I had a whole extra day in Moshi to catch up on life. Urio found out he was heading right back up Kili tomorrow. His fourth continuous trip up the mountain. What a hard life.

I returned to the same hotel as before. Very ready for a shower, repacking, and rest. What an awesome experience this has been. There are not many words to describe something at the end. Accomplished, finished, now we all go home. The journey is the part worth listing, I suppose.


Kilimanjaro trek day five – Uhuru summit and Horombo Camp

Kilimanjaro trek day five – Uhuru summit and Horombo Camp

My tent feels like a 5×5 ft prison cell. I have spent so much time in it that I have begun to recognize very specific details. One of the mesh doors is ripped open, they always set the tent up so I won’t use that door. From that orientation, the left wall has the number “97” stamped on it in black but horizontally flipped. The right wall near the front door has the “Kessy Brothers Tours LTD” info stamped on it in red, backwards from my perspective. The tent was folded when stamped, so there are two straight-edged offset gaps breaking up the label. It also bled through to the adjacent door wall. The tent fly is gray, a nice contrast to the tent’s yellow. The front left fly wall has a printed white brand or promotion: Kilimanjaro Outfitters http://www.kilimajaro-outfitters.com. The ceiling is a point where four triangles meet, the front triangle made of mesh, the rest nylon. The floor is black, the door zippers are black, all the mesh is black, and all the little fabric door ties are black. I stare out the front mesh door onto the world, deliriously happy but ready to be rid of this cell.

Nime fika! I made it to the top!

We left camp at 12:30AM, the last group to depart. We steadily caught up and passed every group as we made our way up the crater wall. Urio pointed out the various “stops” as we climbed. Pretty much every time there is a flat spot with any semblance of shelter, there is a resting stop. We stopped very little. For the most part, the trail climbs at a 45-degree angle between vertical and a true switch back. I liked the trail for the most part. It started as shallow, fine scree; super easy going. The segment segment just before Jamaica Point was soft, deep scree and at a steeper angle. I did not like it as much on the way up as I did on the way down, we we basically skied down the scree super fast. Starting at Jamaica Point, the trail stipends and becomes rocky. It was also long, in that there were not good resting places until Gilman’s Point, the top of the wall. At Gilman’s Point there was a little congratulatory sign. Urio and I had already passed everyone on our route by then. It was nice except for the magnitude of trash abandoned around this flat platform. It was disgusting! The whole trail up, actually, from Kibo to Gilman’s was disgusting. A lot of human waste, just right off the trail, and even more toilet paper. I feel confident that every rock I sat on must have been peed on at least once in the past month. It was filthy. LNT people!

Gilman’s Point
5685 meters/18652 feet

Anyway, we hurried past Gillman’s and quickly arrived at Stella Point. That segment was relatively flat, basically curving around the old crater wall rim that has blown out several times before going dormant. It was really lovely with snow all along it. We took one detour where last month a giant rock block collapsed and ruined the trail there. Though of course, we could see the footprints of people who still took that path, tracks pressed into former days’ melted snow. Stella Point is where the Rongai/Marangu Routes meet the Machame Route. Most people climb the Machame Route. We could see the lights of at least 100 people on their way up the Machame route. I couldn’t believe it!

Stella Point
5756 meters/18885 feet

We were still too early for sunrise but continued forward. Urio was very strict today about making me walk slowly and take lots of breaks. He wanted to arrive early to miss the masses, but also late enough that the sun was rising we I arrived. In a sheltered cove just before the summit, we took a long break to wait out the darkness. We had known since we reached Stella that I wouldn’t be the first to reach the summit, so there was no rush to get over to just wait out the sunrise at the exposed summit. When we finished walking over, there were still pretty few people. We didn’t stay long, but I try to capture heaps of photos, revel in the moment, and eat a victory snack. I can imagine the chaos in trying to get photographs once the masses arrive. People had total disregard for others. As we headed back down a large group arrived and a few just walked right up to the sign despite another group already in process of taking their victory shots. Humans are selfish creatures. At least the sunrise was spectacular! It lit up the sky with a myriad of colors on the lower-lying clouds. Beautiful!

Mount Kilimanjaro
Uhuru Peak, Tanzania
5895 meters/19341 feet

The return trip was exceptionally fun and fast! We quickly traversed back along the crater to Gilman’s Point. I took all the photos on the way down that it was too dark to take on the way up. I spent a lot of time staring out at the glacier, a dwindling ice mass that helped shape Kili’s face. Once we reached the crater wall we literally just went straight down the scree. I felt like I was running through jello, sinking up to my knees in scree, except every step I took brought me 6 feet down the mountain. It was exhilarating! The best controlled fall I have ever accomplished, and I love racing downhill. What an incredible feeling! We began at 12:30AM, reached the summit at 6:06AM, and returned to camp at 8:15AM. I pulled out my stash of Snicker bars when we arrived back at camp and had a quick celebration with my crew.

After our celebration, I stripped off my clothes and passed out for two hours. I woke to Joshua bringing me water and lunch. I was deliriously happy. And I still had no appetite. I think maybe my stomach biota don’t like Diamox. My mouth has also developed a few very painful sores over the week. So in addition to not feeling hungry, my mouth also burns when I drink hot fluid. It is a good thing tomorrow is the last day. Once I ate, camp was packed at an inextricable rate and we were off to continue hiking down to Horombo Camp. The standard practice to quickly descend after reaching high altitude to prevent the development of any altitude illnesses. It was a nice gradual downhill the whole way. Urio told me that the guides and porters from other groups think I am really strong. Jeff and Patty’s guide called me a machine when he saw me come down about 8:15AM that morning. I suppose I appreciate their praise, but it feels somewhat back-handed and unearned in the same breath. These guides and porters are climbing Kili as often as work allows and no one comments on how strong they are. They don’t even use Diamox or any other preventative medications. Urio even told me that sometimes the porters have illnesses like altitude sickness or typhoid and they can get really sick coming up the mountain, but they need work and so climb anyway. Second, I did not climb this mountain. A crew of 6 men brought me up this mountain. Don’t get me wrong, I feel accomplished. This is the highest altitude I have ever reached, no struggles, no altitude problems. But it is not a singular accomplishment, in many ways. Urio has summited Uhuru over 100 times, now that is an accomplishment.

Anyway, we made our way to Horombo Camp. It was a shock to my senses. It is on the Marangu trail, so has huts, but there are so many buildings! And a large number of people behind on their own paths down. Two new massive dorms are currently being built. It was total madness.

Horombo Hut (camp)
3720 meters amsl
11 km roundtrip to Uhuru Peak + 9.5 km down from Kibo Camp

I was till pretty tired and overwhelmed by the volume of bodies and noise, so I spent the afternoon repacking all my possessions and preparing for the final trek out tomorrow. I wanted to make rounds of the campsite, but was intimidated by the sheer volume of people. I did catch up with Graham, the British camp set up directly next to mine. I had seen him briefly on my way down Uhuru while Urio and I made a breakneck pace down the scree.



Kilimanjaro trek day four – Kibo Tarn Camp

Kilimanjaro trek day four – Kibo Tarn Camp

Today I woke at 6AM. I am not sure why, but I have woken before my alarm every day this week. I had a beautiful sunrise this morning. Mawenzi’s face brightly lit with the rising sun. Camp came alive early this morning too. We only had a very short distance to the base camp. We had great views over the vast alpine desert saddle to Kibo. Kilimanjaro also has Africa’s only glaciers. Those glaciers are responsible for forming the valleys and canyons, eroding and smoothing the mountain around Kibo into gentle undulations. As we hiked along, all the porters and groups in front looked like a long line of ants heading to Kibo Camp. The whole distance visible. I passed the British group to receive warm hello’s from Graham and Phoebe. I am glad I met another group I might share the summit with. Jeff and Patty will spend an extra acclimation day at Kibo Camp, so I will see them today and tomorrow before my group begins the journey down. We also saw buffalo tracks cutting across the trail! Very interesting to think those behemoths saunter up this mountain like no big deal. Urio says they only move around at night, when it is cooler.

Kibo Hut (Camp)
4720 meters amsl
8.5 km from Mawenzi Camp

Kibo Camp is where the Nalemuru/Rongai route meets the Marangu route. The Marangu route has shelters the whole way up, so it is pretty popular and heavily used. Our camp felt like it tripled. Since we arrived so early, I was able to watch most of that morning’s summiters as they returned to camp. There were heaps of porters waiting around the camp for their tourists to return so they could continue the day’s agenda down to Horombo Camp. Camp is nicely nestled at the base of the Kibo crater wall. The path tomorrow will go pretty straight up, then a traverse around to the true peak.

There were a bunch of cool rocks to climb on around camp and I took lots of photos. I also spent a nice time with Patty and Jeff. If I already did not think them badasses, I learned they are both in their 70’s and just starting their own Seven Summits ambitions. They already have Mont Blanc in queue for this summer and plans for Aconcagua. I wish I had more time to pursue these same ambitions.

I requested no lunch but to have a 3PM supper so I can sleep. I need to rest for the big day tomorrow/tonight! I have everything packed and ready to go. I will wake around 11PM for tea and cookies before we set off.


Kilimanjaro trek day three – Mawenzi Camp

Kilimanjaro trek day three – Mawenzi Camp

Same routine. Woke at 6:30AM, dressed, packed, ate breakfast, and we were off. I took some sunrise photos too! I couldn’t quite get a direct view of the sun rising, but is was still beautiful. And Kibo was all lit up while everything else remained dark awhile longer. Since we started, the Kenyan plains have been blurred by a hazy cloud layer. I think the guys were prepped for my morning punctuality. They were packed and off running very quickly. Though everything was also covered in a thin layer of frost, so maybe they were just cold and trying to get moving.

When I unzipped my tent door, it did not move at all, seemingly defying gravity, with the stiffness of frost. Everyone was wearing big, thick coats and hats this morning. The temperature wasn’t that uncomfortable to me, so I only added a hat and gloves to my regular hiking apparel. There is a quite large Russian group among our floating tourist village. They are very loud late into the night, and their head guy hikes with a huge flag and emblazoned YouTube channel where, I presume, he will feed the video footage from the GoPro attached to his chest. They do not interact with anyone outside their group.

We were the second group to hit the trail. The pattern more obvious now. The porters’s tents go down first, and the moment someone has their 20 kilos, they take off. Then in waves, off go tents, future supplies, and whatever else becomes packable, all filing out of camp. Literally reducing the present body count by 50%, since about 3/4 of our entire camp population are the porters. Urio told me that the guide to tourist ratio is 1:1, 2:2-4, 3:5-7, 4:8-11, and so on. That way if any one person has to turn around, there is still a guide remaining to keep trekking the team up. Reflecting back on Oldonyo Lengai, that practice seems very smart. But it sure creates a huge quantity of porters for each individual tourist.

As expected, even with ample “pole, pole,” we arrived at the next camp just after 10AM. Joshua had a bucket of hot water waiting for me. It was really nice! Then Urio and I went on an acclimation hike up on of Mawenzi’s ridges. Unbeknownst to me, hiking on Mawenzi did not mean hiking to its summit. That was outlawed back in 2009, or something. Urio did let me go up until we reached true outcrop so I could look at the rocks. Urio was very interested to talk about the geology with me.

Mount Kilimanjaro is pretty geologically interesting. It is one of the largest free-standing mountains in the world, formed by the culmination of three volcanoes merging together. Less than a million years ago, Shira volcano formed from massive amounts of pressure build-up in the East African rifting. Eventually it ceased erupting and collapsed, forming the main bulk of the Kilimanjaro mountain. Mawenzi volcano immediately began to form within the massive caldera left behind from Shira. About 460,000 years ago, Kibo peak began forming through a series of eruptions west of Mawenzi. Kibo continued to erupt and rise to its present height of 5900 meters. A later eruption ~100,000 years later produced all the black shiny obsidian-esqe lava rock that covers much of the mountain surface today. Continued activity led to the formation of several small cones on the mountain flanks, and about 200 years ago the formation of Reusch Crater inside the main Kibo summit. Kilimanjaro is considered formant today (I can verify that indicative sulfurous smell when I reached Kibo’s summit).

When we arrived at camp, there were already people there, taking an acclimation day. Urio and I passed one group from Britain on their own acclimation hike as we checked out the rocks. Many groups take two days here to acclimate. Even with the acclimation hike I was back at camp by 11:30AM. I will have ample time to rest, so we will continue to Kibo Camp tomorrow.

Mawenzi Tarn Hut (camp)
4315 meter amsl
4 km from Kikelelwa Camp
2.5 km acclimation hike on Mawenzi

Today I learned that Urio’s full name is actually Penieli Samuel Urio, but he goes by Urio because it is shorter. I am also growing quite restless. I have walked around the whole camp several times, climbed up a few rocks to see views and take photos, I talked with Jeff and Patty, and still I spent much time alone in my tent again. At least the sun came back out, my tent is warm and cozy now. I also met some of the people from the British group who arrived yesterday: Phoebe and Graham, plus Robinn, their British guide. They all seem quite nice. Robinn works in conjunction with a Tanzanian guide. He was very concerned at my pace up the mountain and my plan to skip an acclimation day. Almost all of our camp will move to Kibo tomorrow. I estimate it at 50 tourists and ~150 crew members. A crazy ratio. It makes me wonder how many porters are required per hiker to summit Mount Everest. Heck, just to hike to the first camp! This is a crazy ratio to me. I earnestly think I may try to return to Tanzania for a second summit, but without all the excess, and definitely much faster. Maybe via the Lemosho Route or something on the west side of the mountain.

Urio and I had our nightly recap and talked strategy for tomorrow. I also showed him many of my safari photos. We also talked logistics for me ending a day early, since I would have to stay an extra night in Moshi.


Kilimanjaro trek day two – Kikelelwa Camp

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.

Kikelelwa Camp
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.

IMG_5259Part of my massive breakfast. Yes, they hauled all those condiments and containers up for me. I could have done without most of it.

IMG_5260Kibo Peak! The peak of my ambition. My porter, Jofray in front of us on the trail.

IMG_5261Standing on top of First Cave, a lava tube with its side collapsed out.

IMG_5262Standing on top of Second Cave.

IMG_5263     My arrival to Kikelelwa Camp just before 1PM.IMG_5073 View from my 5×5 ft isolation box.