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The climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro
 
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Day Four - On To The Mountain

   

Moir Hut to Shira Camp Two

2/22/10: The Diamox took effect immediately for me. After breakfast, I was ready to roll. The “taking effect” was similar to how and when a headache goes away. At the exact moment a headache leaves, one does not just say, “Oh, my headache just left.” No, it is more a full energy battle with the pain, then it subsiding as other thoughts and processes take over, then one might realize, “Hey, my headache went away.” The Diamox taking effect was the same thing for me. After breakfast I set out to pack my gear quickly and efficiently, then grabbed my water and poles and fell in line with our acclimatization team. We made the side hike up the ridge, I focused on my next step, my breathe, the trail, made it to the top, then somewhere along the line, realized I was feeling better, stronger, almost invincible. But I was afraid to feel the last one, though it was gaining ground within me.

I just mentioned my water above, which reminds me of my questions before actually beginning this journey, “What about water?” “Where does it come from?” “Will I get Sick?” You may have asked yourself this question, I mean I wondered about the bathroom facilities as well. When you go on a journey like this, you find out real quick how these things work. The water situation basically is dependent on each camp. Or maybe I should say that each camp is dependent on water.

Though water covers most of the world, I quote the latest “Water” issue of the National Geographic in that 97% of the world’s water is salty. Two percent is fresh water locked in snow and ice, leaving less than once percent for us. Everywhere we had camped, had a water source nearby. I am referring to a stream or spring. The streams all run down from the mountain and are made up of glacier runoff, part of the 2%, and rain from the higher altitudes, part of the less than 1%. Our water basically came from nearly 3% frozen and fresh water sources mentioned.

 

Barry and Sahin ready to roll
Sachin & Barry are seen here, ready to go. The father and son team just came off of a successful pre-Kili climb of Mt. Meru. Be sure to check out their website here!

We did not drink the water directly out of the streams however. Once the porters reached the camp area and began setting up the tents, another team of porters set out for the closest water source, usually within a few hundred yards at most, and collected big jugs of water. The water is then ferried back to camp and either boiled or prepared using water purification tablets. The tablets took at minimum 30 minutes to work. I found the tablets to have no taste at all, and could not tell the difference between water purified with tablets, or the boiled water. All I remember is that everything I read said drinking lots of water would be one of the most important factors in preventing altitude sickness.

I worked hard to drink as much water a possible. With my chest cold, on day one I proudly drank five liters’ of water. They recommend a minimum of 3 liters’ per day, but I was sick and I felt it. I did everything I could to drink as much water as possible each day. So each day, I made sure to have my camel back filled, that held 2 liters, and my water bottle filled, that held 1 liter, along with filling up at our lunch time stop as needed. I tried to drink the camel back as quickly as I could in the morning, hoping to fill up again at lunch, which normally I did. Water was a big factor in maintaining my health on the mountain.

I also feel that I did not get sick from it at all. My stomach sickness came when I reached Kenya. In Nairobi, my stomach began to hurt about a day after arriving there after climbing Kili, and the only water I know I took in that wasn’t bottled was when I brushed my teeth. I think that was enough. My stomach hurt the whole time I was in Nairobi, and for about a week and a half after returning to America.

Since I mentioned Nairobi, I also want to suggest to anyone considering a similar journey to mine, that plans to fly into Nairobi, then take the Riverside shuttle to Arusha, stay in Arusha or Tanzania as long as possible. Though I had no problems in Nairobi as far as the famous “NaiRobbery” rumor, it is a large, overcrowded, extremely polluted, big city with, in my mind, bad water. We left Arusha way too early. I do not know what I was thinking in that we were checked into a wonderful hotel post-Kili, The Impala, which had a wonderful internet café, three restaurants (Indian, Chinese and Italian), a pool and fenced courtyard, it was close to downtown, the people were extremely accommodating, the dollar in Tanzania was worth $1.35 as opposed to Kenya where it was only worth .70, and the general atmosphere was more laid back and “Vacationie!” Do yourself a favor, stay in Arusha as long as you can, and/or visit Moshi. I loved Tanzania, what a wonderful country. There are also plenty of coffee plantations to visit, along with available safaris if you should so desire. After descending the mountain, it was wonderful to just lie around for a few days, but I had wished I done that a few days more.

Angie at the top of the ridge
Angie enjoys the view, the sun and this ridge. Did you ever wonder what one of these ridges look like when your far away and you see them? Well this is it, all big, jagged rocks. That is about it, minus the beautiful girl of course!
The ridge
Looking up the ridge we just climbed, you see the peak that the group scaled the night before during the acclimatization hike Angie and I missed the night before. Bruno's site has some really good photos from on top of that thing, check em out!

Back on the mountain, with my water bottles full, we made our Day Four hike to Shira Camp Two. It was somewhat uneventful, which was fine for me. I did not take that many photographs for the scenery was pretty much the same at this point, and my batteries were wearing down. So I do not have a lot to show you here, just words.

When we arrived at Shira Camp Two, Frank our guide pointed out our tent, and Angie and I quickly checked into it. This became a welcomed ritual, to peel off the gaiters and shoes, open the sleeping bags, wash up and take a nap before dinner. There were no side-acclimation hikes this day, and most of the latter part of the hike required our rain gear. Rather than a few intermittent showers throughout the first couple of days, the weather was really perfect for us. This day however ended in a steady, somewhat light tropical rain. Our tents were relatively new and completely dry inside, at least ours was. I did not notice anyone else complaining. So upon stripping the gear and laying on top of my sleeping bag, the rain made for some very comfortable napping time. It was great actually.

With my new found mountain health thanks to the Diamox, sleeping and breathing was no challenge for me. I tailored off quickly to dream land. I almost did not want to even get up for dinner but I knew it was very important in maintaining our health and strength. Of course we had our dinner tent set up, prepared and staffed for us. TK provided another wonderful meal, and even had a porter standing security by our tents while we dined. This is not to imply there were any incidents regarding theft or the like, but I did find it very comforting when we came out of the dining tent after dark and were guided to our tents by a flashlight wielding security guy.

To the right is the view towards Kili, which is totally hiding behind that cloud.

The valley below

A porter is seen here scaling this ridge. Looking down in the valley, our previous camp lay just over the ridge below, passed that smooth basin you see. We would be hiking back down, passing the camp, up and over the other ridge you see. Then back down a bit to Shira Camp Two.

The thought did cross my mind once, “What about our tents while we eat, why couldn’t someone from another climbing party go in our stuff?” I mean, the American in me thinks that way. I constantly have in the back of my mind a watchful eye on my stuff and another looking for anyone that seems to be acting suspiciously. Shira Camp Two was a very busy campground as well. There were several climbing parties, porter camps and even a park ranger station, along with some semi-new outhouses built on concrete pads. In my estimation, I would say there were at least 100 people in and around this campground, probably more. There usually were a lot of activities going on, many different languages being spoken, I mentioned in yesterday’s post the German drinking party that seemed to be having a wonderful time. Each campground was somewhat active, some more than others but all with a life beat of their own. I was happy that TK took into account the many travelers and stationed a porter outside our tents while we all converged on the mess tent. They also kept our lavatory protected for just us, which was a wonderful thing as well. Using the facilities was a big factor when climbing a mountain, as the body did what the body wanted, where and when, no argument. It was so nice always being able to lay your eyes on the loo when you ‘felt the urge.’

As with the water, I had questions regarding the loo. I can not answer them for you other than to tell you a porter carries the set up, maintains the tent with toilet paper and keeps it orderly, and what they do with the waste is a mystery I did not investigate. But I can tell you I did not have to use one of those old wooden outhouses that were usually present at each campsite, and that fact is worth its weight in gold!

The team is seen here relaxing and enjoying the moment.

Day Four ended up somewhat non-eventful. It was maybe our easiest day, relaxed and enjoyable. We ate well, everyone seemed to sleep well, and it was comfortable. The mountain was no nearer or farther than before, it was present and kept a watchful eye on us. I felt inside what we were about to do in the coming days, and I had not really thought about my mountain sickness at all. My chest cold had somewhat moved into my sinuses but really had subsided to a comfortable level, it was really just an irritant at this point. I stopped taking my Cipro for the cold and the Malaria medicine just in case it conflicted with the Diamox. At this point, the most important pill I took was the mountain sickness medication. And it was working, thank God!

Hiking back down past Moir Hut, our previous night's camp area off in the distance, after we hiked back over our water source.

Hiking away from the Moir Hut, I remembered Tom's advice for a great photo opportunity, "just turn around," he said.
The mountain decided to show its face again. This time she tries to hide behind the Moir ridge..
The Moir Hut Camp area, and the ridge we just hiked. Be sure to check the main page on Bruno's site as he has posted a GPS account of our route. It is really interesting as it shows the altitudes as well. Great job Bruno!

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