Friday, November 25, 2005

Day 7 Snow

It is totally silent again, I like being the only one awake. There are very few other groups with us now and the feeling of isolation and solitude are extreme and are bedfellows with the crisp coldness and fading darkness. Again, I wander to the t.t., well before 6 a.m. and enjoy the quickly fading moon and stars. As I fold myself back into my down-filled mummy sleeping bag, I realize that I am finally comfortable in it. I zip up the hood, find the still warm nalgene bottle, and enjoy a brief snooze before Buiat calls us for morning tea, or brings us water to wash with, never sure which will be first.

As usual we have a wonderful breakfast, it is cream of wheat today and I find I just can not get it down. I think the beginning of appetite loss is appearing, one of the signs of altitude. But my stats are great, oxygen at 90 and pulse in the 70's, not bad for 15,000 feet, whoohooo... Twende! (let's go).

Today we are making our way to Arrow Camp, a short but very steep hike to around 16,000 feet. The day after is going to be the long, hard scramble up the Breach, so today is to be easy and we are planning another acclimatization hike this afternoon. As we make the steep ascent the clouds and mist engulf us and the temperature drops. The last half hour of trekking the landscape is eerie and uneasy, it is hard to see and as we approach the camp there are faint outlines of rocky shapes. The shapes take form as I trudge closer... the rocky flank of the mountain is sprinkled with inukshuks, built by porters over time.

We get to camp early, only 1 1/2 hours of hiking. The porters greet us with song again and we sing back to them, which totally delights them. As they are singing to us again it starts to snow and snows for many hours. No more hiking today.

Arrow Camp

Snowy Arrow Camp

I am worried about tomorrow, it is an unknown, I have never faced a difficult climb before. While the snow is falling we rest up, sleep, journal, until the sun briefly breaks through and the snow stops.

As I come out of the tent I see a totally different landscape, pristine, white and beautiful. The snow is perfect for building snowmen, or ... having a snowball fight. Which is exactly what D.G. and I do, we start a snowball fight with our guides and even (accidentally of course) get a few porters too. What fun, a snowball fight at 16,000 feet! To top it all off, Simon and I play Frisbee with a lid from a plastic can.

Me and Simon, throwing snowballs at hiding porters:

Snowball fight

The view from Arrow Camp is spectacular. The clouds are below us, Mt. Meru pops through the clouds and below the clouds are the plains of Tanzania. Standing at the edge of the camp on the rock wall the view is endless and unbelievably breathtaking. I am insignificant and small.

View from Arrow Camp

View of Mt. Meru from Arrow Camp

Arrow Camp, and the clouds

We have to divide up our belongings and start sharing a duffel bag, oh my goodness, how is that going to be possible? Half of the porters will take our stuff to Millenium Camp half way down the mountain. The rest goes with us to the summit. All I need is my cold weather clothes for two days, and something dry to put on. I plan to sleep in most of it as we are to get up very early tomorrow and start the Western Breach in the dark.

I will be fine, I am healthy, in fairly good shape and not suffering too much from the altitude. I have started taking the diamox today though.

Tomorrow the Breach....

The Western Breach


bayou_boy504 said...

Good luck with your next climb. Those are some amazing pictures.

JB said...

Simply amazing--your photographs are breathtaking; they really show how far you’ve climbed and how gorgeous the view is above the clouds. You must have felt as though you were on top of the world.

I want to climb Kilimanjaro, now, too.


librarychik said...

Thanks bayou boy, I was thinking the next trip might be to Peru, but I do not think anything can match Kili

JB, I would highly recommend going, and shell out the extra and go with Tusker on the Western Breach, it truly is amazing.

I wish I could take credit for the photos, but A.W. did take some incredible pics :-)

missjackie said...

I realize that I am chimming in a little late here, but I am so jealous! You are doing exactly something akin to what I want to do someday. I have it in mind to hike the whole Pacific Crest Trail (not in all one shot) someday. While this is no excuse, I just don't even know where to start. I love to hike, but I have never been on an extended hiking trip or even camped out in the woods. These were just things that I haven't done yet, but have always been interested in doing. I should take some inspiration from you and your blog and start seriously looking into it.

librarychik said...

Miss Jackie, I would encourage anyone to start hiking and camping. There is nothing quite like being in the middle of the natural environment, at least as much as possible. Good luck, the trail sounds great. You should also look a the West Coast Trail part of the Pacific Rim National Park in British Columbia. A bit more rugged, but it is on my list too.