Sunday, December 04, 2005

It's ALL downhill from here

Please hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on.... silent prayer to my knee, which is twinging already as I make my early morning trip to the t.t. Kilimanjaro looms over us, but is no longer daunting. That challenge has been faced and is behind us now. It is beautiful, white-capped and serene. The sky behind it is turning a brilliant blue while the clouds are still below us on the other side of camp.

Simon breakfasts with us, he tells he is proud of us. He gives us a pep talk about going quickly the rest of the way down and staying together. I think this will be difficult as right now, some of us are not in as good shape as others. (Myself being in the not so good shape right now category). He leaves us in the hands of Urio and Charles so he can reach Mweka gate before noon and get our certificates ready. It is a Sunday and will be too late if he waits.

Before we leave Millenium camp, we get a last treat, all the porters in camp, ours and others, sing us a special song. It is the "Kilimanjaro song". For those who have reached the summit, it is truly a joyful sound.

The music is invigorating and I feel like I will have absolutely no trouble today. Surely the worst is over with? We sling our daypacks on for the last time and make our way down the path and away from camp, the peak of Kilimanjaro behind us now. We stop and gather ourselves just out of sight of the camp and sing back to the porters one more time. As we finish we hear cheering and clapping. I smile, from the inside out. It stays with me for a very short time, because soon my knee is starting to cause extreme, sharp pain and I have over 4 hours of downhill to go!

All I can say about the trip down is that I was in excruciating pain, but I refused to stop (I do not think I could have started going again to be honest) and I would not even consider in my deepest, private thoughts that I would be carried down the last few thousand feet on a stretcher. Uh uh.. no way, not this chicky. NO!

So, my utmost and deeply felt thanks go to my co-trekkers, who were very supportive and caring. Especially to R.C. who stayed with me, made me laugh, told me stories, (I especially liked the tushy push story) and helped over the rough spots, when I know he could easily have gone much quicker without me and been resting in the shade long before I ever made it down the hill.

Simon knew of my troubles and sent the landrover as high as it could go up the trail, and this saved me probably at least a half hour of walking.

There were many photo ops along the way and below are few of A.W.'s beautiful flora pics.

flora on the way down

Flora on Kilimanjaro

After over five and half hours of downhill and a very bumpy ride, we reached the hotel in the late afternoon. The day ended with a long, hot shower at the hotel (the first in 10 days) oh bliss, a wonderful meal and Tusker beer, my favourite Tanzanian ale and plenty of ibuprofin.

What more can I possibly say? I climbed one of the most beautiful mountains with the best group of people and had the good fortune to be with guides that have no equal. It was the best of times...


JB said...

I am so proud of you at this point—you did it! And best of all you didn’t let your body dictate your actions, but instead really proved the whole “mind over matter” saying.

Good for you!

librarychik said...

Thanks JB, I was certainly glad to make it on my own, but I think it comes down to being plain ol stubborn!