I got up that morning and took the last shower I would take in a week. I went to breakfast and saw my group and I joined them for breakfast. I went and grabbed some fruit from the buffet and had some tea and water. I knew that I should drink as much now because Id still be on the ground in Moshi for another 2 hours and would have access to proper bathrooms…on the mountain…yea…about that….it would be nature all the way :/. Generally when I go on trips I just stop drinking water from the beginning because I don’t really want to deal with bathrooms but a sitting bathroom would be better than a hole in the ground which was what the next 7 days was going to be like. We finished off our breakfast and I liked the company I would have for the next 7 days. They were relaxed and friendly and we were all here to quench our thirst for adventure..
After breakfast we all headed to our rooms to pick up all of our stuff and load the car. We then headed to the head office where we got our two bottles of water. We would get this here and from the second day forward these same bottles would be refilled everyday from the streams of Kilimanjaro. I used the bathroom for one last time at the offices.
We headed to the car and it had been loaded with huge bags which would carry our tents..our food ..basically all we needed on the mountain..we then drove for around 45 mins and arrived at the Machame gate. It took about an hour to register us and to weigh all of our stuff at the gate. Porters aren’t allowed to carry more than 15 kg per person – its a law to protect them and so everything has to be weighed..and if you surpass that then you have to hire another porter..
As we sat and waited we met 3 other climbers who were waiting..one of them was a canadian from Toronto who was on a world tour it seemed and the other two were Americans. We spoke for a little bit..discussed Diamox – lol..and just spoke in general. It was then time to go . I remembered go slowly..that was everyone’s advice – just go slowly. I’m glad I was given this advice because I don’t know if I would have tried harder to keep up if I hadn’t. We had a guide and an assistant guide who would stick with us ( Freddy and Alfred) and the rest of the porters would definitely go ahead and surpass us. They were used to carrying heavy loads and walking this mountain. Yet it did seem like difficult work.
As I walked, I thought of pole pole but at the same time I’m not even sure if I tried I could have gone faster. It was already a steep incline of a walk and it was just the beginning. I know the thinking behind pole pole was to save your energy for later days when you would really need it ( basically the summit) but I really dont know if i could have gone faster. Today we would walk through a rainforest – surprisingly no bugs. As we walked Alfred came up to me and told me to take off my daypack and he held it and said it was too heavy. I am a bit of an over packer – I rather take too much than too little..light packing is something I have yet to master – but on a mountain this is not a good idea..when youre walking for 7 hours a day..a little bit of extra weight can go a long distance. Alfred took my 3 litres of water from me and kept it in his bag and told me to tell him when I wanted some. I already felt a huge load of my shoulders…
We walked and walked and eventually stopped for lunch at about 2. We had gotten a pack from our guides which included a sandwhich , a cupcake, a banana , fruit juice and biscuits. I ate a bit of it and saved some of it for the road ahead. For some reason I was expecting things to become really hard and chose to save up for later.
The day wore on and as I climbed uphill I kind of wondered how I was going to do this for 7 days. I also wondered why I had such crazy dreams and why I couldn’t just settle for a resort next to the beach. Lol , here I was in the middle of dense jungle climbing uphill and seriously tired and trying not to drink too much water to try and avoid going to the bathroom.
About 1 hour and a half before we got to our first camp – Machame- I asked Freddy how far we were from our camp and he said 200m . Now when I think 200 m I think like a 10 minute dash…that race we used to do in high school. I guess I didnt take the whole uphill point into perspective and yea an hour and a half later we were there.
There was a sense of relief as we got to the first camp. It had grown cool and our tents were already pitched up for us. We were also brought a basin of warm water to wash ourselves with which was more than any of us had expected. As I washed myself I decided I just wanted to pray quickly while I was still clean and so changed out of my clothes and into a rainjacket and some pants and quickly prayed on the ground. The ground was cold and wet and doing my ablutions just made me colder – I knew this was going to be a hard 7 days. We were then called in for some tea and popcorn. I thought this was a real luxury but would soon realize that they would be trying to feed us and make us drink constantly to make sure we kept healthy. We sat in a tent and ate our popcorn and tea and then dinner was served. One of the climbers joked if it was going to be steak but funny enough it was beef pieces and potatoes which was pretty high class for being up on a mountain. WE were also served some soup ( liquids) and then some fruit on the side. It was about 730 and we were done dinner and all exhausted. Even though I had been drinking minimal water the tea and the soup and the water had added up. It was dark and I would have to go and get my headlamp to go to the bathroom. There was no electricity just a candle for dinner and all of our headlamps. The bathroom was literally a hole in the ground surrounded by 4 wooden walls. The difference between that and outside was the privacy given by the wooden walls and it was probably dirtier than outside but i preferred privacy. As I crawled back into my sleeping bag kind of freezing , I thought to myself : This is going to be the toughest week of your life. It wasn;t just the climb that would prove to be challenging but the actual conditions of things such as the bathroom and trying to stay clean. It would be about leaving my comfort behind. and having to drink water and go to the bathroom constantly throughout this trip. Anyways, I went to sleep and slept soundly till 6:00 am the next morning.
PS: Due to Very Slow Internet Connection – pictures have not been uploaded yet but keep checking and I’ll Upload them ASap 🙂