Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tanzania: Day 4 Kilimanjaro-Kikelewa Caves to Mawenzi Tarn

KIKELEWA CAVES CAMP (11,800 ft.//3600 m) ~ MAWENZI TARN CAMP (14,160 ft./ 4,315 m)
Hiking time: 7 hours

We woke up at Kikelewa Caves Camp to a stunning view of the clouds below us. I can hardly believe how high we are  - above the clouds!

After "water for wash," a delicious breakfast, and a full hydration pack, we were off toward Mawenzi. So far, the walking has been slow and steady and we have already gained about 5,000 feet in altitude over the last 3 days but today we gained 3,700 feet. It was a very slow and almost steady uphill climb and to say I was grateful for three or four steps in a row where I was not climbing is a small understatement.
I looked back a few times and saw the number of people behind us including porters who would soon be passing us to the next destination. Our pace is more on the slower side of time but I don't think any of us much care. We are making steady progress and so far, none of us are achy or have sore muscles from all the climbing.

The landscape is getting much more rugged and there is an almost complete absence of vegetation along the way.

I was cheerful to see a number of stone figures that previous climbers had left along the way as if to let others know that they made it this far.

We were glad to arrive at Mawenzi Tarn Huts but it was getting decidedly colder and we walked right into the beginning of a dust storm. Sunita was feeling nauseous . Since she had never taken Gravol, I told her to start with half of one pill and within a very short time, she was drowsy and laying down in the tent. I think it's the altitude but I can't say for sure. She hardly ate any dinner, feeling that she was going to vomit if she ate anything. She is not looking very good right now.

We had an early dinner which I helped Chinga cook. What did I cook? I made bigan choka (if you are Guyanese, you know this means roasted eggplant) and breaded some tofu which I put into a vegetarian pasta sauce. Everyone was happy with dinner. The dust storm was getting worse and Mawenzi was getting colder by the minute. It was not very comfortable and it was a relief to get into my tent. I was not confident that Sunita was going to be okay so I asked Ellie for a box of juice to keep in the tent in case she needed something to eat or drink.

As the dust storm raged outside, Sunita spent a good part of the night being sick. I got up and gave her a barf bag (thanks to all the Sobeys grocery bags I took), some juice with another half of a Gravol which she promptly threw up. She looked like when was was a little girl being sick and I felt terrible that I could not do more except provide wet wipes and tissue to clean up with. I am having a hard time breathing but I think it's from all the dust that is coming into the tent. I feel it on my hair and on my skin. It's going to be a long and restless night.

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