Friday, September 27, 2013

Tanzania: Learning to tie my laces; malaria meds; water purification

I belong to the About Walking listserve and there was a great article on how to tie my laces to prevent heel slippage. I have a narrow heel and small ankles but a wider foot at the front so since I will be doing 40km of downhill walking on the trek, it would be a good idea for me to start using a lace tying technique which will prevent my toes from hitting the front of my boots on the descent.
I took my malaria meds last night for the first time and I had a good night's sleep; that's a good thing. I also tried the water purification tablets (minus the neutralizer because the package I have did not include one [I obviously picked up a package with a missing bottle). The water had an aftertaste but it was not really unpleasant. I'm not sure if I'd feel the same way after drinking 3 litres of it for 6-7 days. This morning I had another 8-oz. glass with 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar (because I drink this every morning) and there was virtually no aftertaste. I will get another package with the neutralizing tablets but I think I'll be fine.
It's now afternoon and I have a headache. It could be that I had a few long days this week with less than restful sleep for a couple nights. It could also be the malaria meds that can cause headaches. It could be that may body is adjusting to the purified water. It could be that I only had a salad at lunch and I may be hungry. Or it could be that it's just a headache not attributable to any of those reasons. Only thing is, I haven't had a headache for a few years.
I have my last evening hike for the season tonight with the +Prairie Pathfinders and then there is a wiener roast and bonfire. It's supposed to rain but with any luck, it'll start after the event. Maybe the event will make my headache go away. I must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed every hike I've been on with the group and intend to do many more next year. I loved discovering trails in Winnipeg and Manitoba.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tanzania: Starting my malaria meds today

I start my malaria meds tonight - two weeks prior to the day I arrive in a malaria zone. I was offered 3 choices: one that I need to take starting two days prior to my trip, each day for the duration and 28 days after. I chose  mefloquine which is taken once a week starting two weeks prior to my trip, once a week for the duration of my trip and once a week for 4 weeks after my arrival home. So that's 9 pills starting tonight versus 48 pills for the other med. The reason for this is that I did not want to still be taking these meds while I am in China - which will be 3 weeks after the completion of this trip.
I have to say that after I had to prescription filled and read the side effects, I wondered if I should not have risked the malaria because taking the meds doesn't mean that I will not get malaria. This is a precaution but I am also going to be careful to cover up from dusk to dawn in the malaria zone of Zanzibar. I won't have to worry too much on the Kili climb portion.
Some of the side effects of +mefloquine are:
  • stomach upset, stomach pain, nausea and/or vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fever, hair loss, ringing in the ear (which could be permanent)
  • dizziness, drowsiness, loss of balance or coordination, headache, insomnia, strange dreams, light-headness (which could also all be symptoms of moderate or advanced Acute Mountain Sickness)
  • feeling like you are spinning  and/or loss of balance
Fortunately if I start it today and find that the symptoms persist for a few days, I can stop taking it and get a different prescription. I can't be 100% certain but it seems to me that this was the same one I took when I went to Botswana a few years ago with no issues.
I'll have to report on how I do tonight with the first dose. Wish me luck.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Tanzania: 2 weeks & 2 days to departure; very long packing list

The countdown is on and the packing list is growing ever longer. We are packing for an 8-day climb, a 4 day safari and a 4 day beach holiday. Fortunately, we can leave the things we only need for the safari and Zanzibar at a storage facility (likely the hotel) until we return from the climb. The challenge will be to keep our weight for the climb to a maximum of 15 kg. (33 pounds). There is no place to buy anything that we forget so we have to be strategic in how we pack.
Sunita and I will be sharing a 3-person tent (enough space for our luggage and sleeping bags) so we'll likely try not to duplicate things. So here is the list so far and I've also included some links to gear that I have used.  

Day pack (use labelled Ziploc bags to separate items into categories)
  • Rainwear / cold weather wear
  • Camera and spare battery (in Ziploc bag)
  • Passport, immunization papers, insurance, tickets, money, itinerary with emergency #s, Health Care Directive (in a Ziploc bag)
  • Money for tipping (in separate Ziploc bag stored in passport Ziploc)
  • Face sunscreen (high SPF), lip balm, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, water purification tablets, insect repellant (in Ziploc bag), anti-itch cream, toilet paper, face tissue, quick dry face cloth 
  • Snacks - light weight, high calorie high energy e.g. dried fruit, granola, candies (not chocolate)(in Ziploc bag)
  • Prescription meds in original containers (malaria, Cipro, Diamox), vitamin C, Gravol, laxative, anti-diarrhoeal (Pepto-Bismol), Benadryl, aspirin, Advil, water purification tabs (in labelled Ziploc bag)
  • Medical first aid kit w. antiseptic wipes, iodine swabs, Band-Aids, polysporin, crazy glue
  • Maps, pencil, notebook (in Ziploc bag)
  • Sun hat, sunglasses, binoculars, whistle (optional)
  • Walking poles
  • Watch with alarm

Clothing (use labelled plastic bags; store in a large garbage bag to keep DRY)
Technical clothing
Outer Layer - +Columbia Waterproof jacket (for any/all days
Outer Layer - Waterproof pants (breathable if possible) for any/all days
Mid Layer-1 pair ski pants for summit night (1:00am of day 7)
Mid Layer - 1 (+Sherpa) down coat (750 fill if possible) for days 5-7 
Mid Layer - 1 moisture wicking, windproof, +Running Room breathable jacket for Days 2-
Mid Layer - 1 pair +Running Room wind pants
Mid Layer - 1 pair fleece pants for day 6 & 7
Mid Layer - 2 +Merrell's convertible hiking pants for days 1-5, 8
Base layer - 1 moisture-wicking long underwear top and bottom for days 5-7 including summit night
Base layer - 2 +Running Room long sleeve shirt - moisture wicking for days 2-7
Base layer - 1 +Running Room short sleeve moisture wicking shirt (light weight)
Base layer - 3 sports bra (moisture wicking like +Exofficio)  
Base layer - 6-10 pairs underwear (moisture wicking like +ExOfficio)
Sleeping clothing and gear
1 long underwear top and bottom (only for sleeping)
4-season sleeping bag (we can rent for $35)
Sleeping bag liner (for hygiene and extra warmth)
Sleeping mattress / mat
1 pee bottle (if you don't have a private toilet)
Travel pillow, eye mask
Bandana or sunhat
Warm hat or balaclava
Good comfortable hiking boots with spare laces
Runners/sandals ( for evenings) 
3 pairs of medium weight socks (wool or synthetic)
2 pairs of thick socks (wool, synthetic)
Hand wear
Light gloves, warm gloves 
Waterproof duffel bag to hold max. 30 lbs)
Various size plastic bags to keep gear dry and separate
Head Torch and hand torch with extra batteries 
Comb, brush, toothbrush, toothpaste
Biodegradable shampoo/body wash, baby wipes (200+), unscented lotion
Microfibre bath and face towels
Toilet paper, panty liners, duct tape
First aid kit (Tiger Balm, foot cream, lip balm, cough drops, Cold & Flu meds, Oil of oregano, gum, 
Safety pins, tweezers, nail clippers, duct tape, small mirror, Swiss army knife
Ear plugs, dust mask
6 set of hand warmer packs (good for at least 10 hours) 
Electronics (iPod, MP3), batteries, chargers, adapters, converters
Music, reading material, playing cards
4-6 large garbage bags, small garbage bags
Safari & Zanzibar (modest clothes for Muslim country; avoid anything sleeveless and short)
Pants, capris, longer skirts 
Light weight long sleeve shirt to wear over t-shirt, T-shirts, shirts
Beachwear & sarong
Light sweater/shawl (for evenings)

So what is all this costing? Hard to say because I had some things already. Others I had to buy. If you don't have some of these things, they can be rented at Kili at a nominal cost of about $200-300.