I hardly slept at all last night; it was more like dozing. I took an ambien, but it didn’t seem to help. I had lots of mini-dreams of lying in bed trying to sleep, so it is hard to say whether I was asleep or not. I got some good sleep/dreams at the very end, maybe around 6am. My alarm was set for 6:30.
When we got up, there was no water—either in the shower or in the sink. Great… So no shower or toilet this morning—there was only one flush available. I’m sweaty from sleeping under the comforters. So we stink even before we start the hike.
I again have the feeling that I’m on a freight train, moving at high speed, and I can’t stop it or slow it down.
We’re at the main gate to Kilimanjaro National Park now. We’re going in via the Lemosho route, so our gate is on the NW side of the park. So much has already happened that it is hard to remember it all.
Driving down the main road out of Arusha, there were lots of people on the side of the road, with not a few women carrying large baskets or pots on their heads like it was nothing. There were speed humps across the road. I thought it strange to put these on a major road, but it was quite populated. I guess this isn’t surprising as this was probably one of the few paved roads around.
We turned north, but the mountain was in the clouds, so we couldn’t see any of it. There were a lot of goats and cattle around.
Eventually, the paving ended, and the road turned to dirt or in our case, mud. There were a number of puddles completely across the road, through which we waded up to our hub caps. We had to stop twice because one of our group’s Land Cruisers wouldn’t run. It seemed to be some sort of fuel problem. There were farms and villages all the way, with a large village at the main gate. I guess this is where many of the porters come from.
At one point, we stopped by some elephant dung and a footprint, but we didn’t see any wildlife.
They are now weighing all of the porters’ loads to make sure they are not too heavy. It has been dry since breakfast, although we’re having a few sprinkles now. It is pretty cool—I hope that I brought enough warm clothes. I figured that it would be hot by the equator.
With the mud from the rain, stopped vehicles, and car trouble, we’re getting a late start. The toilets here at the gate are of the squat-over-a-hole type. This is my first time using one. I am not impressed.
We had a fairly short day. We had lunch at the trail head, and then finally left around 3:25. We got to our first camp (Shira-1) about 5:30. We started about at the cloud line. The ground was rocks and mud, with small scrub. We had occasional light drizzle. It was mostly flat (the Shira plateau). Surprisingly, halfway through, there was a steep walled canyon with a creek in the bottom, through which we had to go down and up. Going up tended to wind you. I guess we’re about 10,000 feet or so. It is rather cold. This doesn’t bode well. I wish that they had told us of the expected temperatures before we left home.
Camp consists of a number of two person tents for the clients, a one-person tent for the Costa Rican guide (Jorge), and a large tent (the “space station”) where we have our meals. There was another tent where they cooked our meals and boiled the drinking water. I’m not sure where the porters slept, although I’m guessing that most if not all ended up in the space station and cook tent. We actually have a long table and chairs for our meals.