Wednesday, Oct 18 (Kilimanjaro—Shira 1 to Shira 2)

I lost my pen last night. I had to borrow John’s in order to write this. The clouds cleared up last night during dinner. There were a bajillion stars out, but I was in no mood to enjoy them. With the radiational cooling, it got cold—below freezing. We had frost on the ground and ice on the tent when we woke up.

I am not impressed with my sleeping bag, which I bought just for this trip. I was cold, even with my fleece shirt and hat on. I was feeling very cold and miserable for the beginning of the night. I eventually pulled my down jacket in as a blanket, and then after a while I could sleep. This does not bode well for when it gets really cold.

I felt really discouraged last night. I hate being cold, and not being able to sleep just makes it worse. We had a large dinner last night—soup, pasta and meat sauce, and pop-corn. There was a salad, but I couldn’t eat more.

I went to the toilet just before going to bed (right after dinner). This was after drinking large quantities of tea (herbal), so I knew that even without the Diamox, I would be in trouble during the night. I had to go again fairly shortly, and again a bit later, but that was it. The pee bottle worked well, but I was afraid that it might overflow.

I had a really bad attitude last night—counting the nights as something to be endured. I hope that this improves.

It is bright and sunny out now, and we can see Kibo peak (Kilimanjaro is formed by three merged volcanoes. The main peak is called Kibo). It is straight east of us, so I can’t photograph it—it is semi-silhouetted.

In the mornings, porters bring us tea in our tents, although it is really that they bring some mugs, some tea bags and sugar, and some hot water (which sort of makes sense, as different people like different things). I thought that this would be a nice way to get up, but the reality wasn’t quite what I expected. For one, I was already up and halfway packed for the day. Secondly, I am afraid to leave the mug inside the tent for fear it will spill and get my stuff wet. So I could really take or leave this perk.

Every morning before breakfast, we have to pack up our stuff into our day pack and duffle. Then, while we are eating breakfast, the porters break camp and head off to set up the tents at the next camp.

I have zero appetite. At dinner and again at breakfast, I really had to force the food down. I didn’t feel nausea, but I also had no desire to eat. It was a real chore to get the food down.

Loss of appetite is one possible consequence of being at altitude. Of course, everyone reacts differently, and not everyone (at least at this altitude) experiences a loss of appetite, but that seemed to be one of the primary symptoms that I had.

I left my sun hat down at the lodge with my safari stuff. I don’t know what I was thinking.


We’re now at Shira-2 (12,600 feet). We lost the sun halfway through the hike. Now we are in the clouds, which means no view and a light rain is falling. It was mixed hiking. In the sun and with no wind, I was warm. If the sun went behind the clouds and/or a wind came up, I was cold. I ended up hiking with a long-sleeved tee and my heavier fleece shirt. I’m a bit winded, but nothing unexpected. The trail was mostly flat to a slight uphill (with localized ups and downs).

I seem to have things rather backward. I am rather up-beat on the hiking (at least when it is sunny and not wet), but I have problems sleeping and eating.

When we got to camp, I did a potty break, and there were a few big black birds (goose-sized) with white bands around their necks. Of course, when I went back and got my camera, I couldn’t find them. We heard some interesting bird-song on the way up here, but I won’t even attempt to describe it.

We hike as a group, but sometimes we get strung out. There are few stops, although we did stop at a strange tall plant (Saninia?) When the leaves die, they lay back on the trunk for insulation.

I had a bit more appetite at lunch, but that isn’t saying much. It is still drizzly and cold outside of the tents. We might do a short hike to move around, but that will probably be canceled due to weather and lack of interest. There wasn’t a lot of motivation for the optional hike.

Some people are napping this afternoon, but I’m afraid that if I do so, I won’t sleep tonight.

It is not so much the cold as it is the cold and damp. It just seeps into your bones. We had all afternoon open, which wasn’t much fun with the cold damp. I semi-dozed a bit, but I was just killing time. I read a little bit, but my heart wasn’t into it.

I have this irrational feeling or fear that I will never be warm again.

We have two portable toilets, but they are a mixed blessing. It’s a four-sided box, with a toilet inside. The roof is flat (i.e. sagging) with a hole in the middle. This results in a small waterfall down the center. In the previous camp (Shira-1), the toilet was in the center, which resulted in the water coming down on your head. For this camp, someone got smart and moved it off to the side. Still, there was a steady stream of water just about two inches in front of my pants.

The permanent toilets at the camps are built like a capital-G. You go in and around a central partition, and then there is the main space with a hole in it, and some really *interesting* smells. I’m glad that I’m not squatting over them.

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