I didn’t sleep much at all last night. Next time, I should nap in the afternoon. Not napping didn’t seem to improve my sleep at all.
We lost Kevin this morning. He is heading back down. He wasn’t dealing very well at all with the altitude.
I hate being damp—cold and damp. We’re in our next camp now (Barranco camp, 13,000 feet).
When I left the tent this morning, I was wearing my down jacket. When I left the breakfast tent (the “space station”) I was wearing only a long-sleeved tee. We had a slow grind up a steady slope. There were clouds below us, but a sunny sky and the mountain above. But the clouds gathered above, and the lower ones rose. Eventually, I put on my fleece shirt, and then my Gor-Tex rain shell.
We made good time up, and maybe around 12:30 we stopped for a hot lunch in the space station.
The rain sort of came in during lunch, and we put on our
rain pants. It drizzled off and on for the rest of the day. I guess it beats a
steady rain, though. I developed a bit of a headache, and although I took two
ibuprofen at lunch, the headache has hung around more or less since. I was
hiking fine, and I felt better than I did on Mt. Rainier. I guess this
acclimatization stuff works.
The trail continues up to the lava tower. I was expecting the lava tower to be something very cylindrical and narrow, but it looks to me more like an irregular four-story rock sticking up. This set a new height record for all of us, a bit more than 15,000 feet (Mt. Rainier is only 14,000 and some change). Then we got to the hard part—going down the other side.
For going up, we were all together, but I think I was hiking
stronger than some. Going down, I’m not the slowest, but probably 75-80% of the
way back. I’m really paranoid about my knees and wanted to take the downhills
slowly and carefully.
This trail started out fairly steep, and then it varied between steep and mellow. A number of times, we had to cross chocolate-colored streams of glacier melt water. In many ways, I find this harder than slogging uphill.
We got more spaced out, with the front people going down quickly and some of us going down more slowly. For rather a while, I was walking by myself, as I could not see anyone (in the fog/cloud) ahead of me or behind me.
We came down in the valley of the Silesia, a local plant, but it would have been much more picturesque if it hadn’t been foggy and drizzly. One saving grace is that when we reached camp (much more crowded than our earlier camps) the tents were set up already, so we didn’t have to muck around with setting them up in the rain ourselves.
Now we have about a half hour before dinner. This was the first serious down that we’ve had. I think that we went down about 2000 feet. My knees are not the happiest with me right now, but they seem to have survived mostly intact. I wore my knee supports, but I think that their help is mostly in my mind. At least they help keep my knees warm. We are now entering my most unpleasant part of the day—hanging out in the camp, in the wet, as it gets colder and colder.
I have been taking the Malarone and Diamox in the evenings, but today I started taking the Malarone in the morning, and Diamox a bit earlier (~4:30). I’m hoping that this will help me sleep better tonight. It would be really good to get a reasonable night’s sleep, never mind a good one. Lying in bed, unable to sleep when you are rather tired is incredibly frustrating.
Two of our party, Kerstin and Wanda, were in rather sad shape coming down the valley. They were rather like zombies. They crashed in their tent when we got to camp, and they couldn’t come out for dinner. Our guide brought them some food and fluids. I guess the altitude is getting to them. They are trying some aggressive medication to see if that helps.