Friday, Oct 20 (Kilimanjaro—Barranco to Karanga)

Last night was the first time that I (and John for that matter) slept relatively normally—at least as normally as one sleeps when camping. On the down side, my bowels are not happy. I had to get up in the middle of the night to poop. I had a small accident this morning, so I took an imodium. I hope that helps.

I feel really hungry, but I still have to force myself to eat.

We hiked down a valley yesterday.

This morning we have to climb the wall out of the valley. From here the wall (the “Barranco Wall” ) looks steep to sheer. We wonder and discuss amongst ourselves where the trail goes. There are clouds above so we will probably get little or no sun. That’s a bummer. I’m getting real tired of cold and damp.

On the plus side, even though we are at 13,000 feet, at least when I am not hiking, the air seems very normal, like we’re at sea level.


It was actually sunny when we got to the next camp. I don’t know what to make of it, as this is the first time that this has happened.

The wall was fun, although I’m sure some of my companions did not think so. It was very steep but not sheer. I thought it rather fun. We went at a very slow pace—it was like a parade—a continuous flow of people with occasional choke points that really slowed things down.

For the entire hike, the porters would move much faster than any of us clients. So we would get over to the side and let them pass. This also helped slow us down on the wall. Our guide said that if we were just going up the wall by ourselves, it might take 15 minutes, but with the traffic and such, we would probably spend about two hours going up. This seems about right.

At the base, John was taking some pictures, when he noticed that his lens cap was missing. We looked around that part of the trail, but we couldn’t find it. John was not sure if he had dropped it there, or if perhaps it had fallen out at an earlier picture spot. We couldn’t spend all day looking, so eventually I continued up. It turns out that one of our African guides, Frank, and our US guide, Jorge, went back to an earlier point to look for it. Frank found the cap and brought it back for John. I was rather impressed.

I didn’t trust the weather, so I wore my rain pants going up the wall. This caused me to be too hot. We had a rest stop, so I took them off, but we ended up only being about ten minutes from the top. At the top, the rain came in, so I had to hurry to put them back on.

On the wall, I met two Polish climbers—I’m guessing one was a guide and one a client, so I got a chance to practice the few words of Polish that I still remember.

After the wall, there were a series of ups and downs going across valleys. The weather was quite frustrating. The sun would come out and we would be hot. Then it would rain. Repeat. At the end, there is a deep valley and a steep trail downward and up the other side to the next camp (still around 13,000 feet).

I had more of an appetite at lunch. There was a wonderful cucumber salad. I ate a bunch of it. I hope it doesn’t screw up my digestion.

We have a hand washing station outside the space station before each meal. It consists of a number of basins of warm water and a couple of bars of soap. Initially, people would wash in the bowls, which quickly made the water unsuitable for rinsing. Then we learned the technique of dipping hands in the water and then rubbing them off to the side, so that the soapy water didn’t end up back in the basin. It makes a bit of a mess on the ground, but so what?


It is now after lunch (we had lunch at our camp). It has again clouded over with occasional mistings. Tonight is the last real night before the summit. Tomorrow, we climb to high camp, crash early, and then get up at 11:30. We’ll have tea and crackers, and then we’re off to the summit.

When I was planning this trip, I figured that if I didn’t summit, the hike itself would be fun and scenic. It isn’t turning out that way. I think it would be under a clear sky, but with the clouds/fog and mist, I’m finding this more something to be endured. That raises the obvious question of why am I enduring it? The obvious answer is to reach the summit. Of course, that leads to the feeling or thought that if I don’t summit, is the trip a waste or a failure?


It is now 5:30pm. I’m sitting in the space station reading my book. I’m really glad that I’m here and not in my tent. It is raining hard outside. It started after I arrived at the space station. I would not relish the thought of coming here for dinner in this rain. I hope it ends before we have to leave. I really hope that I don’t need a bathroom break any time soon.

I read one trip report before coming out here that was titled “Every step a little closer.” My thought now is, “not really”. We’ve spent a number of days hiking, and in a sense we are not much closer than when we started. We’ve just been acclimatizing. It is only starting about here that every step will be taking us closer to the summit.

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