For me, there’s a pecking order here on the Mountain. Pat Falvey is ‘God’, Freddie the head guide is the Chief, and Able our leader and pacer is my guardian angel. He’s going at a steady, medium, pace and I love him for it.
I underestimated the cold of the first two days and today, thinking of how high we would be going, I underestimated the heat! I spent an hour trudging uphill under an African sun, in a fleece lined trail pants. It was like doing cross-fit in a Bikram hot yoga class, but it was my own stupidity and all I could do was slog away until our first water break. An hour later Kilimanjaro was subjected to my pink-nickered butt as I struggled out of boots and pants and dragged on my waterproof trousers. At least they had zips in the side and I could roll up my pant legs.
After that the day rolled out as planned. A steady upward shuffle through volcanic dust and gravel.
We realised our guides were getting the balance right. We passed many sick and tiring Trekkers who had bounced out of the starting gate two days earlier and zoomed on ahead, before falling to sit on rocks with faces like chalk.
We have a great team. Great individuals, great personalities and great reasons for being here. They ran games as we pushed up the incline. Names beginning or ending with a certain letter or names for all the cities in a continent. I loved hearing the chatter but I didn’t join in. My mind was set on its own mantra; breath, walk well, push, don’t give up.
The mantra, the friendliness of our group and the expertise of Pat and his African Adventure team paid off. It was a hard day but we made it to Lava rocks at the high altitude of 4,640m and apart from minor headaches and the odd feeling of nausea, the whole team are still healthy and strong.
We had lunch in a mess tent at Lava Rocks, brought up in advance by the porters. There was a suggestion that Pat make a fortune by setting up a hotel at Lava Rocks and call it Lava Towers. After our high ‘acclimatisation’ lunch, we belted down hill in less than 2 hours to make camp for the night in the shadow of the famous Baranco wall.
Tomorrow we will climb it.