We were excited and nervous about our 7 day trek to climb Mt. Kiliminjaro. From the town of Moshi, which is right next to Kili, you could see the top and it looked like a very, very long way up there-19,340 feet to be exact. The hiking crew would consist of Christy, me and another hiker from California named Kush that we had not met, but who turned out to be a really cool and fun guy. Along with the 3 of us we would have 2 guides, a cook, a waiter and 8 porters to carry everything-our packs with all our gear, food for everyone, right down to the napkins. We on the other hand would only have to carry a daypack containing our rain gear and our ready-made lunch. We would spend 7 days on the mountain, summiting on the 6th night. Six days up, and one hellish day down.
Our first 5 days were spenth hiking all day and trying to stay warm and dry at night. Unfortunately for us, we didnt get the best weather, in fact it was down right crappy weather. We would rise every morning with blue skies and cold temps. By 11 am the clouds would roll in and then it would rain for about 4 hours which happened to be exactly when we were hiking. I’ve never loved a warm sleeping bag more than on this trip. Luckily, the porters were amazing. they would prepare all the meals for us, set up camp and take everything down. Our only job was to hike, sleep and eat.
It was pretty hilarous to see the three of us. We were all decked out in our fancy hiking gear with our treking poles and hiking boots, yet we were being passed up the mountain by the porters who wore flip-flop sandles and carried about 40 pounds of our baggage on top of their head. Even the altitude at 15,000 ft didnt faze them. One image that is burned into my head is sitting on a rock resting at 15,000 ft, eating some food as the snow was falling and watching a porter come flying past with sandles and shorts on. He cheerfully wished us hello as we shivered over our fried chicken…Really makes you feel like a wimp.
After 5 days of hiking we camped at 14,000 feet and would make our summit attempt during the middle of the night so that we could arrive at the summit at sunrise when the weather is supposed to be best. So at 11:00 pm, our guide woke us up and told us to start getting ready, it was time to head out. It was tough to get motivated knowing you had to climb 5,000 vertical feet in the pitch dark with only a tiny head lamp. And to top it off, it was snowing. We headed up the mountain and after 3 hours, Kush our other hiker decided he had enough and headed back to camp. I think he was the smarter one of the group. Anyway, the guide, Christy and I trudged on up only able to see what our little head lamps would illuminate in front of us. I was in the back and pretty much just stared at christys shoes in front of me hour after hour one step at a time. Christy was one hell of a trooper and didn’t complain until we got to about 17,500 ft. It was 5am, freezing cold and snowing sideways, which blasted us right in the face. We would take a few steps and then stop lean on our treking poles and try to suck in the little oxygen that was out there at such a high altitude. At about 6am, Christy and I were exhausted leaning against our poles when she turned over to me, looked me straight in the eye through all her layers of clothes and said “THIS IS THE DUMBEST THING WE HAVE EVER DONE.” Now that’s saying quite a lot because we have done some dumb things in the past so I was worried that a mutiny might be taking place. We were only about an hour from the top and I knew I had to tread softly in order to get her to the top and not have a really pissed off wife. So after we caught our breath and warmed up little, she was ready to finish the hike and we continued on our way to the top. A few steps and then a little rest. It took us a good hour to go the final 200 yards. At about 7am we finally made it to the top so that we could see the amazing view from 3 miles high. A view that would make all the pain and suffering worth it. Well, as luck would have it, the mountain was socked in by the storm and we couldn’t see a damn thing except fog and snow. But, we were happy none the less for making it. So after a quick hug, a couple of pictures we were off back down the mountain where we had to go all the way down from 19,000 ft. to 9,000 ft. to the last camp site. We were exhausted. It was an incredibly long day and we slept for 13 hours that night. The trip was one that we will never forget, one for being so tough and two for the beauty of the mountain. We went through 5 different climate zones in 6 days. Starting in a rain forest and ending on a glacier, something you don’t get to do everyday. The shower at the hotel that night was also one of the finest moments after going 7 days with nothing more than washing your hands and face and basically wearing the same clothes. We would have one night at the hotel to rest before heading out on the safari for another week of camping.