KILIMANJARO DAY 2: I am strong, I am bold

Coffee in bed

Every morning the rustling began around 5:00am. The kitchen crew began preparations for breakfast and morning coffee, which was served right to the tent. Innocent, a soft spoken gentleman whose soul poured light in every direction, was the main waiter. He would deliver all food items from the kitchen tent, where our food engineer and team prepared everything, to the community food tent. We gathered in this tent mostly for breakfast before the trekking embarked for the day as well as in the evenings after our climbing was complete.

BUT THE COFFEE, served in the tent at 6:30am….WOW! A camping luxury which warmed the body and nurtured the soul with pure delight everyday. It never got old. And the ritual only grew with fondness morning after morning. The gentle warm voice of Innocent, combined with super tasty steaming Africafe instant coffee, while still nestled into my sleeping bag, a relished moment of gratitude and peace before the long day of trekking.

Pack up and go

While our team of seven climbers ate in the mess tent, the crew of porters and guides disassembled tents, packed up the portable toilet, and repacked everything from the grounds back into large duffle style bags. By the time we emerged from breakfast, the crew had almost everything ready for the journey to the next camp. The were effeicient and organized in every aspect!

Mti Mkubwa to Shira

Once we finished our preparations for the day: sunscreen, water fill up, gators for the dust and rocks, we followed our assistant guide, Francis, onto the trail. For the first few hours the path continued through the rainforest. Giant trees gathered tightly together, lush ferns and exotic flowers peeking out sporadically as we made our way up the winding trail. Again, the trail was gentle at first, allowing our bodies to acclimate with ease to the continuous movement.

The trail led us out of the rainforest and into a dry area of tall grasses, heather and volcanic rock covered with fungi of all shades of green, called lichen beards. A drastic change from the abundant green and shaded protection of the rainforest canopy. Though still surrounded by tall bushes and unique flora, we began to feel the power of the sun as we continued upwards onto the Shira ridge. The steady slow pace still brought a great challenge as the incline increased and dust began to raise in volume. Hours of heavy breathing brought sweat and dirt filled faces, along with phenomenal views of the rainforest below, and the high altitude dessert ridges above.

I am strong, I am bold. I am strong, I am bold. I am strong, I am bold. Continuous mental work was required once we left the rainforest. Affirmations were repeated over and over. Breathing was a challenge, especially when the pace felt too quick for the struggling body. Constant effort was required to push the negative thoughts aside. A steady vigilance to return to the positive mind. Return to the dream, return to all the hard work that had come before, and truly trust my body. We moved forward, one step at a time, reversing the negative thoughts with positivity propelling efforts forward.

After 5 miles of steep climbing over many ridges, we descended down into Shira camp for the night. The clouds covered what would have been our first view of the summit, the wind blew dirt and dust in every direction. There were a few attempts to sit outside the tents, enjoying the scenery of the vast openness sprinkled with dense clouds, but the chill and flying dirt particles kept everyone hunkered inside the safety of the marmot abodes.

Evening routine

It was short rest inside the tents, changing all necessary sweaty clothing items and delivering a round of Paulo Santo to the fam, when we got the call for tea. 5pm evening routine…… coffee, tea, and drinking chocolate partnered with popcorn and peanuts, and conversation with our fellow hikers. Our group totaled seven climbers. A witty and lively father and son duo from South Africa, the honeymooning couple from near Boston area, and our three pack from Wyoming. Each meal, we would congregate and share stories of home, laugh and vent about the effects of the climbing and tent life, and share admiration for our team of porters and guides that worked so diligently to ensure safety, provide comfort and deliver excellent service. Directly following the tea time, the soup, and then dinner was served.

Carb and hydration loaded, bodies tired, and hearts full, we retreaded to our sleeping quarters. Day 2 of the climb took us from the rainforest to a cold vast high altitude plateau, challenging the body and mind, while providing huge rewards……..another successful day towards the goal of reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro! Rest was gladly welcomed as we nuzzled deeply into our sleeping bags and shut down the headlamps.

Midnight pee break

OMG, the midnight pee breaks!!! Though annoying, they always gave a different perspective of the landscape and region. On this particular night the stars were absolutely RADIANT! The headlamp search, zipper struggle, shock of the ice cold air, heavy breathing, and racing to the bathroom…..totally worth it for the magnificent display of the vast galaxy’s above!!!

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