• Alma Lopez-Tilghman

Kilimanjaro Day 2

The clouds are insanely beautiful!

I wake up from a night of tossing and turning and make my way to the bathroom, otherwise known as a tiny cold closet with a dark drop down hole swarming with tiny flies and some kind of other bugs I don’t want to look at. The odor is pungent, as there is very little ventilation. I take one hand to plug my nose and with my other hand, I take my mini Lysol can and spray the crap out of it (no pun intended). For some reason, I can’t seem to aim into the hole. There is an art to squatting that takes time to master, I learned. Relieved to be out of there, I go outside and am rewarded with a beautiful sky with all kinds of pinks, blues, orange, and whites. It looked like one of those tie dye Grateful Dead t-shirts designed in the 60’s. I notice I’m literally above the clouds. I hear a chorus of chirping birds. Chirping birds are my favorite sound. Back at my tent, my washy washy bowl arrives and I proceed to washy washy. Winnie brings over some tea and biscuits. We are now called for breakfast consisting of veggie omelets, oatmeal, fruit, and crepes.

Breakfast - Veggie omelette

After breakfast, we continue on the morning hike which is a steady ascent up to the Second Cave Camp. This camp is located in the moorland zone with breathtaking views of Kibo, one of the 3 volcanic cones that make up Kilimanjaro. Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano with 3 volcanic cones, “Kibo”, “Mawenzi”, and “Shira”. While Mawenzi and Shira are extinct, Kibo is dormant and could erupt again, lucky for me, it didn’t. Uhuru Peak is the highest summit on the crater rim of Mt. Kilmanjaro (19, 341 ft) and where everyone aims to get to. We walk for about 4-5 hours at a speed of about 1 mile per hour. “Pole, pole” becomes the phrase of the week along with “unpredictable”, translation “slowly, slowly” in Swahili, Tanzania's official language. You will hear your guide say “pole, pole” every five seconds. The trick to this hike is taking it slow so that you can get used to the altitude. As the altitude is the main reason why so many don’t make it.

AMS, otherwise known as acute mountain sickness, can be deadly. It normally occurs at about 5,000 feet, above sea level. Dizziness, nausea, headaches, and shortness of breath are just few of the fun symptoms. This happens because you are now breathing with much less oxygen than what you would be breathing at sea level. On the summit of Kilimanjaro, there is only about half the oxygen found at sea level. Fortunately, I experienced practically zero AMS.

We arrive at Second Cave Camp and now at 11,417 feet. Ready for late lunch and a long nap.

Winnie, our only female porter.

Uhuru Peak in the background

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