• Alma Lopez-Tilghman

Kilimanjaro Day 3

Waking up to day 3, last night was not too bad. I actually slept. I wore tons of layers and wasn’t so cold. Also, I asked Winnie for some hot water which I poured into my drinking bottle and placed near my feet inside my sleeping bag to keep my feet toasty, a tip I picked up from another traveler. Other travelers have the best tips! I tried not to drink too much tea after 6pm so that I would not have to pee during the night and it seemed to work. Leaving the pine forest behind us, we carried on a steady ascent walking through more moorland.

Mornings above the clouds.

The views on this walk are so amazing! I don’t know how many times I’ve said amazing but get used to it, as you will hear it again, and again. I can see the Eastern ice fields on the crater rim of Kibo, the highest of the three volcanoes which form the mountain. I stop and take more pictures. I can’t stress how important it is for you to stop and appreciate all of this awesomeness. So many of the hikers were just focused on getting to the summit, walking like this was a race. Yes, I wanted to get to the summit too, but I didn’t travel for 26 hours to speed walk through some of the most gorgeous terrain ever. The world is a big beautiful place, enjoy the journey, you might never see anything like this again! I felt so blessed to be here and again, there were more episodes of me just walking with tears flowing down my face. The only other time I’ve felt this overwhelming wave of emotion, was when my husband and I walked into Fushimi-Inari temple in Kyoto, Japan. I kept my sunglasses on because I didn’t want my guide to see I was crying. All I needed to complete this picture was John Williams’ masterpiece theme score from the movie ET: The Extra-Terrestrial playing in the background. The feelings were that of sheer wonder, curiosity, a little bit of nervousness for what lied ahead, and gratitude as large as the clouds that draped the Tanzanian sky. I was very aware of staying in the present and thanking my higher power for the place I was standing in. In fact, something I haven’t shared is that to keep my mind from wondering all over the place, and help me stay in a place of gratitude and in the present, I sang a few chants that I learned at my meditation temple through most of my walk, at times in my head, at times whispering. I felt like it was just me and God on this walk.

Mawenzi Peak on the left.

Nearby, the jagged peaks of Mawenzi peak, the second of Kilimanjaro’s volcanoes stood out like the Matterhorn Mountain at Disneyland. This was the pretties of all 3 peaks.

We arrive at our 3rd camp in a sheltered valley near what are known as the Kikelewa caves at 11,910 feet elevation. The wind is picking up, the skies are gray and the rain is on its way.

After dinner, the main guide, Lawrence, checks my lungs and blood pressure. I’m doing great, he says. No fluid is detected in my lungs, one of the symptoms of AMS. The only thing I was suffering from was a bit of diarrhea, but I had read that this too was common. However, Lawrence told me that if it continued for more than 48 hours, it was dangerous to summit. Therefore, I immediately took some Imodium tablets and the issue was resolved. Always travel with some Imodium in your bag.

The sounds of the trickling rain and the hissing winds put me to sleep. Although, there was the occasional tossing and turning that had now become a regular part of the night’s activities, it was all good. Call me a masochist, but I believe learning to sometimes be uncomfortable is a part of learning to adapt. In order to experience personal growth, we must embrace change and that requires adaptation, which is often uncomfortable. Whatever discomfort or pain I experienced on this journey, I knew was only temporary, but the feeling of my achievement would be forever.

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