Our first night in the tents, was a good guide for how the rest of the week was going to go! I woke up at around 1:45am to pee. I had brought a pee bottle with me so that I didn’t have to leave the tent in the middle of the night in the pitch black freezing cold. I won’t go into the details, but it involved kneeling down and worrying that I was going to overflow and spill onto my sleeping bag. I’m happy to confirm that didn’t happen on any occasion, but the worry was always there!
I then couldn’t sleep for a couple of hours thinking about how I got here: peeing in a bottle in the middle of the night on the side of a mountain in Africa.
I woke just before the alarm which was set for 6am. Now that we can actually see inside the tent we found lots of little pockets to put things in which would have been really handy last night!
Lucretia in our tent
I had bought a sleeping liner with me, I had read somewhere it was good to have, but in reality, the leggings I was wearing at night kept sticking to it like Velcro and I felt like I couldn’t move my legs. So that was the first thing to never come out of its pouch again (once I finally got it in the pouch thanks to Justin for his help). Putting the sleeping bag in its pouch was equally as difficult. I tried twice to fold it and roll it into the tiny little bag, I got really frustrated and threw it against the tent in a fit of rage. Lucretia just laughed at my meltdown and said she was happy to see the real me! That calmed me down, we both laughed and she told me to stuff it in the bag, rather than folding. That worked. All these things that the novice camper in me had no clue about. I was learning! Fast!!
Camp with Kibo in the background
Because of all this, I was late to breakfast, everybody had already started on the oatmeal porridge (which we termed breakfast soup since there was always a soup at lunch and dinner). I’m not a fan of porridge, so I didn’t miss out by being late.
Breakfast in the mess tent
Every morning for breakfast we had a flat omelette, cut into squares, pancakes/crepes (but could have been chapati 🤷🏻♀️), and to my delight, there was also Nutella and some jam.
Me and the Nutella!
Abel joined us and told us what to expect today and what to make sure we had in our day packs. It was about 14c (57f) and windy.
We were also given a little lunch pack, a juice, some biscuits (English biscuits, not American ones!) and a chocolate bar. I must have left mine in the mess tent because I didn’t have it later when everyone else did. And in amongst all of the hurry in the morning of packing and the darkness of last night, I couldn’t find my protein bars. I figured I must have left them at the hotel when I was packing and repacking. But I didn’t starve, or I don’t remember being hungry anyway. I think Lucretia or someone gave me something to eat, our little crew of climbers were great, we looked out for one another and gave / leant each other things that we didn’t have.
While we were having breakfast, the camp was taken down and packed away by the porters in waterproof tarps that were carefully arranged and balanced on their heads and backs. I’d seen photos and videos online with the porters carrying all the gear, but nothing quite prepared you for seeing it in person, they are phenomenal and always, always, had a smile on their faces.
Getting ready to leave camp
When Lucretia and I woke up, we laughed liked school girls at the snoring that happened overnight in the tent nextdoor and the comment from Justin likening the snoring to “two wildebeest shagging in a sawmill” I always wear earplugs at night, so I had brought a few spares, which were eagerly snapped up at breakfast. I wish I had brought enough for everyone. But there were definitely some weary eyes that first morning!
Lucretia and I had many times just laughing at the whole ridiculousness of the situations we found ourselves in: the tiny tents, the weeing in the middle of the night, and all the things that we found silly, we would laugh like school kids, it was very cathartic and if I’m honest, probably got me through a lot of the tough times.
Lucretia and I in our tent
After some photos at the gate sign, we were off at 9am. I was at the back of the group most of the time with Abel our main guide. We have four guides with us: Abel, January, Christian and Mathew.
Team Fox at Shira 2 Camp
Abel and I
January and I
Christian and I
Mathew and I
Today was a shortish walk over the Shira Plateau, one of the worlds largest plateaus. It was fun to start to get to know everyone and the elevation wasn’t so bad that we could chat to one another. That being said, my breathing was heavy and labored. Even with all the cardio exercise I had done. A few days before leaving, I was able to do some breathing exercising with a trained meditation practitioner, which was so so helpful. I was able to slow my breathing down and get my heart rate down a bit too.
We got to camp around 1:15pm and were welcomed with a cooked lunch of fried chicken (my favorite!).
Fried chicken for lunch
While the others rested, I went to the kitchen tent and watched Adam and Peter cooking their lunch and dinner (I don’t know why, but I seemed to have a lot of energy, a lot more than I do on a regular day to day). They had different food from us, January told me it’s because they need different food to keep up their strength for the physical exertion they do. On my way out I managed to get the zipper stuck on the fabric of the tent, so that was embarrassing 😂
In the kitchen tent
After a short nap we went for a nature walk as Abel called it. We only went a couple of hundred feet in elevation, about a 20 min walk to acclimatize our bodies. Even just that short elevation helped our bodies acclimatize to the elevation, so that when we went to sleep, our bodies felt better at the lower level. We did this often on the trail, going high and sleeping low. We walked to a place where there were lots of cairns. Of course I was familiar with cairns, one of the pieces in my pebble collection is a cairn.
Temple of the Cairns
I added a pebble to one of the cairns, in that moment, I felt a deep connection with the earth and the climbers that had been before me and the climbers that would walk in my footsteps in the future. We called it the Temple of the Cairns (but it sounded like Karens in an American accent - so it was forever termed the Temple of the Karens for us!)
I added a tiny rock to this cairn
When we got back to camp, we were greeted with a beautiful sunset shining brightly onto Kibo.
During dinner, I realized that I hadn’t drank enough water, I struggled with the 4-5 liters a day, so I gulped down about a liter of water at dinner time. While I was doing it, I knew it meant I would be up all night peeing, but we were told to drink water and I was trying to stick to the instructions we had been given so that I wasn’t affected by altitude.
Of course this backfired… We left the dinner table at 7:45pm, we were all exhausted and went to our tents, it took me about an hour to get myself situated and I was asleep by 9pm. By 10pm I was up needing to pee. I didn’t expect it to go through me quite so quickly! And then I was up again at 1am to pee, this time I went outside to empty my pee bottle and while I was out there I figured I might as well pee. Lucretia also woke at the same time and peed in the tent while I was outside. We were then awake for about an hour before going back to sleep. But sleep was on and off for me and I didn’t wake up rested…
We have put together a GoFundMe (read some of the porters stories) and Amazon Wishlist for the porters so that we can get them the hiking and camping equipment they need to keep them safe and uninjured on the mountain. We would love your support.
Day 1: Morum Barrier Gate to Shira 1 Camp, Wednesday August 9th, 2023
Day 2: Shira 1 Camp to Shira 2 Camp, Thursday August 10th, 2023
Day 3: Shira 2 Camp to Barranco Camp via Lava Tower, Friday August 11th, 2023
Day 4: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp, Saturday August 12th, 2023