Day 4 Shira Hut (3810M) to Barranco Camp (3900M)
This time last week, I was sipping parsley tea in London. That’s right, parsley tea. Dregs of the disgusting herb floating in my uni mug. It’s ‘herbal’ tea, I think over and over whilst gagging and silently begging – come on period, I need you to come.
Needless to say, that my parsley tea (courtesy of Google for inducing periods) did not bring about my monthly cycle. I start Day 4 of my Kilimanjaro trek in despair. NO, not here, not now! It is a undiscussed fear for women (menstruation and mountains) but I will write about it openly here.
With a dull thigh and stomach ache to contend with, I decide to listen to music for the first time as I walk. I dodge the need to fill the silence with chat and I bounce around to lyrics as we hike closer and closer to Kili. I follow a fellow trekker in front of me as I surpass the highest height I’ve ever walked to (previously Mt Toubkal 4167M, May 2013, now Lava Tower 4600M, March 2015).
Today I started completely losing my appetite. I picked at a boiled egg and forced down some soup before proceeding to walk as far from the group as I could. I needed to find the largest rock possible for some toilet privacy.
After lunch, we start our descent from Lava Tower [4600M] to Barranco Camp [3,900M]. Climb high, sleep low! My tent buddy (Jill) is in front of me.
As we trek, there is a sudden movement and a metal crack as Jill’s trekking pole snaps cleanly in half. I watch in shock as Jill stumbles in front of me on a steep section of descent. Florence, our head guide, grabs Jill with a strong grip, steadying her and positioning her to sit on a rock. I rush over, making a L shape with my leg so Jill can rest her ankle on it. We are positioned between large rocks and Jill’s ankle immediately swells after the fall. Florence acts calmly and swiftly, assessing the ankle before calling the assistant guides over.
The ankle looks purple and I start to hold back tears. We don’t start trekking again until Florence gives the ankle the green light. He takes Jill’s daypack and hands her a walking pole before we descend down to Barranco Camp together. Jill spends the evening with her ankle in freezing cold water, in an attempt to reduce the swelling from her fall.
Day 5 Barranco Camp (3900M) to Karanga (4000M)
“Kissing Rock!” announces our guide jubilantly. “You face the wall, hands up for balance and you kiss the rock as you slide pass”. I feel a knot of nervous excitement and glance at the Barranco Wall towering over us.
We leave the sheltered comfort of the mess tent and start with a slow scramble. I cross a partly frozen river and watch in admiration as the Porters (holding heavy loads!) stride pass us, expertly navigating the sheer drops and rocky terrain.
We scramble up 254M to reach the top of Barranco Wall [4,200M] with Kilimanjaro emerging in full view.
After lunch on the summit of Barranco Wall, we descend straight into Karanga, our first camp at over 4000M. For the evening, we have CHIPS FOR DINNER! I still wonder how such lovely meals were made on Kili, my appetite suddenly returned after seeing the metal dish loaded with potato goodies.
Day 6 Karanga (4000M) to Barafu (4600M) – The last camp before Summit Day!
Breakfast feels oddly solemn today, like a dark cloud lingering over us all. As I sit at the table, I notice that a diary (Jim’s) is being handed around. I take the diary in confusion and see a paragraph addressed to everyone. I read through the paragraph that Jim wrote. (Jim lost his voice during the trek). His chest infection was getting increasingly worse with higher altitude and he will no longer continue the Kilimanjaro trek. At the end, Jim wrote “I can’t f***ing believe it”….I stayed silent as I read this. Jim was going to descend with a Freddie, a assistant guide, today…
As we go to part ways, Jim gives everyone a hug, his voice is raspy and he gives a sad smile. As I hug Jim, I can no longer remained composed. I cry over and over, sobbing heavily into his shoulders, apologising and almost denying it was happening. I wanted more then anything for Jim to continue the trek with us, we’ve spent 5 days trekking together and it felt incomprehensible that Jim was leaving, like a missing link in our trekking team.
We all go to bed early at Barafu Campsite, all of us in nervous anticipation of the summit trek ahead of us.
Day 7 Barafu (4600M) to Uhuru Peak (5895M)
My summit day of Kilimanjaro can be read here
Part 1 of my Kilimanjaro diary can be read here