Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb - Climbing to Forest Camp - 9,000 ft

Trip Day 3 - Climb Day 1


Today we loaded up our stuff into the Range Rovers and set off for the mountain. We got a brief safari on the way out of the park when we ran across a group of Giraffe and a herd of cape buffalo. The drive from the park to the mountain was predominantly on more dirt roads. We drove through a number of villages along the way and it was interesting to see how these people farmed the dry arid land. We had to make a slight detour to register at the Kilimanjaro National Park. But finally we got to the Lemoshu route trailhead. Lemoshu is the new name for the lower part of the route. I was struck by the utter chaos that seemed to be taking place. People were every where and going in every which direction. Seemingly somebody knew what was going on as porters started heading up the trail and we met our personnel porters who loaded up our duffels and took off as well. My personal porter was Penda, and Ed's porter was Bonei.

The first thing we learned, and I knew it was coming, was "pole pole". This means walk slowly. And excruciating slowly did we walk. It was so slow it was painful. I understand that we needed to practice and maybe some people needed to walk slowly even at the lower elevations, but I needed to stretch my legs and this wasn't getting it. But one of my goals for the trip was to trust the guides and walk at whatever pace they set, so I sucked it up and walked along at a geriatric rate. Another goal was to drink a ton of water to help acclimatize. I needed to do this because I chose not to take Diamox to help acclimatize, rather I was taking 120mg twice a day of Gingko Biloba instead. Gingko is suppose to be a more natural alternative and as it turns out I was the only one not taking Diamox. The side effect of my drinking so much water was that I needed to pee constantly, I believe more often than the Diamox people. In any event, the climb was through forest and as such was uninspiring. After a few hours we stopped for lunch and what a lunch it was. Spread out on the middle of the trail were several card tables, with table clothes and stools, completely full of food. Frankly it was initially embarrassing that this much food was laid out for us on the trail. I was expecting some sort of pack lunch, not a 7 course meal. This was to be the norm on the entire trip. We learned a couple of other words today, "Mambo veepee" followed by a response of "Mambo poah". This means "How's it going?" and the response is "It's going cool".

Forest camp was a very small and crowded camp site that we shared with another large group. Here we were introduced to the mess tent, filtered water, warm water for washing, hot tea, the privies, and generally how the camp was going to operate. I was itching to get in some additional hiking so Ed and I organized an optional day hike. We hiked for 30 minutes up the trail, at a decent pace, and then turned around and went back to camp. Dinner turned out to be another 7 course meal, which also turned out to be the case every night. We played a bunch of cards and called it a night around 10 PM. I slept good tonight and was feeling strong and confident about the climb ahead.

Our brief safari turned up a few critters Want to buy some land?
One of the more traditional houses 5 gallon plastic buckets seemed popular for fetching water
Mark at beginning of trail up to Kilimanjaro - 6,000 ft Chaos ensues with the porters
Group shot at beginning of trail. Don't we all look so clean? Picnic lunch on the trail
Forest Camp - 9,000 ft  

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