Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kili Day 2

Shira Camp
Kili Day 2, 25 Jan 2011

The rain stopped during the night and in the morning the clouds already had formed a floor that blocked the view beneath the forest.  We had some porriage for breakfast and shouldered our packs to start up the hill.  As we exited the camp the rain forest gave way to misty heather with many large bushes.  We were thankful as the trail changed from the rich loam of the forest to more of a gravel trail that wasn't as slippery.

As we walked we were continuously enveloped in passing clouds.  It was hard to tell time in the clouds and the 9km scheduled for the day went by quickly.  The walking wasn't hard and there were only a few places near the end of the day where we had to put the trekking poles away in order to use our hands to climb over a rock escarpment onto the Shira plateau.  It took us six hours to get to Shira Camp at 3840m (12,598 ft) and when the clouds broke we had an amazing view of the plains below and the summit above.  It didn't look that far away but we still had another four days of walking to get to the top.

We got into camp early in order to allow ourselves time to acclimatize and try to avoid altitude sickness.  Most of our crew lives at sea level so we were concerned and took Diamox as a precaution.  However, one member of the group was unable to take Diamox due to a sulpha-allergy and took Viagra instead (his trail name).

Since we had some time to kill I wandered around our huge encampment.  There were hundreds of tents set up over the side of the mountain and many different languages and accents I didn't recognize.  Next to our camp was a bunch of Germans who were taking baths in the open with cold water.  On the other side was a luxury group of girls with video cameras doing a documentary about climbing the three highest points in Africa over a three-week period.  Further down the slope was the porter camp, which was the loudest and most colorful of all, and where our food was cooked.

Dinner was more potatoes and some kind of meat accompanied by potato-leek soup.  The cold wind blowing across the exposed plain where we camped kept the temperatures cool and during the night water left outside froze. 

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