Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – a Texan’s story
How was Kilimanjaro? Here’s how it went down 😉
One of my dear friends from Texas recently went to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Here is her story..
It feels sooooooo good to finally connect to the outside world and I’m sooooo looking forward to being home. So, this is how my journey went:
On my flight to Kili I got sick so I started my first day weak because I spent the day before throwing up. I don’t think I ate anything bad, I think it was nerves that got the best of me. Regardless, I thought the first day would be relatively easy since it was at a low altitude and we were only scheduled to do 5k. OMG!!! Was that a wrong assumption. When we finally got to camp I told Lorraine “if this is suppose to be the easy day I’m so screwed”!! Well, at dinner I was glad to hear that everybody else in the group (we were 6 total) felt the exact same way. Turns out that because of the really bad rains they had received the previous week, we started at a lower point so in total we did a bit over 10k in nasty slippery mud. Days 2-5 were long but I was feeling strong so they were fun but hard and uneventful. Don’t get me wrong you get tired of sleeping in a tent, no showers, no electricity and no toilet. It’s no picnic to get up in the middle of the night in freezing temperatures to use the restroom.
Then around 10pm of day 5, the beginning of the end of me feeling good and confident. At 11:30pm I was desperately trying to put my boots on and run to use the restroom praying I would make it. I made it just in time just to have it followed by intense vomiting. About every hour, the same routine. Praying that as I threw up, I didn’t exert too much pressure and have an accident on the other end. It got so bad that Lorraine gave me a huge ziplock bag to throw up in that way I could do that part while sitting in the tent instead of standing in the freezing cold, and as I vomited, she patted my back. I felt guilty that she didnt sleep that night because of me. Needless to say I did not have breakfast. I sipped on water with electrolytes which I’m soooo glad Ernie gave me some of his because that would end up being the only nutrition I would get for the remainder of the trip. That day was suppose to be a short 2-3 hour trek but since I was so tired from not sleeping and no fuel, it took me 4 hours to get to the next camp. The group went ahead but Lorraine stuck by my side with the asst guide. Luckily no poops while trekking just vomiting along the way. Finally got to camp, no lunch just straight to the tent to rest. Summit was scheduled for midnight! Later, Lorraine comes in and says that if I don’t have dinner I would be prohibited to attempt to summit because there’s no way I would have the fuel to make it. As the hours progress, no poops and my vomiting finally turned to dry heaving.
Dinner comes around and I’m soooooo not hungry and all I want to do is sleep but I force myself up. Dinner is carrot soup and pasta with bean and veggie sauce. The guide walks in to check in on everybody, Lorraine is sitting in front of me. Lorraine is looking at the guide, the guide is looking at me and I’m looking at Lorraine. The guide asks me if I’ve thrown up, I lie and say I’m doing better. The guide then asks Lorraine and she lies and says that she was sleeping and didn’t hear anything. Lorraine, with her eyes signals that the guide is looking at me and nods at me to eat. I take a tiny bite and I chew and chew and chew but it just does not want to go down. The pasta and beans become this gooey nasty paste in my mouth from all the chewing and as I attempt to swallow I start to gag. Lorraine is nodding her head back and forth like saying ” you better push that food down anyway you can.” Now in my mouth there’s a nice mix of food and vomit that I quickly grab my cup of tea to drink and with that I managed to get it down. I did one more bite then the guide left so for now I was off the hook. Back to the tent to rest some more.
Around 11pm we get woken up to have one more last meal before summit. We put on all of our layers of clothing and head to the mess hall (tent) and I have about two spoons of porridge. So at this point I’m thinking I should just stay and not attempt because there was no way the electrolytes would be sufficient fuel to get me to climb 4000 feet in freezing temperatures but I think, let me just give it a shot. I’ve come too far to give up and off I went. About 30 minutes in I knew it was a HUGE mistake to have gone. It was so steep and I could barely lift my feet. Then the wind kicked in, about 40mph, nonstop, which we were later told that we got lucky because it can get a lot worse. An hour in, I was literally falling asleep as I hiked and dry heaved along the way. The rest of the group went on while Lorraine, asst guide and porter stayed with us so I wouldn’t slow everybody down. One step ahead of the other is all I kept repeating to myself and thought that once I would see some light in the sky, it would help me.
Well, it’s dark and dark and dark. We ask the guide how much longer and he says about 4 hours and I just fall apart. I start crying. I don’t have the energy to continue but now I’ve really screwed myself because I don’t have the energy to climb down either. Lorraine encourages me, she puts on a strong face and said, lets go, we can do it. So onward we go. About an hour later, we take another break and sit. Big mistake. The second I sat down, I fell asleep which then the guide is shaking me and telling me stand up. Again, onward we go and finally the stars are disappearing as the sun slowly starts to sneak in. The asst guide is trying to encourage us by saying that Stella Point is at eyes sight but still seemed so far away. Sometime after 7am we reach Stella Point. I can’t feel nor move my toes or fingers and Lorraine’s asthma is going on full force. I see the glaciers from a distance and the guide takes our picture by the congratulations sign.
Pain and misery don’t begin to describe how I felt. Summit is ONLY 100 meters away. Decision time. The only reason I wanted to proceed was ego and pride. Could I do another 100 meters. At this point I didn’t even have the energy to hike down let alone climb even further. Tears come down my face. I’ve pushed my body like I have never ever pushed it and it was time to make the decision that was best for my health and not my ego. I tell the asst guide I’ve come this far and it has already been one hell of a journey. An additional 100 meters wasn’t going to take away a weeks worth of hard work. I’m going down. I didn’t want to sway Lorraine so I started my descent with the porter. I was so tired that my legs were giving up on me on the way down. I lost count how many times I fell. When I finally got to camp I got a huge greeting from one of the porters which ran with a chair in one hand and pineapple juice in the other. I drank my juice crawled into the tent and past out. About 2 hours later, Lorraine made it in. She summited!!! We had lunch together which for me was 2 pieces of pineapple and then we packed our things. We had another 4 hour hike down to the last camp where we would spend the night before finally leaving the mountain. More dry heaving along the way and after about 14 hours of climbing, I finally got a full nights rest. The following morning we were all just excited to think that we were hours away from a shower. As we trekked down, we reach the gate to be greeted by the entire crew singing and dancing and our last meal in the mountain and my first real meal in almost 3 days. Because I made it to Stella Point, I still got my certificate of completion;)
I’m glad I had Lorraine, a hell of a trooper by my side and grateful that the guide made sure I was we’ll taken care of. Thanks to my honey and his electrolytes which were my only source of nourishment and was just enough to keep my body from collapsing.
I’m sure I will always wonder how things would have turned out if I would have been healthy. My ego was slightly bruised but my soul was fulfilled. That being said, I don’t ever want to see a tent, sleeping bag or bathing wipes again in my life 😉
Next vacation, a towel in one hand, a piña colada in the other, the ocean in front of me and Ernie by my side !!!;)
Well Done Enedina!