February 24, 2016

On The Trail: KILI Day 3

December 31, 2015

With hiker Patrick brought to safer ground, The Cloud Walkers still had to get in the mind frame of “We must go on.” Even with all of the events happening, I still had to prepare for the rest of the trip. I continued to unpack, recharge and prep my stuff for the morning ritual. Finally, falling asleep before midnight (Happy New Year).

January 1, 2016 Day 3 Lemosho Route, Kilimanjaro

Shira 1 Camp 11,500 feet

The side effects of the altitude medicine hit me like a ton of bricks in the middle of the night. Nature called. I kept my headlamp close and clumsily left my tent. I couldn’t have been happier. Partly from relief but mostly by my view; I looked up and saw the universe. Although it was a little cold, I could have stayed out there all night. The stars were so bright they practically lit up the mighty mountain off in the distance. As I write this, I still get this feeling of enlightenment from that vision. It really puts into perspective of our “size” in the universe. I just wanted to wake everyone up but thought better of it. Back to the sleeping bag, looking forward to the porter’s morning offering of tent-side coffee.


Mt. Kilimanjaro. My very first sight of 2016. It’s going to be a great year.

This morning was no different than the day before, the camera crew tackled shots, interviews, time lapses, took turns packing our camp and breakfast. It still felt like a hustle, I had to remember to drop off my water bottles and camelback to be filled as well as to restock my snacks.


Ian, you left your legs out again.

The altitude was still a non factor for me. We would depart camp at 8:30am. Our hike was 8.5 miles, 2,300 feet in elevation gain and estimated to take 5-7 hours. That estimation was for an able body group. Remember, we now had 14 people and a much slower pace. This would be interesting to see when we would get to our destination.


The Cloud Walkers leaving Camp 2.



Our first task right out the gate was a stream crossing.

Our day three hike was pretty wide open, non technical and a gradual climb.  The temperature was still mild. I was dressed in layers as the previous day. Although it was still comfortable temperature, I still had to remind myself that I was in Africa with no shade so reapplying sunscreen was a must (I wouldn’t have a repeat of safari day). This group did a great job of being a team: at breakfast, there were reminders of any medication we may need to take, as we left for the hike we would sunscreen up and dinner, another medication reminder.


A quick break before the break.

Shortly after leaving camp, we took a couple minutes to readjust prosthetics and get back into hiking mode. It was decided that if they were to get into camp at a reasonable time, they couldn’t stop as a group. They had to keep going and others would need to catch up. Once everyone was geared up, we hit the trail with a consistent pace. We put in some strong strides and finally came upon our first real break, Shira 2 camp. We snacked up and took a well deserved rest.


Kevin taking it all in.


Rick found a patch of grass.

While some hikers took a load off, Scott, the adventurer took to exploring. Many times when the group was at a standstill, Scott would take a side trip. This time he saw a cave on a hill and decided to check it out.


Scott hanging out in his man cave.

The hike continued as we climbed, we began to experience some fog rolling in. It got a little chilly, this is where having a rain jacket as a shell came in handy. We used rain covers on our packs to keep any moisture out.


We hiked up to our lunch spot as a threat of rain loomed. We dropped our packs outside but I used a large garbage bag to ensure my pack would be dry if we did get poured on. Lunch was particularly good, we were introduced to a crepe like sweet thin pancake that was delicious on its own or dipped into the “soup of the moment”. We avoided the rain (of course, since I was prepared for it). Lunch was served in the shadow (if there was actually sun out) of a large hill. I knew our climb would be a little tougher, especially after sitting down and having lunch, so I took a supplement before eating. I have had success with a product by Onnit called ShroomTech Sport. It simply helps me breath better even though my body is working pretty hard (I have used it before taxing CrossFit workouts with great results). One of the challenges of hiking and capturing our climb was to understand the scope of the hike. This meant myself, Carrington and Phillip had to either hustle ahead or let the group go ahead and then race to catch up them.


There are Cloud Walkers out there.

Our views of this day’s hike were obstructed by this fog rolling in. What we could see once again felt like we were in a western state like Wyoming. Wide open spaces, plateaus with rising mountains and rock formations. Our afternoon pace was good but the distance was a challenge. At some point in the hike the ultimate goal of being on top of the mountain got lost. When the unique scenery became common place, it can become comfortable and simply a “walk on a trail”. This feeling changed when we could see camp far off in the distance. Although the rain threatened us all afternoon, it always stayed at bay. Finally about ten minutes before reaching Moir camp, the rain dropped on us. Not too heavy, just enough to cover up and keep moving.


Upon reaching camp, hiker Cory said “It’s nice out. It’s raining but not raining. It’s a good day.”

We made good time for our group. We arrived at camp around 5pm. Other groups had been at the same camp since 3pm. More importantly, we didn’t need our headlamps to navigate into camp.


Moir Camp. 13,800 feet.

When we left this morning, the guides said we would be able to have a great view of Kilimanjaro from our camp. The fog was too think for that view and darkness would set in soon. We settled into camp as the fog relented and revealed a spectacular sunset.


The altitude of Moir Camp is 13,800 feet and I knew the nighttime temperatures would drop. With the onset of colder nights, it meant I got to have some guests in my sleeping bag. That’s right, I slept with all of my batteries, GoPros and to keep moisture out of my lenses, my cameras. I only had a few hours to charge batteries and I couldn’t afford for them to lose any juice overnight. It was a bit crowded in the sleeping bag but I knew if I wanted the best performance out of my gear, I had to keep it out of the elements. I was really careful when I tossed and turned in the night.


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  • I am official jealous Could Walker…what an experience. Memories for a lifetime!


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