Written at 5am on Thursday. First walking day. 122 hours to summit. Everything is perfect.
Our first full day in Africa was a quiet day. For me anyway. We started with a briefing from the tour leader, John. The rules are simple: drink enough, eat enough, dress properly and walk slowly. I can do that. After breakfast, most went wandering, I lounged around the hotel, only venturing out to have a gander around the local museum. A couple of thatched huts erected in a front garden to show how the Chaga people used to live. With animals it seems. There were two cows and a goat where you would expect to find the tv.
It was a cloudy day, I had to wait for my first glimpse of
Kilimanjaro. At 5pm, the clouds peeled away to reveal the snow topped summit of Africa’s highest mountain. It wasn’t as daunting a sight as I had expected, because of our perspective, Mawenzi looked more formidable.
During the afternoon, a group of twelve returned from the mountain. They were very subdued, no dancing and singing. Just quiet chat. Eight of the twelve made it, maybe celebration doesn’t feel appropriate when there are those who don’t make it around the table. They said it was the best thing and the worst thing they have ever done.
After dinner, Nikki Ryan’s bag arrived. I was more relieved than her; I am now back up to a full complement of merino wool breeks.
It is just approaching 6am on the day we start our trek. Matt is asleep on the other side of the room. Blissfully unaware that once I send this blog I am going to simultaneously play U2’s Vertigo at full volume, switch on the light and shout “wake up wildebeest” in his ear.
He did say wake me up at 6 as he dropped off to sleep. He was very precise. If I wake him gently, he might not stir until 6.05 am and that would never do.