Day One and we are on our way!
All night we lay in bed listening to the POUNDING rain outside. It is not the rainy season here in Tanzania, but boy was it coming down. All we could think about was, please let the sun shine tomorrow for our first day of climbing on Mt. Kilimanjaro! When we woke about 6:00am it was overcast and misty but there was no delay, we were headed out at 8:00am.
Our trek began with a three hour drive to the Lendrossi Gate on the west side of the mountain. Here we checked in with the National Park and had our bags weighed as the porters are limited to carrying 18kg of climber’s gear. While we waited we chatted with other climbers and kept peering out into the clouds hoping for a view of the adventure that lay ahead. Everyone was excited and a bit nervous, not truly knowing what would happen next.
What happened next
From the gate, it was about an hour drive up the dirt track to reach the trailhead. However, with 12 hours of solid rain overnight, the road was not to be! The sea of mud that awaited us was even too much for our hearty Land Rover! And, as it happened to us in Tibet on our Cho Oyu climb, so it happened again. The road gave out in front of us and so we did what you do….. we put on our packs and starting walking. But not before a filling lunch in the middle of the road!
Even with the rain, the team was in great spirits, the muddy road adding an additional hour to our climbing day. The route starts in beautiful rain forest (complete with rain!) on undulating trail that was not too tough but made tougher due to extremely muddy and slippery conditions. We were rewarding on the trail today with a sighting of an elegant monkey called a Callubus (spelling?). This primate, about three feet tall, is all black with an incredible white coat gracefully draped across its back and a long, bushy tail, stunning!
The end of the day arrived at Big Tree Camp, a small clearing under a huge rain forest canopy, just before dinner time. Our incredible porters had arrived before us, set up our tents and had hot tea and popcorn waiting…. not a bad way to start to climb. Muddy and tired after a long day, we hit the tents early, listening all night to the screech of the mongoose and the sounds of the African rainforest. The team is doing great and everyone is in good spirits. Stay tuned tomorrow for our climb to Shira I camp!!!!