Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Africa - part 2 of 5

Mt Meru day 3 – Wednesday 09/12

Our group was up at 1 AM and by 1:30 we were sitting down for porridge and tea.  This’d be a long day, the plan was to complete the 5km climb with 3,280’ of climb followed by a long descent back to Miriakamba hut.  We were looking at a good 10-12 hours on our feet.  By 2:30 AM we were out of our hut and on the way.  The sky was brilliant, the brightest I’ve ever seen and we had spectacular views of the Milky Way from horizon to horizon.  The climb from 11,680’ to the summit at 14,967 featured a couple of scary rock scramble and some exposed ridges.  I earned the nickname “Spiderman” with some of my moves (mostly sliding on my bum or crawling along).  This was especially tricky in the dark!

Our guides kept us on track and gave us all of the assistance we needed to make the hike a success.  We spent 6:37 climbing and were rewarded with a great sunrise over Kilimanjaro.  Another 4:39 later and we were back down at the Saddle Hut.  We had a short rest and then at 2:30 we moved on and another 2:36 later we were at Miriakamba Hut.  Wow!  This was a long day.  After dinner we crashed for an early bed, I for one was very sleepy after being up for 20 hours.

Did I mention it was exposed?

Mt Meru day 4 – Thursday 09/13

Our final day on Meru would be a nice descent via the alternate route (a shorter descent with more single-track).  We were up at 6:00 am and on the 7km hike (8,200’ down to 5,200’), it took us 2:30 to walk down including a stop to get our pictures taken next to a herd of buffalo.  This was the only “rainy” day of the entire trip.  It rained prior to our hike and it was foggy when we started, but by half-way down it was sunny and hot.  That would be typical of our days in Tanzania.  After a brief ceremony with our ports, cook, guide, etc… we were off on a 5 hour ride to Karatu Camp.  It was a hot, dusty, and very bumpy ride.

We got to Karatu around 5:00 PM and quickly got it together for a run.  We needed to be done before sunset as some of the local wildlife could be dangerous and they would be active at Sunset.  We hit the road for the Ngorongoro Invitational 5k.  The early pace setters were three highly touted young local athletes.  The Hungarian ace and the Keeneyan runner boxed me in during the early going.  The youths couldn’t handle the steady pace and were broken with 800 to go.  The Hungarian surged with 400 to go but the Keeneyan and I worked our way back and passed him with 400 left.  In the end the Keeneyan took the win in a lean in a tactically slow 28:22.  After our run it was time for a HOT shower (!).  Despite the somewhat primitive look to the camp, the tens were luxurious and included a sink, shower, and flush toilet.  We closed out the day with a great dinner of Zucchini soup, chicken, bee, rice, curry vegetables, and fired banana & honey for dessert.   After that we hung out for a bit around a huge bonfire.  The pace of things in Africa (slow) was definitely something I’d stepped into with trepidation but by the first couple of days had come to embrace.

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