Sunday – 09/16
Quite a few people got sick over night. Our entire group had some level of stomach woes. I was up at 2:00 AM with a migraine type headache. I was dizzy, nauseous, and had to lay on the ground a couple of times on my way to the bathroom. Let’s just say that vomiting and diarrhea were a big part of that night. We were up at 6:00 AM but I stayed in my bunk as long as possible. It felt like the worst hangover I’ve ever had, mixed with a migraine. There really was no other option besides completing the 7.6 mile (3,000’) climb from Mandara hut to Horombo hut. I was dizzy the entire hike and got sick a few times but managed the 5:39 climb. At each stop along the way I tried to lie on the ground and keep from puking. We got to the Horombo Hut around 2:00 PM and I hit the sleeping bag until the next morning. This hike was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, way more challenging than running 100km.
Monday – 09/17
Thankfully day three was a “rest” day, I was feeling a lot better and when I got up at 8:00 for a wash and toast & hot water (I’d be eating a very light and bland diet for the next few days). We headed out at 9:45 for a hike to Zebra Rocks a 2.5 mile hike with 700’ of climb/descent to some colorful cliffs where light and dark vertical bands on the rock gave the impression of a zebra. It took us 2:34 to complete the hike including a short break. This was a good active rest day which helped to get us acclimatized at 12,200’.
I hung out in the afternoon watching Robert, two of our porters, and Daisuke (a Japanese guy hiking alone who was tagging along with us on Kilimanjaro) play a wild card game. It was hilarious watching the porters adding new and interesting rules as the game went on. I was in bed by 9 as the next two days would be pretty tough. Did I mention that our sleeping quarters were a small “A” frame lodge with four of us squeezed in, it was cozy but I had to sleep in the top bunk as anyone over 5’ 7” tall would not fit!
We were up at 7:00 AM and again I just had toast and sugar water. Our hike started by 10:00 AM and we headd out in great weather on a 6 mile climb from Horombo hut (12,200’) to Kibo hut (15,430’). It took us 5:27 to climb including a lunch break along the way. The popular lunch spot in the rocks on the barren saddle were infested with mice. Although you aren’t supposed to feed animals in the park apparently a lot of people have.
We had great views along the way and the “stroll” was just fantastic. We were at Kibo by 3:30, had dinner by 6:00 and tried to get some rest as we’d be up before midnight to start the summit bid.