Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Thursday, July 21-
this stage of my climb is often broken into two parts- on one day, a hike from Barranco to Karanga, then on the next day, a hike from Karanga to Barafu Camp. naturally, we opted to do it in just one day. it would prove to be the hardest day yet.

my climb through the valley- look closely, that's camp in the background.
we woke right before the sun came up, and it was freezing. packing up my sleeping bag, body pad, and backpack was really tough...i was sleepy with cold fingers. not a great combo. after hiking through the valley below the campsite, the very first thing i saw was the Great Baranco Wall. it's almost totally vertical, and you have to scramble up using just your hands. i loved it though, it was so different from the rest of the hike so far! it took a little under two hours to make it to the top, and it's a good thing i'm comfortable with heights, because on the wall, you just can't help but to look down as you're climbing.

my view from the Barranco Wall, just as i reach it's top.
it was a long, long hike to Karanga. after doing the Barranco wall, i got my poles out and used them the rest of the way. the scenery changed yet again. still mostly barren, but the most interesting cactus-like trees. at times, i was walking alongside the stream, which was really beautiful in the shimmering sun. eventually you just settle into a rhythm and find a pace, ignoring whatever hurts, the sun in your eyes, the guide that won't talk to you... instead concentrating on how far you've come, the scenery, the trader joe's trail mix in your back pack, and how great it will be to get into your tent at the end of your day. at long last, i reached Karanga, where anyone in their right mind would have pitched the tent and called it a night.

but no.

we did stop and have a snack there, long enough for me to become jealous of all the hikers that were staying there that night, and then i kept walking. many times, i'd think i was almost there, only to get to the next ridge and see the NEXT trail.

when you hike for so long and get so tired, your mind does some really interesting things. with no distractions like twitter, facebook, the radio, TV, other work, your brain starts filtering through stuff and what you think about is different than what you normally think about (if you normally think of anything, lol) i think it was sort of like meditation, just not the peaceful lying on the yoga mat kind. i started to realize how i handle things, and what i really think about certain things/people. i won't elaborate here, i'll save it for my book. KIDDING! or am i?? at ANY rate, i found myself exhausted, and i was still a good 2-3 hours out of camp...and it was so cold i wore every layer of clothing that i had in my day pack. with my fingers and toes numb, and in the end, my mind, too, i stumbled into camp on shaky legs.


this is it...i'm at the last camp before the summit. the idea is to get a few hours' rest before they wake you up at 11pm to begin the assault on the summit. after a light dinner- i have NO appetite now, at this altitude-i climb into my tent. between the freezing cold temperatures and my heart racing from the altitude PLUS the excitement of possibly reaching the summit of the highest point in Africa, and the highest free standing mountain in the world, i can't imagine falling asleep. instead, i get all of my things organized. all of my clothes are ready- hell, i was wearing most of them already. i got my serious sub-zero boots out. fresh batteries in the head torch. extra socks. had to put anything i didn't want to freeze in my sleeping bag with me. contact solution, camera, phone, EVERYTHING. after that, i crawled into my sleeping bag to wait.

excerpt from my journal- "i have my second severe headache. i'm sure it's altitude and all the dust i ate on the way up today...but jeez, it f'n hurts. i got all my stuff ready for tonight's departure. i am so excited. i am so hopeful. i think i have a really good chance of making it. i'm going to do it."


next blog... summit attempt.

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