Kilimanjaro Diary: Day Four

1:08 PM

A beautiful cold morning, fluffy clouds, a delicious breakfast, good company and a day of walking ahead. Does it get any better than this? Well if I was feeling a bit better that would have helped tremendously.

My view as I woke up overlooking the Shira Plateau 
The White Naped Raven which accompanied us throughout the climb and woke us in the middle of our slumber
Waiting for breakfast
About time! The ground is dry yipeeey
Everyone was adapting to the altitude well and it was all smiles as we started on our trek to Barranco Camp (3950m) via Lava Tower (4600m). God’s wrath on us finally ended according to our guides, they were referring to the horrible weather conditions of the day before where we were subjected to extremities some of the porters said was quite rare at this time of the year. This time the sun was out, it was warmer than usual and we all just had to reduce the layers we had on and finally take out our sunglasses. This time around the climb was not steep at all but had a very subtle altitude increase element to it. As per usual I went on slow and just took on Daniel’s advice of walking as slow as I can especially after a troubling right knee that was now wrapped up in tight bandages which helped in alleviating some of the pain and the nausea from the vomiting and diarrhea I had the previous night. The songs and chants continued as we sang along to the popular Kilimanjaro song amongst other tunes. As we progressed, the team spread out based on fitness where the ones eager to reach first were leading the trek and the others including moi were trailing behind. This apparently earned us the nickname of the Peacock group from Outward Bound instructor Mohamed Al Touqi. According to him if you look at a peacock it takes its own sweet time moving along but once it settles and spreads its wings, it simply shines. What a way to motivate an injured and sick woman!  Miraculously, those words worked in motivating me to move on despite how I was feeling.

Say Cheese!
Our awesome guides; Daniel, Boni & Edward (from left to right)
Water break
Oh hello there Uhuru peak
Not too far now, a couple of days to go!
The beauty of the route we were taking was the fact that even though it was more strenuous and tougher, we had a higher success rate to reach the top due to the acclimatization it allows you to have. Altitude sickness is a big major aspect and obstacle that prevents many climbers of Kilimanjaro from reaching the summit and is also contributed to the deaths reported on Kili every year. Today was the real taste of the altitude and acclimatization where you climb high to get used to the altitude but then sleep at a lower altitude in a mode of lessening altitude sickness symptoms.
Lava Tower in all its glory

After lunch we headed out to Lava tower which stood majestically beautiful as we approached nearer. The tower, once climbable but now deemed unsafe, was created by cooling lava at some point in the mountain's past. I still smile as I recall the amazing trek to Lava Tower; Mount Meru was rising out of the African plateau behind us, providing the perfect backdrop and scenery that gives you the drive to move forward. I was feeling much better health wise, even though I had to hide behind rocks and bushes since nature called more than once in the middle of the trek; an experience that had me recall that one time when I was asked what I would do if I woke up a man for a day and all I said was pee standing. I wish I had that capability, which makes me regret not having taken my Go Girl with me which was of tremendous help in the Antarctic.

Nothing beats a selfie
While the porters sensibly took the lower route direct to Barranco Camp we were climbing higher and higher to 4600m which was a shock to the majority of the team. Some got altitude sickness worse than others, pounding headaches, nausea and lethargy to name a few. I have never been thankful than I was today for taking Diamox because I was fine and had no symptoms of altitude sickness at all.  
First encounter
Don't they just look amazingly beautiful? 
Giant Senecio kilimanjari
Our view as we walk down the Barranco valley to camp site
A steep descent from Lava Tower and the beautiful scenery changed once more and returned to the colorful moorlands we were getting accustomed to. That’s when I was in awe with the most scenic and spectacular path on the Machame Route and according to those in the know one of the best on the whole mountain. Tucked in between the Barranco Valley in a vast natural amphitheatre with a sprinkling of the characteristic Senecio kilimanjari, a wonderful plant that I found to have a weird unusual attraction to, you can be forgiven for thinking you are hallucinating when what looks like a palm tree on the hillside looks like you are in a desert back home. But these giant plants are actually unique to this area as they are endemic and can only be found atop Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru. #TeamPeacock made their way rather slowly to the extent that we ended up still heading out to Barranco camp in the dark. This is usually not how it is supposed to be as everyone else reached camp site right before sunset but given the injuries/ health situation some of the team had we moved at a much slower pace. This remains to be memorable because climbing in the dark gave us a glimpse of what was to come on summit night, so we were technically prepared mentally on what one might expect. Luckily we reached just in time for dinner which was just 10 minutes away!

Barranco Camp site & the frightful Barranco Wall on the left
Dinner conversations were dominated by the looming Barranco Wall; rising sheer above us which seemed to be a formidable barrier to our progress to the summit of Kilimanjaro since it is going to be way steeper than Day 3. Another point of conversation was our food as per usual and how to stay warm for days to come, that’s when some of us realized that we could use our water bottles and bladders as heat warmers if we poured hot water into them. With that said the majority did so and must I say my water bladder as a hot water bottle was absolutely perfect in my cocooning sleeping bag that gave me enough warmth all night. 

Thus sleeping like a baby with dreams of the Barranco Wall and day 5 of our Kilimanjaro Climb…

Special photo credits goes out to Faisal Al Abri and Mohamed Al Touqi for some of the pictures shared in this entry.

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