Sunday, February 10, 2013

13 Miles Back to Mandara Gate

We left Horombo Hut early in the morning and hiked all the way down to the Mandara Gate.  Phillipe had been evacuated during the night due to High Altitude Pulmonary Edema and was in the hospital.  His wife Charlotte hiked out with him and she must have been really exhausted.  We were all pretty tired as it was, and we got to sleep through the night in our comfortable Horombo Hut. 

I wrapped the offending ankle once again and took more Advil.  The hike out was fairly easy for me, maybe it was because of the Advil.  That stuff can work wonders for pain!  I kept right up with the rest of the group all the way to the gate.  I got a little more criticism as if they actually thought I had faked the whole ankle injury!  If they only knew, how much that stupid ankle was hurting me.  I think I was functioning on endorphins just like I do on my marathons.  I made it, on my own, and was feeling great.  I'm so glad I decided to tough it out with the sprained ankle, and not give up.  It was a lot of work but totally worth it.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Kibo & The Summit!

In the morning we started our hike up to Kibo Hut at 15,500.  My ankle was killing me but I decided to do my best to ignore the pain, and wrapped it tightly, took more Advil, and depended heavily on my trekking poles and managed to stay right with the rest of the group all the way to Kibo Hut.  I had to be very careful with each stop though, because even the slightest incline would send excruciating pain up my leg.  I was so happy that I managed to make it to Kibo. Once there, we had lunch, then took a long nap until dinner time.

We got up around 6 pm and had dinner, then back to sleep until 10:30 pm.  The guides woke us up at 10:30 pm and we packed for the summit.  I wrapped the ankle tightly once again and took more Advil, and went for the summit with my headlamp for light as we took off in the dark.  I was a little slower than the others but the assistant guide and one porter stayed with me.  Each time the group stopped for a break, we caught up with them.  But then they always took off again so I never did get the advantage of the breaks.  But that was ok because I was still heading up and feeling good other than enduring the ankle pain.  Once we got to the big rocks at around 17,000 feet, I definately slowed down.  It was hard to find good places to step without causing undue pain.  But by sunrise, I made it to Gilman's Point, over 18,000 feet. 

The guide wanted me to stop there, but there was no way I was going to give up without making the true summit.  I felt great, barely tired, just sore in the ankle.  So I insisted that we continue along the crater rim to Uhuru Peak, the true summit at 19,341 feet.  I was slow across the steeper portions but I was moving steadily.  I reached the summit just as the rest of the group was heading down.  I was only about 30 minutes behind them and there were many more groups behind me.  It was a thrill to finally reach the summit and know that I didn't let my swollen ankle keep me from reaching my goal.  I got some criticism from some of the others in the group, but I never held up their progress, so I don't think any of it was justified.  I made it totally on my own!

Going back down was difficult, mainly through the rocks.  I practically ran through the scree though because it was so soft.  You could almost ski through that.  The guides got impatient with me when I was nearly at camp and the route got rocky again so they insisted in trying to carry me piggy back.  That was awful!  Very painful for me and I'm sure also for them.  But they were so insistant that I shook my head and put up with it.  I think I would have gotten down faster on my own though.  Fortunately it was only for a very short distance that I had to endure that.  I'm not sure what the hurry was all about. 

When we got back to Kibo, we had lunch then started the long hike back down to Horombo Camp.  I kept up with everyone just fine all the way down to Horombo Camp for the night. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Acclimatization Hike

Today we did a 6 mile acclimatization hike toward the rocky Mawenzi, one of the three volcanic peaks that make up the summit of Kilimanjaro. It was a lovely hike with beautiful views of the mountain. I felt great and was feeling very confident that I was not going to have any problems with altitude or food poisoning or other problems like I had last year.  But on the way down, almost back to Horombo Camp, I slipped on the loose dirt and landed on my left ankle.  I thought for sure it was broken, and that my trip was going to come to an abrupt end.  I couldn't even put weight on my left foot. We were almost back to camp but the guides carried me the few hundred feet to our hut.  I wrapped it and took lots of Advil and hoped for the best.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

7.2 miles to Horombo Hut

Today we hiked on up to Horombo Hut, about 7.2 miles.  It was very pleasant conditions and I was able to keep up with the guides and the rest of the group.  We reached Horombo Hut at 12,340 today.  It was cooler, but still very nice temperatures. I was happy that I didn't have any headaches or other symptoms of altitude.  I was feeling really good about the climb. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

5.5 Mile Hike to Mandara Hut

Today we started our climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro with a wonderful hike through the rainforest to Mandara Hut. I felt great with no sense of the altitude.  We started at about 6000 feet so it wasn't very high at that point.  Mandara Hut is at the edge of the rainforest at 8,860 feet.  It was a pretty comfortable place and I liked being inside in the little hut, even though we had to share with lots of other people from other groups.