Journal for Kilimanjaro Climb/Safari Trip.

January 12, 3:30am

Trying to get up earlier and earlier to reset my biological clock to Tanzania time.  Working on last minute packing and trying to prepare for all the things that can go wrong, go wrong, go wrong...  It's cold in here.

January 13, 5:43pm

In Amsterdam.  Finally met Stuart Nelson in person at the Ibis hotel.  I talked during most of the 8 1/2 hour flight here with a woman who's going to Spain for four months.  Met Ted Raczek at the airport and went on an Amsterdam tour with him for 3 1/2 hours.  Tour was $45 USD and we travelled by both tour bus and boat.  Met Enrique, Warren, Dixie, Susanne and Joan at the Ibis hotel too.  Very tired because I didn't sleep on the plane; will go to sleep at 6:00pm.  Trip going smoothly so far, but I'm still nervous since this is my first time out of North America.

January 15, 6:30am

Yesterday was crazy. Breakfast in Amsterdam was elegant.  We hopped on the plane for an eight hour flight to Kilimanjaro airport.  Organizing 30 people took much patience on all our part, although going through customs was easier than I expected.  We took a 1 1/2 hour bus ride from Kilimanjaro airport to the Marangu Hotel.  All our gear was piled high on top of the bus and held in place with very little rope.  The stars are out tonight.  Stuart, my roommate has stomach problems already.  The Marangu hotel is almost a luxury resort.  It has a large lawn and many chairs to relax in.  Many animals in the nearby woods make noises both day and night.  I wonder what time breakfast is?  Thinking about my friends back in the US.

January 15, 9:30am

We all met in the coffee room for a briefing after breakfast.  My oxygen reading is 97 and my pulse is 66.  This will be my baseline to compare against while up on the moutain.  I plan to leave my valuables here in the safe while on Kilimanjaro.  Lunch is not provided and we need to ask Jennifer (desk person) if we need to purchase lunch.  Maria runs the gift shop.  Dinner is at 7:30pm.  6:00pm tomorrow (Jan 16th) is main briefing session for the climb.  We tested out the Gamow bag and it seemed to work fine.

January 15, 5:00pm

We went on a huge walk this morning and afternoon around the local villages.  The guide was excellent.  We saw many villages, old houses, and the marketplace.  After we got back, we relaxed in the shade with Stoney Tangawizi ginger colas.  I bought stamps in the village (400 Tsh/ postcard).  I'll try to get to church tomorrow.  I can't believe I'm actually here.  This is like a dream.

January 15, 9:00pm

Dinner is over.  It will take me a few days to get used to all these different personalities.  I'm exhausted already and we haven't even started climbing; must be jet lag.  I've been here less than 24 hours and so much has happened already.  Whoosh!  I'm crashing, goodnight.

January 16, 6:00am

I need to make myself eat and drink to prepare for the climb.  Hints for the trip: rest, don't stress, go slowly and enjoy the scenery, drink 3 quarts of water a day, wear sunglasses/sunblock, take lots of pictures, take diamox if I get AMS headaches.  To do today: write postcards, buy souvenirs, do final packing, meditate/relax, take vitamins, wash clothes.  Talked to Ishmael after breakfast.  He wants me to send him money for school books.

January 16, 12:26pm

Washing clothes and writing postcards.  I wish my friends were here to share in this experience.  2:30pm hung out with people and finished my postcards.  Started packing. Clothes still wet from washing.

January 16, 6:00pm

Ground Zero Mission Briefing.  Bring duffel to breakfast at 7:30am.  Leave cash and passport here in safe.  Write my room number on everything (#30) We'll leave at 8:30am (yeah,right).  Bring flashlight for the first day as we might be hiking in the dark.  Two hours on bus and six hours hiking.  BRING YOUR PASSPORT NUMBER for the entry/exit logbooks.  First 1 1/2 days are steep.  AMS symptoms should go away after 12 hours if you take medication.  Trailhead at 6000 ft. Machame hut at 10000 feet.  Shira Hut at 12,500 feet. Baranco Hut at 12,500 feet.  Barafu at 15,000 feet.  Barafu should be -5C (cold!) and Stella Point will be much colder (-25C).  Glare is intense: wear glacier glasses.  Force yourself to eat and drink.  Water helps protect body against cold.  On summit day, take three small drinks every five minutes to prevent throwing up.  If the going gets tough, start counting paces to break up total climb into smaller goals (next 100 paces).  Uhuru peak is only one hour up from Stella point.  We'll only spend 10 minutes or so at the top before coming down.  Wear cold weather clothes from Shira hut onward.  Urine should be copious and clear.  Gamow bag will be carried by porter at end of group.  I keep telling my self that everything will be just fine.  Dinner and bed.

January 17, 6:15am

I'm up, showered and packed.  Let's go!

January 18, 6:00am

The @#%* battery in my camera died at the trailhead yesterday.  I had to wait until camp to get the spare battery out of my main duffel.  Fingers are tingling from the diamox.  I feel great at 10,000 feet.  We have a crew of 96 people (8 guides and 88 porters) for 30 clients.  We all eat in the dining tent and the guide crew serves us.  This trip is unreal.  I'll have to invite my friends to go on this is 5-10 years.  Steve's porter was slow today and didn't get him his duffel until late.  I carved up a piece of wood for the PVC toilet houses because we lost a piece.  We all made it to camp.  Tent assignments were a bit confusing since we had two tents marked #24.  The truck ride up here was cramped, dusty and bumpy.  Jeff climbed out onto the side of the truck while it was moving to take pictures and almost got hit by a passing tree.

January 18, 7:27pm

End of second day.  We climbed to 13,000 feet rather quickly.  This group is coming together well.  Everything is numbered now so everyone knows which equipment belongs to whom.  The sunset was spectacular.  I got a slight headache, but ibuprofen took care of it in a few hours.  Breakfast: tea/hot water, corn flakes/milk, (lots of) bacon, scrambled eggs, fruit compote. Lunch: sandwiches, orange?, hardboiled egg, cookie, banana.  Last night's dinner: soup, meat/potatoes, vegetable gravy. Tonight's dinner: soup, rice/tomato vegetable stew, chicken.  Novelty of trip is starting to wear off.  Thinkgs becoming more routine.  Definition of sarcasm: You say one thing but mean the opposite with the intent to express dissatisfaction with someone or a situation.  Example: Saying "great weather" during a blizzard.

January 19, ~5:00pm?

End of Day 3 (dum, dum).  Light sprinkle of rain.  Hiked up 2500 feet and down 2500 feet to Baranco.  Took diamox last night and had to urinate four times during the night.  Group discussing if we should try to hike all the way to Barafu (sometimes called Barf-oo) tomorrow or spend one night at Karanga valley. Lunch and breakfast standard today.  Despite the altitude, I'm still feeling great; must be the diamox.  Will have to write up a "Kili for Dummies" document when I get home including equipment list, expected food, expected diseases, high altitude information and links to other resources.  It's starting to rain harder.

January 19, 8:03pm

Dinner was chicken noodle soup, beef with bean sauce, french fries.  Group continuing heated discussion about what to do tomorrow.  Many type "A" personalities making this whole thing interesting.  The moonrise through a cloud over Kilimanjaro was beautiful.  I finally had a chance to wash my body and put on new socks/underwear.  Second highest peak around is Mt. Meru.  We'll see what happens tomorrow.  I'm skipping diamox this evening to see if I sleep better.

January 20, ??pm

Day 4 (dum, dum).  The scenery this morning was great!  We climbed "the wall" this morning and enjoyed a class three scramble.  Dixie Storkman and Leanne Weinstein went back to the Marangu hotel this morning.  It took us 3 1/2 hours to get to Karanga valley for lunch.  Continuing discussions on if we should continue on to Barafu.  Warren put his foot down and stuck with the original plan.  We packed up camp and will all go to Barafu tonight.  We struggled through fog and high winds with snow, but all 26 of us made it to Barafu in various states of extreme exhaustion.  People were a bit crabby during dinner due to lack of energy and harsh conditions today.  Porters had very little protection and had to huddle under rock ledges to stay out of snow and wind.  Thunder rattled in the distance over near Mweka.  The sky cleared up at sunset.  I feel weak and have a bad headache.  I didn't want to move, but finally talked myself into taking ibuprofen.  The medication and hot soup for dinner made me feel better.  I'm starting to get diarrhea; I hope it doesn't affect the climb.  I'm so glad I brought my ridgerest pad instead of using the thin foam that was offered us.  Breakfast: Oatmeal and bread.  Lunch: standard with hot mushroom soup.  Dinner: tomato soup and vegetable stew.  Tea time: we had muffins and popcorn with our tea this time.  It took me 1287 paces from hitting Mweka ridge until Barafu camp.  Shit it's cold.

January 21, ??pm

Day 5.  Not much going on today; resting up for summit climb.  Breakfast at 9:30am. Lunch at 2pm and Dinner at 4:30pm.  Jeff stayed at Karanga Valley last night and reached Barafu today for the climb tonight.  My Diarrhea is getting worse.  I packed for the summit and drank lots of water.  I feel weak and sick.  Slept most of the day.  Didn't sleep well at night because everything I drank came out 15 minutes later.  Thinking about friends in USA.

January 22, 3:25pm

Summit Day! Got up at 11pm.  Our guide jumped into our tent and yelled to scare us awake.  We started climbing promptly at midnight.  I feel weak and nauseas.  Diarrhea too.  Miserable day.  The climb started coldly in an ice blizzard and got colder as we ascended.  I couldn't focus on anything but counting paces and the few feet of ground in front of me.  It's hard to keep up.  We don't eat any food and our breaks are only one minute long.  I hope the two pictures I took before sunrise turn out.  It took me 4087 paces from Barafu to get to Stella point.  I'm exhausted and delerious.  I push beyond my mental and physical limits and force myself to the Uhuru summit.  The clouds and snow are 1000 feet below us now.  The summit is crowded with people.  I snapped my two "been there, done that" photos at the summit and went down.  The snow is all melted now from the sun and I cascade through the soft dirt back to Barafu (Barf-oo).  I'm totally exhausted, aimless and apathetic now.  I could only drink half a cup of soup for lunch.  I finished packing my stuff after lunch and started downwards for Mweka hut.  The quick drop in altitude brings back my thirst and hunger.  We descent 9500 feet and 3 1/2 hours (10 miles down trail).  Hiking from midnight to 3pm has exhausted me.  The drink vendor at Mweka hut only has beer and water, no soda (rats).  Rebecca and Ursela stayed at Barafu and didn't attempt the summit.  Jeff Fisher, Susanne and Ray had to turn back before reaching Uhuru peak.  Ray got HACE and had an eye hemorhage.  Diamox really works!  I'll have to try the 500 mg time-release capsules next time.  According to literature, more diamox actually reduces the side effects and is not toxic.  Steve says monitor your pulse and never go over 80% of maximum heart rate to prevent problems.  We're all at Mweka hut now.  I slipped on the mud and bent one of my walking sticks on the way to Mweka.  I bought a beer (1000 Tsh) for my porter.  Looking forward to dinner and a shower.

January 23, ??pm

Got up, gave my porter all remaining power bars and a pair of old wool socks.  After breakfast, we descended 3000 feet to the trailhead.  Several people slipped on the muddy trail so we had a "dirty butt" contest at the bottom.  I bought a coke and a t-shirt.  Took a group photo before hopping on the truck back to the Marangu hotel.  We showered and sat with the porters for a few hours.  We gave the porters their tips and they sang for us.  We sang too.  Afterwards I washed clothes and went to dinner.  Dinner was great and Bill Weinstein made "baked Kilimanjaro" for dessert.  We all got certificates and patches too.  Had very vivid dreams.

January 24, ??pm

Got up early, packed for the safari and had a standard breakfast.  We left at 8:00am and headed to Serengeti Select Safaris in Arusha on a bus.  We stored our mountain gear and hopped aboard the Land Rovers.  Drove through Lake Manyara Park.  I stood up most of the day and looked out the Rover's pop top.  We saw far more animals than I expected.  I got a picture of an elephant for my friend Jennifer back in the USA.  Lots of copulating baboons.  some were grooming or carrying babies.  Many pictures.  This place is unreal.  Arrived at Gibbs Farm Hotel.  Place currently managed by Dale Jensen.  Dale worked at same ski resort as my friend back in the US.  Will have to see if they know each other.  Gibbs farm is a beautiful place isolated from the surrounding third-world poverty.  Slept well and had more vivid dreams.  Animals seen: baboon, bushbuck, zebra, warthog, banded mongoose, elephant, impala, giraffe, spur-winged goose, white mongoose, termite hill, knob beak duck, egyptian geese, yellow beak stork, white headed heron, crowned crane, black faced monkey, egret, black smith plover, black wing stint, dik dik, slender mongoose, maribu stork, cape buffalo, hippopottamus, wildebeeste, blue monkey.

January 25, 6:15am

Got up, ate a small breakfast.  Not as hungry because we're not climbing anymore.  Drove to Ngorogoro crater and saw many more animals.  Stalked a cheetah for awhile.  Stopped by a lake to eat lunch where birds dive-bombed tourists to get their lunch.  We saw a pride of lions.  At 4:00pm it started raining hard so we left to go to Ngorogoro Serena Lodge.  Holy cow, this was the most decadant hotel I've been in.  Hotel owned by the Aga Khan.  I felt so out of place.  Everything is covered with stones.  I hung out with Bob on the back deck to watch the stars.  A grounds person with an AK-47 walked by and asked us to go inside because of the prowling animals nearby.  Needless to say, we went inside.

January 26, ??pm

Ate an elegant breakfast and changed Land Rover's so Warren could be with his wife.  I'm now in the blue vehicle with Bill and Leanne Weinsteins (fellow Washingtonians).  This jeep has no suspension.  Drivers name is "Bogo" which means Buffalo. We drove to the Ndutu lodge for lunch.  Herds of gazelles crossed the road as we neared the lodge.  This place is out in the middle of nowhere!  The tap/shower water is heavily alkaline.  The area is desolate and not even the local people are around to ask for handouts.  We drove around Ndutu after lunch but saw nothing but land and a few guinea fowl.  The day was quiet and I sat on the rover's roof as we drove around.  Sunset was beautiful.  Dinner was chicken with rhubarb cobbler for dessert.  This place needs better pillows.  Jeff Fisher snored a bit, but he stopped after I asked him to.

January 27, 6:00am

Got up.  I have no clean clothes so I put in a request for laundry service.  We'll stay here again tonght.
Discussed personalities with Bob.  Contolling people attract passive-agressive people.  Histrionic (overly dramatic) people attract ineffective (avoids emotional conflict) people.  Substance abusers attract enablers.  Victims attract abusers.  DSM4 (Diagnostic Statistical Manual) describes these personality disorders.  These are set at a very early age and are next to impossible to change.  We spent all day today in the Serengeti.  First off, we saw a cheetah eating its kill.  Near the end of the day we saw three lions playing tug-o-war to rip apart a Topi. Because there were three lions, the hyenas and vultures stayed back.   A jackal disemboweled a baby gazelle just before the gazelle's mother chased it off.  The baby was still breathing when we saw it.  We saw herds of elephants and hippos.  Many lions were lying around in the sun.  From a distance, we saw a leopard eating its kill in a tree.  Another nearby tree had a previous kill hanging in its branches.  I stood up most of the time out the roof and got really dirty as we cruised down dusty roads at 60 mph.  Dinner was blah.

January 28, ??pm

Breakfast was standard and blah.  We left at 8:30am and promptly saw another Jackal disembowel a gazelle (oh, great).  The alternator in one vehicle froze up and broke the fan belt.  We ended up redistributing people and towing the bad vehicle to Ngorogoro for repairs.  We then went back to Gibbs farm for an excellent lunch and an hour of rest before cramming into one less vehicle for the trip back to the Serengeti Select Office.  Cruising along at 84mph on dirt roads without a suspension can be scary.  We arrived at the office, hopped on a bus and were at Kilimanjaro airport 1 1/2 hours later.

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