Teriffic Trekking Trip to the Tarns

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Well howdy all! Welcome back for Day 3 of the trip up Mount Kilimanjaro. Hard to believe that there are only a few more blog posts left to write about our amazing African trip. I hope you’ve stuck with me through all the long days, and that you’ve all been enjoying these posts. It’s sometimes quite a job to try and write up these stories, especially since life has moved on since then, but it’s nice to re-visit these the adventure and try and remember some of the little details. Day 3 was another straight trekking day for team Cantrailia. Compared to day 2, it was much shorter, but at these altitudes, that’s not such a bad thing. For starters, have a look at the map of the journey on day 3, as well as the set of pictures posted on flickr. Once you have a sense of the day, read on for the rest of the post.

So just what would our day consist of? Well, we were setting out from Kikelewa Camp situated at 3,660m, and working our way gradually up to about 4,500m, finishing at a place known as Mawenzi Tarns, basically in the shadow of Mount Mawenzi (yes, I just realized that I have been spelling it wrong, and now need to fix a bunch of things. Oops. The peak of Mount Mawenzi, as a point of interest, is called Hans Meyer peak. Guess what? Hans Meyer is also my dad’s name, so that was pretty cool. And just who was Hans Meyer? As it turns out, he was the first European (read: white person) to summit Mount Kilimanjaro at Kibo Peak in 1889. Very neat. No relation to me I don’t think, but still an interesting factoid I thought.

Upon waking up in the morning, the first thing we had to do was chip through the ice on the tent! Well, not quite, but there was definitely a lot of frost, and there was actual ice that accumulate on our tent. I was feeling particularly energetic right off the bat, and was up quite early, so after getting dressed I took a little hike alone to Kikelewa Cave, which wasn’t far from our camp. The sun was shining brightly, and Kilimanjaro was out in full splendor, so adventure was beckoning me. I took care to walk slowly and carefully, as I did have to cross another ‘stream’, and there were lots of boulders. No sense twisting an ankle at this point! After my little stroll, I headed back to camp to finish getting my gear sorted out and to join the team in the mess tent for our breakfast. It was a great start to the day.

I think it was shortly after 8am that we left camp, with the sun still shining, although the air was still quite crisp, due to our altitude. Early in the trek, I kept noticing what seemed to be charred tree trunks. I eventually asked about it, and the guide explained to us that this was the result of a fire a few years back. It essentially rolled it’s way right up the mountain, burning down a large portion of the shrubbery at higher altitude. Too bad, as it takes several years for these trees to reach any real size. Not sure how the fire started, but I’m guessing some careless human. When will we learn?

After about an hour went by, the fog once again started to drift in, meaning of course that our somewhat interesting views were once again lackluster. Too bad. On the plus side, we wrapped up our hiking in a mere 3.5 hours, and never had to pull out our full gear once on the hike. How great is that? Well, as it turns out, too good to be true. While we’d reached camp, we weren’t done for the day. We still had an acclimatization hike to get through after lunch. So, first order of business as usual was getting our gear and setting up our living spaces in the fabric domiciles that we were inhabiting. Once settled there, it was off to the mess tent once again to eat (did I mention that we seldom went more than 4 hours without a full meal, and when we did we at least had snacks? I was sure I’d be gaining weight on this trip.

The camp up here was actually a really spectacular location. The landscape was extremely rugged, with our tents set up amidst a lot of rocky terrain. Nearby was a small lake which was our source of water for this camp (in fact the last water source until we were at the end of our summit day). The various other groups were scattered around this lake, although we definitely seemed to have the best spot. It turns out each morning, Naiman would send out a couple of the faster porters early in the morning to secure the ‘prime’ camping area. Our camp was the only one on that side of the lake, giving us more peace and quiet.

After lunch was done and we were making our move to go on the hike, wouldn’t you know it, the rain started! No big deal, we could just put on our now familiar rain gear and press on. I don’t think everyone was as keen as I might have been to get going again, but from what I could see this little hike should be pretty fun, as there would be some scree and some rocks to navigate. A nice change of terrain. We were also told this would be the sort of terrain we could expect on our way up to the summit on the final push. I really enjoyed it. Once again, we didn’t go out too high, just enough to experience a slightly higher altitude.

Once again, we also didn’t dawdle too much at the top, especially not Deb, who had to make a pretty quick descent back to camp. Apparently she picked up whatever issue I’d had the day before, and didn’t feel like ‘giving back’ to nature up on the rocks. Can’t say I blame her. The rest of us also descended fairly quickly. As much to be done of the rainy hike as anything else. Fortune smiled on us once again though, as once we returned to camp, we were rewarded with a break in the weather once again. It happened while we were eating our afternoon snack (yup, eating again!) of popcorn, peanuts, cookies, and hot drinks.

We all spilled out of the tent into the gorgeous sun, all too aware that it could disappear at any moment. We clamored on some rocks behind our camp in order to get a better view of the camp and the surroundings. The sun was shining brilliantly on Mount Mawenzi, which was pretty awe-inspiring. In a way, I’d wished we’d also be summitting that peak at 5,145m, but that wasn’t in the itinerary. Either way, the view was really cool at that point in the day, which was now just after 5pm. While taking some pictures and videos, wouldn’t’ you know it, the fog was literally rolling right up the mountain into camp once again. So, once again, it was supper, then back to the tents for an early night and sleep. No game playing this night. After all, we were getting pretty high up the mountain as well, so rest would serve us well in the next day, since that would actually be the start of the summit push.

That pretty much sums up day 3. I’m getting excited to blog the last 2 days, but it’ll have to wait till tomorrow, as there are other things to tend to at the moment. My thought of the day here is to always seize the moment. You never know when the fog will roll back in, so take advantage of every good chance and opportunity that you see coming your way. Till tomorrow, enjoy your days / nights!

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