After a torturous, yet beautiful long hike we finally got to our Machame gate.
Once again we were asked to register at the Ranger office. Signing my name in that register gave me solace, that my body would not rot in the rugged terrains of Kilimanjaro & these rangers would come to my rescue. The thoughts that crosses one’s mind due to exhaustion is amusing!!
The dichotomy of enjoying the stunning Kilimanjaro view and wanting to just sprawl in my tent was further tiring. Soon the decision was made by our own personal hike coach, Crazy Willie, it was “no sleeping”.
Crazy Willie, was a full of life character that was responsible for ensuring we finished our meals, had our spirits high and ensuring the motivation department was never low. He was our comic relief on the mountain and much welcomed after mentally challenging hikes.
“Are you ready to meet my fiancee!?” says Crazy Willie. “Your fiancee!?” I said with a perplexed look. “Kilimanjaro is my fiancee, you have to eat and get energy if you want to meet her.” he further elaborated. “Oh boy! we are in for a comical treat… aren’t we!? Will altitude affect me too… ” I thought to myself.
After a quick walk-through of the campsite and introduction to the mysterious bathroom ( I called it the “The Mine of Moria”) facility, dinner was served. Dinner was being cooked a small distance away, in a tiny tent. I thought I would be famished at this point, but food was the farthest thing on my mind. Just wanted a hot shower and sleep. Sadly, no showers for the duration of the hike – it’s a new meaning to the word “stinking”.
Hot dinner was served in the cozy blue Mess tent around 7:30 pm, prequel-ed by a steel bowl of freshly popped corn. Might I add – these were scrumptious popcorn.
Menu was : Cucumber soup (a light bowl with abundance of flavour!), Vegetable stew and bananas/mangoes for dessert.
Sironga and Dixon arrived after dinner into the mess tent to review the plan for the next morning and what to prep in terms of clothing. After which it was off to get familiar with our tents. 3 girls, 2 tents – you do the math. Naturally we took turns to embrace solitude in the tent, which was extremely needed for mental sanity and refreshing the hygiene.
It was soul calming to behold the moonlight engulfing the mountains, the forest and all it’s surrounding. I stood still, as the silent observer of the moonlit paths and crevices in the giant mountain range ahead of me. The illuminating path held the journeys of the past trekkers, their struggles and triumphs. The sky was covered with pearly white, gleaming stars. I felt privileged to witness these sparkling beacons of hope that night, the journey ahead just seemed promising. Alhamdulillah A sight like this just refreshes your spirituality and your faith.
“Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars.”―
It was soon time to call it a night, and off to our 2-people tent we headed. The stench of dead fish was pretty strong in the tent, and with 2 resident you felt like sardines in a tin can. The smell was due to the wet tents being bundled up all day. The temperature dropped to almost 10 degrees at night and I was grateful for the rented sleeping bags that could withheld -40 degrees Celsius.
Dead fish smell, cozy quarters was all forgotten as I fell into slumber.
After completing a trip of this nature and living in those conditions I realize how much in life I need to be grateful for and how much is taken for granted, but more on that in a later post.
Oh wait! The 2.5 L of water consumed during the day wanted to leave my body, it was time to visit the “The Mine of Moria”.
Even the fellowship trembled at the thought of passing “The Mine of Moria” and here I was, a mere mortal – what chance did I have? I wont lie, there were thoughts of just doing the deed in the closed entrance of the tent, but then I decided to spare my tent-mate. At 2:30 am, with trembling hands I strapped my head lamp, buckled my hiking boot and with a big inhale stepped out the tent. My eyes took time adjusting to the moon kissed night, each rustle startled me and with a heavy heart I marched forward. I do recall seeing some small animals, but it could be my imagination fueled by fear. Courage was gathered, and I unzipped the tent to enter the “The Mine of Moria” while the voice of Saruman narrating the following in my head:
Moria… You fear to go into those mines. The dwarves delved too greedily and too deep. You know what they awoke in the darkness of Khazad-dum… shadow and flame.
The fellowship prevailed, conquering the mines and then lay asleep unaware of the journey ahead.
Day 1 Completion: Machame Gate (1790m) to Machame Camp (3010m)
- Distance hiked:10.8 Km
- Time to camp: 7.5 hours [ 6 hrs avg time ]
Next up – Day 2: Hi Ho Hi Ho up the hill we go.