Sunday 1 July 2007

Well, we are alive and safe and elated to be off the mountain. Here will be a brief overview of each day, but remember: the trek is always greater than the sum of its parts.
Day 1, Tuesday
We woke up around eight the day of our trek, and we young ones went to the coolest, American-style cafe lounge around the corner which Ryan and I had enjoyed the previous afternoon and breakfasted: good waffles (sans syrup), dry muffins, excellent milkshakes. A great meal. We then met the old one, who’d been out all morning wandering town and munching on the fresh fruit he picked up along the way, and loaded our gear into a 10-person bus and set out. We rode along a dirt road through farmland and such, small plots of crops giving way to rainforest with houses along the road. Curtis pointed out a leg of beef dangling oh so enticingly by the side of the road as a good potential dinner. The exotic, safari-like, triangular gate loomed out of the fog, and we passed more off-white buses and a small swarm of street vendors–or “African flies,” as I am wont to call them–selling pack covers in every color of the rainbow and other last-minute necessities. At reception just inside the gate, we met two San Franciscans, a twenty something man named Curtis and a thrity something woman named Anne. They were very down to earth and sociable, and, seeing as they were on the six-day trek same as we, we took a liking to their wit and warmth, figuring we’d see them a lot. Well, we hung around just inside the gate as our fifteen porters divided most of our stuff up to carry. Ryan and I wanted to carry our packs up, being Philmont verterans and all, so Paul followed suit, so the only personal packs being lugged up were the Wegeners’ considerable amount of junt.
So, without much ado we set off up the mountain. Just a dirt road held close on either side by the thick rainforest was our trail. Curtis set a “mudererous” pace in the back with our guide Tadei and Virginia and I followed suit with Wema the assistant guide holding up the rear. Ryan and Paul raced off up in the lead, stopping every once in a while to let us catch up to make sure we were still coming. It was all thin trees with thick canopies and draped in droopy moss. The floor layer was dense foliage, mostly underbrush and not much wildlife or even many insects. There was no break in the tree-coverage as we hiked uphill, but we were very aware when we started hiking through the clouds, as it was like walking through fog, only less dense, and we cleared by the time we reached the camp. When we stopped for lunch, Curtis, Ryan, and I ate on the same log as the Friscans (all trekkers, though they start at different times and have variant paces, eat at designated areas) and got to know them a little better. It took about four and one half hours to reach camp, and it was weird, because the tents were set up, so we all just sat around on the grass, a tad dazed, as we waited for the little dining tent to be erected.Ryan and I thought it quite different from Philmont, and Curtis kept talking about us “roughing it in Africa,” as we were offered bowls of hot water to wash our hands and were invited in to have tea. “Tea” was just a thermos–pronounced “sermos” by the “waiter,” thus renaming the well-loved object of childhood sack lunches. We then had a dinner of cucumber soup (first course), beefless beef stew, boiled potatoes, cabbagge, green oranges (green peels, inside the same, and I’m still confused as to why they’re called “oranges.” TIA) and avacadoes. Then we hit the sack after some chatting and another “sermos” of hot water, which you could mix teabags, coffee powder, powdered milk, milo–a sort of super ovaltine of “the energy food drink of future champions”–cocoa, and sugar. End Day David Morelli

Day Two, Wednesday
We awoke, to our noise porter’s radios playing “Snoop Dog” and other “great” american musicians. But even before that, our south African friends came shaking our tents telling us to come up adn look at Kili with no clouds covering it. Paul, our only morning person, went and saw the Great view during these eraly hours. We started the days with “your Hot tea is ready”. Each morning and eveing our hot tea was served. For breakfast we had hot porage, toasted bread with all the condiments, sauage, eggs, canalope, and the best papiea! Tadie, our guide, wanted to leave at 9, so as early morning wegeners’ we left at 9:35. This morning started out pretty cold since the clouds had not risen but as the sun rose we started getting hott. Today we were suppose to hike 2 hours then lunch, but instead it took about 3 hours. [At first we felt slow but as the trip continued we realized time to Tadie meant nothing. {For instants, conversation: “Tadie, when we reach camp?” Tadie says,”Five minutes, sura.” We reached camp about two hours later.}] The climbing today was alot different than day one. We were in the desert climate and we were climbing on rock! In the first half hour, we gained adlest 500ft of vertical… to say the least we had a steep climb. We stopped about half way to lunch and climbed on a rock for the greatest view!

We could see our camp but even better the whole mountain and valleys and it was great! We continued on our treck until we reached our lunch area. David had slipped behinded over the last 200 yrds, we discovered at lunch it was because he was having alttitude sickness. We will just say over the day he couldn’t hold much in. David was a trooper though. He finished out the day strong until he was able to crash for the night. After Lunch, we had quit the scarry shock! Dad was walking along a reven and “decided” to fall. I heard a WHOA WHOA and then saw my dad fall about 15 ft. Luckly, he had his pack on and he didn’t hit his head. But he hit his kindey area pretty hard to where he has a huge “colorful” Bruise! After that shock of the dad, we continued to camp. After Five and Half hours of climbing we reached camp. We are in the budget area which is reserved away from every area of any other group. We found our South African crew again, and Dad was enthrawed by there cool map. They told us that they were going to wake up the rest of us who didn’t see the view tom at 4:30. I replied with “No you won’t, I’m Grumpy.” So, for the rest of the Trek, they referred to me as Grumpy…on every meeting I got “Hey Grumpy”, to which everyone thought it was harilous.
We drank our tea and pop corn as our cook prepared dinner (please remember, we are roughing it.”) Dinner follow with vegtable soup, bread loafs, rice, beef stew, greens (this was the first thing that ryan didn’t scrap the dish with), green organes, and gaucamoe… with our hot tea in our “sermes” after dinner. Dinner didn’t quit make it with David but we all hit the sack for another cold night on the rocky soil.

Day 3, Thursday:
Same ole same ole this morning.. for the exception of being an hour late on the trek. Tadie told us we had about six hours. We had slept at 3950 meters that night and would reach 4500 meters to Climatize. Basically, the purpose today was to get acclamated with the allitude and then slept at the same height as we did the second night. We climed for about 3.5 hours before lunch. David really struggled today being so weak and dehydrated. He was a real sport to not complain and keep going. We spent an hour at the top “climatizing”. David and Wayma (assistant guide) went on the porters way which is just 1.5 hours down hill to camp. Ryan, Dad, Pk, and V(me) followed Tadie to the Lava Tower which would be as high as any of us would have ever been. I had my first break down on the way. My head was pounding and after hitting my knees and crying, we still kept going (no Mercy). We made it though. After Ryan and Pk climbing on the Lava Tower we started our desend that should take about two hours. We basically climbed down every inch of the height we had gained earlier that day. This afternoon is got pretty cold. As we finally Spotted camp, we also spotted the trail we would be doing in the morning. It was striaght up bear walk for about 1,500 ft.

We def were looking forward to Friday! After starting our Motrin IV we drank our tea and dinner. The south Africans invited us to the “Rave” at 7:30 at there camp, unfortunately we weren’t able to make it due to lack of sleep.

Day Four, Friday:
As I said, we were really looking forward to this trek! We left camp on time at 9 am. We decided the ground was getting harder each night. But we continued never the less. It took us about 1 hour and 45 minutes to travel the 1,500 ft of vertical! We were quit impressed. Today, we were traveling to 4500 meters which is about 15,000 feet. We also were leaving the “7 dayer trekers”. It was kind of a frusterating thing. We would climb up and then climbing down into a valley, this went on about 3 times. IN our last valley before lunch…. we could do the straight up route or the around route, we did the straight up route with our “poli poli attitude” which means slowly slowly Africa no hurry mountian. We made it in 30 minutes… ate a quick lunch left the “7 dayers camp” and started hiking. We hiked a side of the mountian for about two hours. We all were starting to feel the loss of Oxygen! For the next two hours we took a five minute break every 30 mins. It was all we could do to keep going. The cloud had set in and it was cold. We finally could see camp except it was 500 ft of vertical a way. Struggling every step of the way we made it to 15000ft! It was cold. We had a quick meal and they ran down how the next 12 hours would play out. They put us to bed early because we would be awake at 11:30 that night to make the summit! I (V) had decided that I didn’t even want to attempt the summit and would stay in “bed”. Dad, David, and I were feeling pretty low and crumpy. Ryan, the purest was fine and Pk just complained about the lack of Oxygen as we all did.

Day 5, Saturday:
11:30 Pm came early!!! Dad had convinced me to just try some of the climb. Later, I realized that you had to want it your self to make it to the summit. ONly in Africa you drink hot tea and cookies before you climb to the summitt, so we drank up. We left in every warm artical of clothing we had. We had moon light as our guide and Tadie and Wayme. I follow Tadie with PK taking the Caboos. About 300ft out of camp (about an hour) dad started vomitting and needing breaks. Finally after falling over, he told us to go on. Wayme and Dad tried to keep going behind us but after making 15ft in 10 minutes with 5 falls inbewteen with the last hitting his head, he made the decision to turn around. After an hour he reached camp and fell in his sleeping bag still dressed with his boots. The Five of us COntinued. We had no idea until climbing down in day light how steep the mountain was. We climbed about 2 more hours in silence of deep breathing. Finally, I gave in to a water break and catch your breathe. You wouldn’t think you would need a break when travel 2mph but you did, trust me. We traveled higher and higher. Our mental states told us to turn around as many people around us were, but we continued. I was the first to want to turn around. I would fall to my knees out of breath and sick but the guys would pick me up and group hug me to stop the shivering and make me continue. Paul starting around 18500 ft blurred vision and had to stop frequently. We continued as best as we could. Wayme, aka the Beast, caught up to us starting two hours after us. When i saw him I begged him to take me down, instead he said following me POLi poli. We followed wayme until pual about 100 feet down “Blacked out”. Ryan said it was best he should go down. SO Wayme decided to take Paul down, at this I jumped at the opportunity to go down. We headed down and retured to camp aroudn 8 or 9 in the morning and literally feel into our tents with our boots. Tadie, David, and Ryan continued! Our strong heros! I’m not sure about what happened next, BUt i do know they made it to Stella’s Point which is the top then had a two hour trek in the snow to the summit. And they made it! 20000 ft!!! Congrates guys. They took many photos on dad’s orders. Dad, back at camp, waited for the guys. Ryan came in first, followed by david and Tadie. One of the first things they said was that Tadie pulled the “Sermes” and tea out of his pack at the top of the mountian and they stopped for two cups! Only in Africa! TIA! We were more than pround of them. We all agreed that this trek was the hardest thing mentally and physically that we had ever down. The only thing we could think of was Dad and David’s two a day football work outs… but they said that wasnt even close though. We all ate lunch and packed up and started our descent. We descending for about three or four hours. Ryan and David were moving slow, rightly so. They had hardly gotten to sleep at all. But they continued willingly. We were glad that we were going down hill and not up again. We stayed in camp at around 2900 meters (one meter is 3 ft and 9 inches for conversion). As we continued down, our breathing was so much better, the air got thinker and our heads lighter. We drank our tea and ate dinner- thankfully the last dinner of soup, rice, vegatable medly, fruits, bread, and our famous “sermes”. We went to bed at 9:40 and slept the best we have the whole trip!

Day six, Sunday:
It sure is the Lord’s day! He let us return safely. We all wanted to stay in our tents and sleep but we realized in four long hours we would be at the gate in the car! After breakfast, we gathered everyone for a group picture! (All five of us, Tadie, Wayme, the cook, the waiter, and the 11 porters)

We tipped everyone and dad gave his boots to the porter who had to carry his 500 lb pack, this is the crazy part…. instead of carrying like it was made as a hiking backpack, he carried it on top of his head. I wish you could see how much some of these porters carry and then how fast they go! Its insane! Finally Paul and I made i down in 2hours and 40 minutes with the others about 1 and half hours later. We all signed the book and headed to Kindorko Hotel. We all are sore and never ever want to do it again! I don’t think any of us reccommend it! We did meet alot of great and interesting people though, but Im sure you can meet them other places too! We showered and ate and interneted the rest of the day! Africa had been Great! I hope I have described everything well. It will be all better when each indivual gives there opinion and description on the great mt Kilimonjaro! Praise God we are all alive!

By:Virginia Wegener, once again, I didn’t have time to make all my spelling and grammer corrections… its summer!

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