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  • Niki Harry

Conquering Kilimanjaro - Day 4

Updated: Apr 23, 2019

Elevation: Start at 12,950 ft to 14,950 then back down to 12,950 ft at Barranco camp

Another night of hell for me. My head was pounding & I felt nauseated even after the oxygen and Tylenols last night. I barely slept all night. This was now a whole week for me that I had not slept more then an hour or two without interruption. Not sure how I was even climbing the mountain at this point. Today was my worst morning. I felt like total crap and I had thoughts of giving up. Not sure why I was doing this and if it was worth going through this suffering just to climb to the top of a mountain. My medical check was fine but they made me take two more Tylenols. Eliakim PROMISED me that it would all change by end of day today and that I would feel great by the time we got to camp tonight, because tonight we go back down to 12,850 ft. After being at 15,000ft by lunch and then going down to sleep, it would acclimatize us. I wasn’t so sure I believed him at this point.

Then the usual, 8:50am group photo and hike start at 9.

This morning, he also would not allow me to carry my pack as the first part of the hike was very steep and straight up for the first hour or two. He explained that every bit of extra weight makes a difference. I had a huge issue with this and did not want him to carry it. But he’s the lead guide and we have to do what he says. He won. He also gave me an energy boost, a hit of the magic white powder (pure glucose) but we jokingly referred to it as “Kili cocaine”.

Here is Eliakim carrying my pack on the front of him, with his pack on his back. Moir camp is way in the background, cleared of all tents and the porters almost packed and ready to follow.

Soon I had more energy and the nausea eventually subsided, but the headache was still brutal. With every step and every heart pump, it pounded in my head as well. John still had pressure and a small headache as well and he was taking Tylenols. Monica was not having a good time today either. She ended up with a brutal nosebleed and she also needed a hit of “Kili cocaine”.

These guys each carried two heavy packs and can walk, talk and sing and have no issues breathing. The whole group at this point was extremely impressed with the Tusker guides and porters. The guides are extremely amazing, their care and attention, their knowledge of the medications and the mountain safety – top notch! They want you to succeed and they will ensure you do but only with safety in mind and safety being top priority.

Alan you are too funny with your umbrella but very smart as the sun is way too strong up here!

Today was the first time that we climbed above the clouds. Surreal views! We got clear views of Mt. Meru peeking above the clouds.

As we were getting close to Lava Tower, around 15,000 ft, the weather started turning again and it got real foggy and cloudy. Actually I never knew the difference, was it fog or were we in cloud?? The big rock up ahead is Lava Tower where we would be at 15,000 ft and stopping for our break. There we stopped for lunch and to help our bodies acclimatize. I was dying and my head was still pounding. Two more Tylenols and a promise that in a couple of hours it would all be over.

Right after lunch, even more clouds and fog rolled in and very quickly at that, so we all scrambled to get going before it rained on us. Luckily it was ice pelleting again and we managed to stay dry and eventually the clouds passed.

We scrambled and climbed down through the rock crevices and I suddenly noticed that within an hour I started to feel much better and my headache was basically gone – finally!

Then suddenly, we came down through a beautiful valley full of the so called “Dr Seuss” trees or formally called the Giant Senecio’s.

​We saw our first Malachite Sunbird. It was a male and absolutely beautiful. Then Eliakim snuck up behind the plant and cupped his hands and managed to grab the bird! It was unreal! This bird just sat in his hands and didn’t even struggle. After taking a ton of pictures, he let it go unharmed.

We followed the valley through the trees which is beautifully set up on a ridge at the foot of the Barranco wall – what we will be climbing tomorrow.

​This is also where some other trail routes converge. There were tons of other climbers and when we saw the Barranco camp it took our breath away. Kibo peak at one side, the famous, and I might add, scary Barranco wall on the other, and the camp situated right at the edge of a cliff overlooking the plains and Moshi town below. Hundreds of porters and climbers and a sea of tents already set up. And the view to die for! It was cloudy but looked like an ocean below us.

As we approached camp, we were told there were real bathrooms in these new buildings! Us girls were way too excited and a couple of us ran. Well, surprise, surprise!

Even though it was a very tough day and many of us felt awful, we had a lot of fun coming down through the valley and taking a million photos with the trees and what we called “Whoville”. A really nice reward after such a tough day.

Once we settled in and changed, the sun started to go down and created a beautiful view for us. The clouds started clearing and we wandered around camp taking it all in.

​Then the same camp routine. Medical check. My numbers were fine and Eliakim told me that I wasn’t in any danger, it was all normal, but he still gave me 15 minutes of oxygen to ensure I had no issues for tomorrow’s big wall climb. I felt amazing later at dinner and had bounds of energy for the first time on this trip. Took the last two Tylenols at bed just to ensure the headache is completely gone for tomorrow. John finally got rid of all his symptoms today as well and he did not get oxygen at all. He was back to normal by bedtime – which was another very early night – 8:30pm!

Once the clouds cleared, the shimmering lights of Moshi below us were absolutely stunning. The stars were even brighter tonight and there was a full moon. I was so bummed that I had no way of taking a good nighttime photo but I tried handheld anyway, and this was the best I could do. And ... day 4 down? Continue reading about our Day 5 Kilimanjaro hike.

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