Mt. Kilimanjaro south side view from our lodge which is 2 hours away!
Jambo! (Swahili for hello!) And so it begins! Our team arrived over the past two days and we gathered for our first team meeting as we met each other and prepared for our pending adventure. We have a young couple from Seattle, a family of 6 from Iowa, a woman from Southern California (my roomie!) and me. Admittedly a little nervous, we listened to our guide, Dave Hahn, share itinerary plans, packing advice, cultural expectations, and encouragement in anticipation of Day 1 on the mountain. I climbed a viewing tower on the grounds of the lodge at sunset and gazed at the large mountain pushing up from the clouds. “Lord have mercy, what have I gotten myself into”, I prayed!
The day was spent mostly packing our stuff and resting. After an equipment check and weighing our bags to make sure we were not over the 33 pounds limit we then read, napped or whatever best helped our bodies overcome jet lag. The weight limit is because the porters who carry our bags are not only carrying their own stuff on their backs but they haul our bags on their heads! Thus the weight limit.
Surprisingly there are hundreds of people on the lower mountain with us. It will thin out the further up the mountain we go. There are about 5-6 routes to the top but we are going the Machame Route. It starts out on the west side of the mountain and then meanders along the south side and we will eventually summit from the east. But our first day we will climb for 5-6 hours and cover 4000′ of elevation ending at 9890′. It will be a nice slow pace.
Our outfitter is Barking Zebra and they are providing 50 local people to support us up the mountain! That seems like a lot of people for a team of 11 but these are good jobs that help the local economy out. I’m sure I will be grateful for every one of them by the time we are done! We will have 30-35 porters, 5 guides, 2 cooks, 4-5 camp guys that set up camp each night, 3 waiters that serve dinner and a poor latrine guy that carries and sets up 2 latrines at each camp. Clearly low guy on the totem pole gets that job!
But here we are this morning. The weather has been a little drizzly but rain coats are starting out in the backpack! But we do start in a rain forest so it is typical. After a hearty breakfast (which I don’t normally eat) and a 2 hour bus ride to the park gate we are ready to get moving. After registering our group on the mountain we are finally on our way!
I don’t know when I’ll be able to write again and adding pictures is a challenge so you may get word pictures along the way. But words fail me now describing what it feels like to actually be starting a dream in real life. My prayer that keeps pouring off my tongue over and over is God be with us! I have no doubt God will be.