Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Day 03 (Shira Cave Camp to Barranco Camp)
Happy New Year!
I’ve got a feeling fifteen is going to be a good year.
Especially if you and me see it in together.
I woke up at 06:15, got ready, had some hot chocolate (“Milo” – a Nestle concoction made for the African market) and coffee, and then I ate breakfast (porridge, pineapple slices, toast with jam, a fried egg, and a hot dog). Next I finished packing my bag and helped some to pack up the camp. When my guide had checked out with the ranger, we were ready to go. We left Shira Cave Camp some time after 09:00 and soon moved up out of the moorland and in to the alpine desert; the rain soaked ground was frozen over and there were some nice ice crystals formed along a dry creek bed. We first moved through a landscape full of brown-blackish boulders, most of which had light green, golden colored moss hanging from its sides; then the clouds moved in and took away my view of Kilimanjaro. We then approached Lava Tower (a tall butte next to the mountain), reaching its campsite at 10:30, which is at an elevation of 4,630 meters (820 meters higher than from where I started today). After passing through the campsite, we then walked between two tall rock formations, naturally designed to resemble a gate and descended past a couple of streams before reentering the moorland. We hiked down, alongside a creek in a rocky area with many giant senecio trees, through the mist, before finally coming to Barranco Camp at about 11:30 (at an elevation of 3,976 meters, 166 meters higher than from where I started and 654 meters lower than the high point of Lava Tower today); just before reaching camp, we joined up with our porter, who had taken the shortcut that bypasses Lava Tower. After signing in at the ranger station, I had my boxed lunch which consisted of a jam sandwich, a hard boiled egg, an orange slice, a banana, cookies, a muffin, a chicken wing, and a mango juice – I ate everything except the chicken and later told my guide that I didn’t want to eat anymore chicken (bacteria scares me). After finishing my lunch, I found our campsite and was pleased to see the tent was already set up; I entered inside the tent and then relaxed, rehydrated, and typed away journal entries on my iPhone. It rained at 14:30 and continued on and off for the next couple of hours; once again, this proves how important it is to start hiking early and to end around noon, lest ye wishith to become drenched. I tried to sleep during this time, but no luck there, and I tried to capture cloud free photos of Mount Kilimanjaro, but no luck there either. Near 19:00, I was served my dinner; first I had a black pepper and cucumber soup with dumplings filled with ground chicken; then I had corkscrew pasta with a bowl of tomato sauce mixed with diced vegetables; lastly, I had two slices of pineapple; to drink, I had powdered milk and then hot chocolate. During dinner, most of the clouds dissipated from Mount Kilimanjaro and we were finally given a grand view (I put my dinner on hold to take some photos) – evidently, the only time we’re afforded a clear view of the mountain is during night and early morning; forget trying to see it during the day. After dinner, I refilled my camelback same as yesterday. At night, the moon was shining brightly enough that there was no point in using my headlamp; also, the stars were clearly visible and the lights from Moshi could be seen from here. In the night sky, I did see what looked like a shooting star, but it moved slower than any I had witnessed before and once it lost its brightness, I could still make out a dim light moving onward – perhaps it was a satellite that “flared up” for a moment, reflecting the sun’s rays, before becoming a dim speck again? Finally, I went to sleep for the night.