Kilimanjaro Day 2 – I Have to Walk How Long?

  • Journey: From Big Tree Camp to Shira Camp 1
  • Hours Walked: 5
  • Starting Elevation: 3,250 m
  • Highest Elevation for the Day: 4,200 m
  • Final Elevation for the Day: 3,900 m

We set off after breakfast on day 2, at around 8:30 am.  Despite my shock after the 2 hour hike of the day before, I was feeling refreshed since I had slept well.  So imagine my further shock a few minutes in when I asked how far today’s walk would be and Elly told me 4 to 5 hours.  My resolution to not sweat as much as I had the day before immediately went out the window.

Truthfully, although the walk on day 2 was long, it was quite nice.  We went polepole, as we would for the entire 8 days.  As we walked, I learned that my best route to success on this mountain was to:

1) Eat everything put in front of me in order to build up my energy reserves.  This was a struggle for me at first since it meant eating 3 substantial meals each day, each one loaded with carbohydrates, of which I normally don’t eat a lot.  I usually eat a light breakfast, a heavy lunch and a very light dinner or snack.  Eating big 3 times each day plus an afternoon snack was asking a lot but, as Elly would ask me a few times before I finally got it, “Do you know where you are going?  You don’t and I do.  Eat.”

2) Drink lots of water.  This was easy.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I had been training myself in copious water drinking for several weeks and this paid off handsomely on my hike.  I drank 3 to 4 litres of water each day, not including Milo at breakfast, juice box at lunch and Milo at popcorn time.  And my bladder held up like a champion.  Only on one day’s hike (the unforgettable day 4) did I have to stop once to pee.

3) Go polepole.  I think after a few days on the route, all of the porters, guides and other hikers who passed us thought my name was polepole.  They would pass quickly, calling out a cheerful “Polepole!” and be gone with a wave.  I didn’t care.  This was a marathon, not a sprint, and I wasn’t competing against anyone or anything but the mountain.

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Eating my bagged lunch on day 2. I felt as tired as I looked.

Day 2 was uneventful except for the rain.  There was a light shower so navigating the slippery, muddy paths got a little tricky at times.  My rain jacket looked really cool though, and the umbrella Elly had advised me to purchase on the way to the gate on day 1 came in handy to keep my backpack and its contents dry.  My pants, not so much.  They got wet above my gaiters (about from the knee up) but James was kind enough to dry them for me in the kitchen tent that night.  When I got them back the next morning, they were deliciously warm and dry…and smelled like dinner.

Day 2 set a precedence that would continue for the next 5 days; about 20 or 30  minutes before we got to camp, 2 of our porters appeared, took our backpacks and strolled back into camp with us, polepole of course.  They had arrived hours earlier, set up the tents and organised our campsite. I cannot tell you what a relief it was (and what great customer service!) to have someone carry my burden, light as it was, at the end of a hard day.  I got to the point where I would keep an eye out for 1 of our porters the closer we got to camp.  Would it be Robson and Tumaini today?  Or would it be Aron?  It didn’t matter.  I was happy to see whoever it was.

Again, a carb-heavy dinner, check of oxygen level and heart rate, a brief outline of our journey for the next day and day 2 was over.  By this point, I was beginning to get an inkling that this was more than a birthday challenge but I wouldn’t fully grasp that for 2 more days.

I read my Bible, prayed and was out like a light in minutes.

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