Kilimanjaro Day 2: Exponential

My adventure continues as the sun rises on day 2. Yesterday was a bit of a shock but I have come to terms with the fact we are climbing a mountain here. Waking up surprisingly refreshed we get ready for day 2; still taking care as we groom and dress for the day ahead.

After breakfast, the camp is quickly broken down by the team.  In the light of day, it is clear we have left the cloud forest. The trees are smaller and the vegetation is beginning to thin. A cool mist is moving in as we venture out from the camp. In front of us is a ridge that runs up into the clouds, in the distance we can see some groups already on their way up the ridge to the next camp as we set off.

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Today we are going half the distance, it is only about 5 km to our next camp but we are traveling up nearly 1000 meters. Yesterday I thought it was a mistake to not read the guidebook entry on the day’s route but after reading today’s entry I think ignorance may have been better. The book reveals a path to Shira camp that is best described as “exponential”. As we exit the campsite we find the base of a rocky ridge it is already significantly steeper than most of the climb yesterday. What little I remember from calculus tells me that today will be interesting

So our trek up continues. The ridge thins and twists around and up leading to false summit after false summit. As expected the path grows exponentially steeper as we climb. This path is lined with boulders some of which require careful footing to navigate around while others require scrambling up with all limbs working together.  

It is different from yesterday’s climb, while it was natural it was also well manicured, with stairs cut into the path to help with the assent. Today the only evidence of the path is that in some places there really isn’t another way to go.

As the mist turns into light rain. It is cold and wet and we keep climbing. We find shelter for lunch in a small cave about halfway to our destination although in our case it was well after 1:00.  Lunch and some warm tea is a welcome distraction.  Sadly the downside of stopping and resting is that only gives the cold a chance to take hold. After lunch, the dampness continues and so does the increasingly steep path but we forge on.

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At some points, we are literally climbing the rock face to climb higher.  All this rock hopping is exhausting.  I can’t help but stop to catch my breath. This 5 km seems to be an eternity.  Even though it is half the distance we traveled the day before it has taken as long to wind our way up this ridge. When we finally reach the real summit, rising above the mist, we find ourselves on a plateau. There are no more trees, just clumps of grass and low lying shrubs. One could imagine that looking down from the Plateau you would be able to see all we had accomplished so far. The rocky ridge or stunning cloud forest?

Sadly neither is visible. The entire vista is taken up by the thick mist we just walked through.  On the brighter side of things at least we are clearly above it now. We arrive at Shira camp in the late afternoon and we are soaked.  The rain has tormented us most of the way so we seek shelter in our tents. A warm dinner helps us forget our difficult uphill slog in the cold rain. We have successfully completed day 2 and it feels good.

Total Distance traveled: 5 km

Total Altitude gain: 960 m

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