Mount Kilimanjaro, Day 2: Shira I (3610m)
We started the day with an amazing breakfast- I’m really shocked at how good the food was that we ate on this trip. Cereal, porridge, fruit, hot drinks, eggs.. truly exceptional. Part of me wonders if it would taste as good if we were in a normal eating facility, not a tent on the side of the mountain, but honestly I think it would be good anywhere. One friend repeatedly exclaimed that it was 5-star quality.
The Crew, taking in the rolling hills
We got above the tree line today! I wouldn’t say there was such a stark line where it was obvious we were exiting the forest, but suddenly you realize that you’re surrounded by small bushes instead of jungle. This part of the mountain felt very much like rolling hills- absolutely beautiful scenery. We did have some intermittent rains, but fortunately I brought my trusty poncho with me so nothing got too wet. It was far from a downpour, so we all were fine and wouldn’t have to remain soggy for the remainder of the trip.
Me with (the theoretical) Kili Peak
As we were approaching Shira I, the hills gave away to a plateau. If you weren’t paying attention, you could believe that we hadn’t been hiking all day. After we got over that ridge, we were told we would see Kilimanjaro. I still hadn’t seen it since arriving, and a small part of me had begun to doubt it’s existence, though I had seen it from the plane months before. Unfortunately it was still cloudy so we couldn’t see it. Regardless, I was enjoying myself whether or not the mountain was actually there.
I have to say that our group was absolutely fantastic- I knew 5 before starting (all Doris Duke fellows based somewhere in Africa), and 3 were also med students from the US who were friends with other fellows. The key to success on this mountain is being able to enjoy the journey and be happy with the people you’re spending time with. This group made that very easy.
The Crew at Shira I
I for some reason thought it would be a good idea to bring back a classic game called Star Wars- you link your hands with fingers out and try to touch your opponent with “the lightsaber” (your finger). I did battle with the 2 other guys on the trip (Nick and Steve), and while managing to emerge victorious I also realized that ~12,000 feet makes even basic tasks feel exhausting. I felt like I could barely breathe for 5 minutes afterward.
After a delicious meal (likely lasagna but not 100% sure) and some euchre, the clouds had cleared. There was just enough moon to illuminate the peak while little enough that stars were visible. I would have played around more if it weren’t so cold, but even my Midwestern blood was chilled by the cutting wind. Still got a few decent shots!