We See the Summit
4 miles to 13,000 ft. - 5½ hours before lunch
The first time we saw our tents up close in daylight at Baranco was in the morning. You can see the photo above of the semicircle of tents in the distance, and below is a closeup the next day.
The beginning of this day's hike was incredibly intimidating. We could see people as tiny as ants heading up what looked to us as a vertical cliff. Moses, our guide, assured me this was a normal trail and the verticality was an illusion, but my already queasy stomach flipped over when I thought about the trail.
It ended up being a normal width trail and relatively protected, but having the strongmen with the tents and supplies pass us was tricky in parts because we had to climb up steep sections of rock on occasion. It was particularly hard to find a private place to vomit, which is important thing at high altitudes. It would not be until later that night that I would admit to myself that the last 4 days of stomach issues was probably bacterial and I would decide to take antibiotics which would miraculously work as prescribed.
The trail itself reminded us of many places we had been before. Parts of the trail looked like the White Mountains of New Hampshire during the summer, and sometimes it resembled the hill walks in misty Scotland. Other areas were so open and seemed to go on forever, reminding us of photos of mountainous areas of Iceland. The general commonality was rocks, rocks, lichen, and rocks.
Party at Karanga
Every day I was sick, I told myself I had to keep going at least to Karanga because that is where we would have our party. I had to show up to that! Party number three for our group, this one was for us celebrating our wedding anniversary. This celebration was a bit different than the last two nights. The last two nights were for birthdays. Of course all end with cake, but the songs that they sing at each of the parties are different.
One thing the celebrations had in common was someone in costume as the celebrated person. The first birthday, they made masks to wear, where the masks were that of the man celebrating his birthday. For ours, a guy pretended to be pregnant to symbolize that he was a woman, which I must admit is a pretty distinguishing feature between men and women. It is probably good he used this as the disguise because his goatee was not in my likeness.
For our party, they also made us cards so we were able to bring home something special from the trip. And as we had done traditionally each night, we ate half the cake and sent the other half back to the cooks and the strongmen so that they could have a treat as well.
The Next Morning
We really did not know Mount Meru was right there until the next morning when the sun rose. The same stands true for the mountain peak behind us. Though a bit crowded, we did not feel like we were as crowded as Shira and we finally had someone guarding our bathroom all night to make sure only we used it.
Remid showed us Mbogo (cape buffalo) bones that had been gathered from the valley about three years previous. They were placed on display on a rock so visitors could learn about the wildlife on the mountain even though we would never see them. Elephants also climb high on the mountain to lick the rocks to get the minerals from them. They have licked for so many years that they have formed caves on the mountain. A certain IMAX film presents elephant bones on the mountain and the mystery as to why he had climbed to that point, but it was probably to lick the rocks which they did not mention in the movie. Sure, the bit made a great mystery for the film, but we thought it was even more interesting that they could lick rocks to form a cave. Of course we are not Hollywood.
Remid also did a short 'nature walk' with me where we identified different flowering plants in the area. This was one of the last days where we would see this before the summit. It was little touches like this that made the trip that much more valuable and interesting to us. Having someone running the trip that identified your interests and sharing in those was incredibly special and unique.