Kilimanjaro Day 1: Forest Camp

Elevation: 8692′ or 2650 meters

Today, we began our Kilimanjaro trek.  We also had our first good view of the mountain.  It was amazing.  I had no idea that the mountain would have such a prominent snow cap.  And, it appeared as amassive of a mountain as I ever seen excluding Denali.

The day started at Ndarakwai Ranch.  We had breakfast, weighed our gear that the porters would be carrying.  My gear that a porter would be carrying weighed 12 kilos.  The porters are not allowed to carry more than 15 kilos of a climber’s gear.  So, I was cool.  I went ahead and weighed my daypack and it weighed 10 kilos.  That’s nice and light.

Rules of the game

From Ndarakwai Ranch we were taken to the Kilimanjaro Ranger station where we each registered and all park fees were paid.  Bernard, our head guide handled the park fees and registration.  We just had to sign a roster.  We stayed at the ranger station for about an hour.

After all the legalities were handled, we headed to the trail-head which was about an hour drive through some heavily rutted dirt road.  Without the Thomson safari range rover trucks, we would not have made it through this dirt road to our destination.  I could only handle an hour of this drive before I started to get motion sickness. Riding on that road was like being on a boat in rough seas.  I felt seasick!

Trail-head - Lemosho trail

We arrived at the trail-head at approximately 12:30.  We had lunch and then hit the thickly forested trail.

I must tell you that the Thomson Safari team is amazing.  The guides and porters are top notch.  I am so impressed by their organization and execution.  I am so impressed.  Everything has been so well-thought out and executed.  Thomson runs a great operation with a crew of amazing people.

Our lunch consisted of baked chicken, cold pizza, small yellow bananas, small cheese sandwiches, hot tea, coffee, juice and water.  The table was setup for us and we were catered to very well.  I felt spoiled and a bit ashamed at how pampered we were.

We hit the trail somewhere around 2:00pm.  The introduction to the kili trek was not for the faint of heart as the trail started off very steeply like walking up a staircase.  Unfortunately, the trail proved too difficult for a 75 year old judge from Pennsylvania.  Twenty minutes into the hike he had to withdraw from the trek as he fell three times.  Old age is so heartless.

The elevation at the trailhead was approximately 7400 feet.  The trail steadily climbed until we reached Forest Camp at 8692 feet.  The weather was pleasant with cool breezes sweeping over us at just the right moments, adding comforting relief.

The trails was well-defined offering beautiful scenery.

My group’s guide is named Sunday.  He is a very pleasant, amicable 35 year old man.  He led us at a slow but comfortable pace all the way to Forest Camp.

Sunday gettin down

Sunday is married and has two children, a boy and a girl.  I cannot remember his son’s name but his daughter’s name stuck with me for whatever reason.  His daughter’s name is Harriot, a very pretty name.

When we arrived at the Forest Camp we were greeted by one of the most spectacular greetings as all of the porters (all 37) and the guides broke out into song and dance in Swahili.  I took a video of it and will post it on youtube.  It was awesome.

I have met some amazing people on this trip so far.  My fellow climbers are friendly and interesting people.  Among our group is a very pretty and intelligent cellular biologist named Naina.  There’s also a father and son duo, Larry and Mike.  They are good people people from the great state of Minnesota.  They are very warm and friendly.  There is also Ross, a very tall and friendly man.  He knows a good bit of about everything, it would seem.  Also, he has experienced a heck of a lot of adventures in his life time.  He is very knowledgeable of Africa, Tanzanian culture and wildlife.

There is also, Melinda, Francisco and Jason.  These guys are from the Bay area and are good friends that travel together frequently.  I haven’t gotten to know them well yet but can already tell that they are very friendly people.  Look forward to getting to know them more.

Tonight over dinner we discussed about every topic possible: politics, finances, real estate & Nancy Pelosi – the right wing extremist (according to Jason).  How did she get thrown into our conversation?

We had a briefing about tomorrow’s upcoming trek.  Tomorrow, we head to Shira Camp 1.  The hike is 6 to 7 hours and ends at an elevation of 11,500 feet.

Today was a pleasant hike but tomorrow, I think we will begin to experience the effects of high altitude.

I have not started taking diamox.  I’m going to play it by ear.  If I begin to feel uneasy I will then begin taking diamox.  If I can make it without diamox – all the better.  I would prefer not to take that medicine.

For dinner we had an excellent cucumber, tomato, avocado salad, spaghetti and some kind of bean soup.  I then ate three brownies.

During the briefing, Bernard measured our oxygen saturation and pulse.  My oxygen saturation was 86 and pulse was 83.  I’m now getting sleepy.

It is chilly and windy outside.  I’m in my tent writing this journal entry.

serval in an enclosure

Lastly, here’s my wildlife inventory:

  • 3 colobus monkeys: one on the Lemosha trail, 2 outside of the Kili ranger station.
  • 2 blue monkeys: on the Lemosha trail.
  • 2 servals: in an enclosure in Ndarakwai Ranch
  • 2 vervet monkeys in Ndarakwai Ranch
  • 4 bush bucks in Ndarakwai Ranch

Fire Plant

I saw these plants as well:

  • White mangoes: not for human consumption
  • impatiens Kilimanjari
  • Fire Flower

That’s it for now.



03/09/2011; 10:45pm

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