African Adventure (Part 2)
By Chuck Singer
At this point in
the trip, Judi had to return home, but I still had 5 weeks left, so I headed
I was grabbed by a
local tout as I got off the bus. His name was Job and many people here have Biblical
names as it was Christian rather than Muslim area as in
has always been a symbol of
Day 1 Walked up 7 hrs Gained 5200ft elevation
Day 2 Walked up 3 hrs Gained 2800ft elevation
Day 3 Walked up 7 hrs Gained 2200ft elevation
Day 4 Walked up 7 hrs Gained 1700ft elevation
Day 5 Walked up 11 hrs Gained 4500ft elevation; Walked down 4 hrs Lost 9000ft elevation
Day 6 Walked down 3 hrs Lost 3500ft elevation
There were about 100 people climbing the Machame trail with 250 porters. The rich people had 3 porters/person and we had 5 for the 3 of us plus one guide. The rich had chairs and tables & personal pit toilets while we sat on rocks and went into the most disgusting toilets I've seen in a while. They were open 3 sided boxes with a 6X8" hole cut in the floor and a lot of people missed! The porters carried everything on their heads as well as a small backpack, for $25/trip and tips ($35 for us) $60 for 6 days. The food was good and sufficient so I was never hungry, just exhausted. Typically we would breakfast at 7:30am and be walking by . We would eat lunch at or where ever since we were carrying it, then continued to camp that had been set up by the porters. The first three days it rained and spit snow by and got into the 40's at night.
Each day as I crawled into camp, I wasn't sure I could finish the climb but I didn't want to quit. This was physically the hardest thing I have ever tried. Some of the trail was good and some steep and rocky similar to Nankoweep on the GC. Day 4 was a heartbreaker because it was up and down all day and you HATE to give up elevation. Day 5 started at with no sleep as I was nervous and we were camped at 15,295ft. The first part was steep and bad and then it just stayed bad. The air was crystal clear and the stars were intense. Moshi was a bright blob far below. My steps now were now a slow one at a time with a 12" stride if I was lucky. I looked up occasionally and saw other headlamps far above me high into the Stygian (I always wanted to use that word!) darkness finally merging with the stars. When will it ever end? I had been walking for 5 days now on the fine edge of Pukesville and I was too close to quit but my body was ready to hang it up. At , I reached the edge of the summit and watched the sunrise turn Eagle glacier from black to pink to red to blue and then I crept over to the true summit, Uhuru at . Many people were still climbing up as I headed down at . The trail down was volcanic ash that you walked/skied down but it was exhausting on your quadriceps.
After an hour of that, I was exhausted and thirsty since I had had nothing to eat and only 1 liter of water during the climb and descent. I toppled over to some shade and was eating some snow when group of American MD's came down with extra water and glucose concentrate. That was enough of a jolt to get me the 4 miles back to camp. I drank some water but couldn't eat as I was nauseous. I laid in my tent for two hours and then started wet coughing (AMS pulmonary edema) We then descended from 15,000 to 9000ft and I was better. My quads were so bad I used both hiking sticks as canes down the rocky steps, only falling a few times. The final day was more of the same.
I consequently lost my right big toe nail as I forgot to trim it before the descent and I also acquired a couple of small blisters, but my quads suffered the most. I stayed in Moshi for a few days to recover. I had taken some of my dog, Anna's ashes to the top of Kili but when I got there, I decided she didn't want to be any more volcanic ash, so I when I returned to the Serengeti I let her stay there. She will become part of the grass, then a wildebeest, then maybe a lion.
While I recovering from Kili in Moshi, I went out with a local kid to visit a village north of town. It was supposed to be scenic so why not! We took a dalla-dalla which is a minivan that holds more people than a clown car! Once there were 23 people in it and it was CROWDED. As the honored guest, I was allowed to be one of the 4 people in the front seat. We drove for 45 minutes on a good road and then started walking to a nice little waterfall of 50ft or so. Climbing up and down showed me I was not completely healed yet. We then walked to the "cave" which was a hole dug in the ground with a homemade ladder descending. At the bottom you crawled thru 100ft of 4ft diameter tunnel trying not to breathe in the flies or kneel on too many ants.
From there, we ate lunch which was very good but unidentifiable in parts. My favorite was a tennis ball like pastry that contained a whole hard boiled egg. We then went to his parent’s house where I met his Grandmother and sister. I asked why she wasn't in school and was told it was too expensive for them. Well, me and Bill Gates know the value of education so I underwrote the entire cost of her 6th grade tuition ($3). They wanted to feed me but there wasn't much food there except for bananas. It was a banana plantation. We then went for another hike up a big hill that had a Catholic shrine on the top. It was weird to see the stations of the cross in Swahili.
Returning to Moshi, I had supper at my new favorite place that serves barbequed goat (1# and 2 cokes $2). This place had 15 cats hanging around waiting for scraps. It also had two bad pool tables and one white face (if there were a mirror handy). But don't knock it if you haven't tried it.
At this point I
was feeling cocky again, so I was ready for the bus ride to
Jinja was a laid back place and I hooked up with
the Nile River Explorers for a raft trip on the
The company picked
you up at your hotel, fed you breakfast, lunch on the river and a really good
supper at their camp. And there was beer or pop on the bus. Camping was free
for that day, too. All this for $85. Back in