I was inside my tent by 8pm last night and tried to listen to a podcast before going to sleep, but I ended up passing out a few minutes later still wearing my jacket, fleece and head scarf. My sleeping bag is really warm and I usually end up sleeping stripped down when camping, but I guess I underestimated how cold it really was in Barranco Camp that I woke up in the morning still completely dressed.
I ate two portions of porridge for breakfast to try and support the Diamox in my system. I didn’t feel ill at all but the tips of my fingers and toes were definitely tingly. We had a very long hike to Lava Tower and I was definitely catching my breath the first three hours. The landscape was open but everyone trekked in a single file to keep apace and to ensure we weren’t going so fast. No matter how much I reminded myself pole-pole, my lungs felt how thin the air was.
Lava Tower didn’t look much when we were approaching it, but as soon as we rounded a bend it mightily stood over us. For the first time in our hike, we saw a running trail of glacial water coming from Kibo. There was unfortunately more trash on the trail because the route meets with the more popular Marangu Route and the path climbers use to scale Kibo.
We had lunch in the shadow of Lava Tower. The rocks were black and sharp–we would see more of them as we escalate closer to the summit. After eating, we walked downhill and finally depended on our walking poles.
We kept stopping to take photos because the view ahead of us was just incredible. We walked by a waterfall and a beautiful ravine right under Kibo. We could see the porters cutting through another mountain ahead of us. They were like ants in one file with heavy load on top of their heads. I was grateful for their help; I couldn’t have hiked this high if I had to carry more than 3 liters of water and my change of clothes for the day.
Closer to Barranco Camp, the landscape started to look like the moon–barren and eerie with these giant trees that looked like Where the Wild Things Are feet. Samuel told us that the taller ones were at least 150 years old. There were also these succulent plants that were wet and cool to the touch. They turned out to be anti-freeze plants. It was cool to put your hands in between the aloe-like layers and feel the cold sensation in your fingers.
Samuel pointed at the gray wall to our left when we were approaching Barranco Camp. That’s Barranco Wall, he said, and we will climb that tomorrow morning. Through where? I asked, because I couldn’t see a trail that led up to it. He just waved his hand up to say, Just up.