Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Kilimanjaro - Barranco Camp to Karanga Valley

Today was one of our shorter days thankfully.  I think we were all pretty spent from the climb and altitude of the previous day so this was a welcome change for us.  Although, it was a shorter day and we would actually eat our lunch at the next camp it was the day with the steepest climb for us… mainly Eric, who doesn’t do well with heights.  

Once again we had gorgeous, clear views of the peak above us when we awoke.  And, as usual we had fresh tea and warm water delivered to us at sunrise and a wonderful breakfast of mini hot dogs, bread eggs and oatmeal.  #glamping.  Our vitals were checked and we were all in good shape although my head was still slightly painful from the elevation.  

We left camp at about 8:30am and headed straight for what appeared to be the incredibly steep Barranco Wall.  After crossing a stream and starting up towards the wall we realized that thankfully it wasn’t as steep as it looked from camp.  Yes, some scrambling and pulling ourselves up some rocks with our upper bodies but the exposure was minimal and would probably only result in a 10ft or less fall.  

Yes, injury, but probably not death.  Eric seemed just fine and made it through without any assistance.  I mean come on.. was he really gonna turn around anyway!?  Personally, ascending the wall was my favorite terrain of the entire hike and I pretty much ran up it like a billy goat much to Mike’s amusement.  

At the top of the wall was a small plateau of rock where we had possibly the best view of the mountain from the entire climb.  The clouds had held off and by the time we got there at 9:30am the summit was totally clear.  Although being constantly told (Pole Pole = slow slow) we had made great time so Mike and Emanuel allowed us to relax in the sunshine for nearly an hour which felt great!  We got a ton of photos of all of us and with our guides as well as some action jumping photos with Mt. Meru in the far distance.  I even pulled out my camp chair to lounge in for a while. 

After the wall we had a long stretch of trail that looked like a dusty moonscape before descending down into a very narrow slot canyon of amazing geology towards a stream then a steep climb up to Karanga Camp.  Other groups doing a 6 day climb instead of 7 bypass this camp entirely to go to the Barafu basecamp but we were happy to have another day to acclimatize and it was actually easier on the porters we’ve heard as the stream below Karanga camp is the last place for water on the ascent.  We could see a train of porters taking a shortcut up the hillside carrying large jugs of water on their heads for other expeditions.  

The descent down to the stream was beautiful and due to the terrain contained a lot of very unique vegetation which was a welcome change from the moonscape we had hiked through earlier in the day.  Clouds had also moved in at a perfect time to cool us from the hot sun before the final climb to Karanga Camp at nearly 14,000 feet.  

Because we got to camp at noon we had a long afternoon to relax.  I watched a couple of movies in the LAIR as well as spent some time getting time-lapses of the clouds slowly moving up the base of the mountain towards us.  This was truly a beautiful camp and we felt incredibly closer to the mountain than previous nights.  And once again we had a wonderful meal carefully served to us by Humphrey of warm soup followed by a hot meal.  

That night I wanted to leave my GoPro out for a night-lapse but Emanuel told me I should not as theft was a problem at these camps by porters from other groups.  Even though we were a good distance from the other groups we were also told to bring our boots and bags into the tent with us as well.  I guess this is a necessity with the poverty that we had previously seen in Tanzania on our travel to the mountain but it still seemed odd to need to do it.  

Once again my head was bumping from the altitude so I took some stronger Aleve to be able to sleep soundly through the night.  

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