We were well above treeline at this point, just tons of rocks and boulders, and these really cool little ice formations everywhere. There are lots of lichens and moss, and a few little succulent looking plants that are really cute. No more animals though.
We had been told that today is our first really hard day. It was supposed to be 8+ hours of hiking, but we did it in 6 1/2 hours! To acclimatize we hike up to over 15,000 feet, but we are sleeping at 13,000 feet tonight. (Hike high, sleep low) The peak we went to today is called Lava Tower.
It had some really impressive rock formations… Which we only got to see for about 2 minutes of the hour and a half we were there, because of the massive clouds/fog that rolled in. Man it was COLD!!! Seriously, look at the clouds!!
We were excited to head off the Lava Tower for our mostly descent to camp. It was probably one of my favorite sections of the hike so far. It was otherworldly with the clouds speeding across in front of us, revealing glimpses of huge bowling ball shaped black and grey volcanic boulders. We soon started following a hidden creek bed that was only revealed by the Silencio Trees growing in a line; they are water indicators and beautiful. We soon saw a small waterfall and plants that looked like outer space succulents.
The color palette around us could have inspired designer decorated house or impeccable wedding – heather gray, mossy green, lichen blue-green, highlights of bright thistle purple and sunny yellow. And the Lobilea Plants! These were once of our favorites.
We can actually see Moshi from it when the clouds clear. And again we are fortunate to have amazing views of the summit! As we look up at it we what our guides tell us is the start of our trail for tomorrow, The Barranco Wall.
The name wall is not an understatement! It is straight up!! I’m intimidated. Their sage advice was “just don’t think about it and it will be hakuna matata” (as you know from the lion king, hakuna matata means no worries. Yep, that’s actually Swahili and they actually use it!) well, comforting strategy, huh? Climbing 1,000 ft in an hour. Eek
Another Swahili saying we learned today was “ahh! mama yangu” meaning “oh my mother!” Kinda like “aye yay yay” or “mama mia” It’s pretty much the answer to anything, from a steep assent, to a funny joke, to another one of the porters running past us up the mountain.
Here’s a pic of our dinner set up. I will say, this is not our typical hiking experience, having plates and a full dinner and someone else cooking it, but it’s pretty nice. Of course, comes with a price tag… Which, as I said before, we wouldn’t have paid, except that it’s required that you have all these people to climb Kili. It has it’s pros and cons. My favorite part is having a tent set up and ready for us when we get into to camp and not having to break down camp in the mornings. I’m not such a fan of someone else determining the speed at which we hike, where we stop and which route we take. I’m leaning towards I’m an independent hiker… and our budget agrees with me.