Shira Camp (February 12th)- 'Good Morning ladies!' We heard a booming voice followed by some vigorous shaking of the tent itself. It was still dark. The tent shook again. In my troubled state (I was thinking of lions all night remember) with sore muscles, I managed to open the tent zipper to encounter a cheery Professor with a tray of tea and biscuits. Yikes! I was aghast. I probably died and went to heaven. No I was sure I hadn't, I still felt like I was hit by a truck. We were (or rather Lee was) woken up with bed (in this case sleeping bag) tea every morning by Professor. Ewald is a porter who is also known as Professor as he knew three extra words in English compared to the others. He was quite a sincere and likable chappie who moved on to Pi and the Dawg's tent...'Good Morning brothers!'
As we were about to head out of Machame camp, my water bottle started leaking and spilling most of its content on my pants. Sleep deprived and butt freezing wet, I wasn’t feeling too pleasant as we scrambled through terrain that was steeper than the previous day. The path being very steep and narrow made us stop and let the harried porters pass by. They passed us in huge numbers and we saw ourselves falling behind every group. There were hundreds of porters. By day two, without shower and change of clothes, the stench of body odour was overpowering. There were times when I felt I would throw up. I mean it was sad and all to see them carry 1/2 their weight (sometimes more than their weight) uphill. But my condition was definitely sadder. They at least got paid for this madness. Herment offered to carry my bag , but I refused feeling silly about having difficulties on the second day itself. I also remembered Herment saying todays hike is comparitively tame to what is in store! Couldn’t deal with the fact that the Dawg was racing up the mountain like it was a molehill. Must have been that extra omelette he thulped off my plate. I was out of breath every few minutes and had to stop to catch some air in my lungs. I got loads of advice from Pi from changing my wet pants to keep moving as I was slowing him. If I had some energy, Pi would have been a dead man. I would have regretted that act later of course.
Thick vegetation was replaced by Stoebe Kilimandsharica (twiggy trees covered in cobweb like lichens) Lunch break was on a breathtaking landing where we could see the neon green expanse of Heatherland extending as far as the eye could see. Well fed ravens came for scraps and regaled us with some amusing acrobatics in the air. Mood was elevated instantly. We reached Shira Camp (12,600 ft) soon after and could catch the glimpse of the highest peak of Kilimanjaro (Kibo). Kilimanjaro consists of three peaks- Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira. Uhuru Point on Kibo is the highest point on this mountain that we were aspiring to reach. It was a sight to behold and we watched mesmerized the Snows of Kilimanjaro. Like a massive scoop of chocolate ice-cream with vanilla sauce. The destination seemed so far away and daunting, so high above us that I felt ridiculous to think I even dreamt of being there. Yet Kibo seemed so alluring and beautiful that it would be ridiculous not to be there.
Shira Camp itself was on an open expanse with the perfect triangular outline of Mt Meru looming behind.
Some people were shaving their underarms outside the tent! I couldn’t even think that far- my immediate worries were regarding sleep. Will I be able to catch a few winks tonight? If I had more energy, I would have shaved everyone's underarms and doused it with deo. Sleep came in spurts and by then I decided not to worry myself about it. Agonizing is my forte and I knew that would be something I had to let go in this mountain.