Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Doubts creep in

Baranco Camp (February 13th)- Thank God for the Ziploc, I could sleep better (one full hour)and not make half a dozen trips to the stinky bathroom in the middle of the night. Wish it was simple as ‘going to the loo’. It’s a HUGE process. Unzip yourself out of your sleeping bag, quickly wear your outer layers (inner fleece-outer fleece jacket-down jacket-rain pants-winter hat), zip yourself out of the tent, yank on stuck zipper, wrestle with it for 10 minutes, give up, squeeze yourself out from a 10 inch hole like toothpaste, fall in a heap outside, shudder at how cold it is, collect yourself, orient yourself to the general direction you want to travel, move towards origin of smell, trip over rocks in pitch dark, turn on your head lamp, get blinded and trip again, reach bathroom, remember you forgot to get toilet paper, curse, rewind, play, make way back in freezing rain holding nose.

Ziploc- I owe you my life.

Sometimes, I would be mesmerized with the beauty of the night. The zillion stars that light up the African night, like no other place I have seen. The serenity of the mountain, as it is suddenly seems to belong to me alone. Solitude was a treat in Kilimanjaro. Seeing the rounded peak against the moonlight validated my being there, in the night, all by myself, going to pee.




The morning, just when I was declaring how well I slept, I had some symptoms of altitude sickness. I felt like puking while eating breakfast. The Dawg suddenly came to my recue,’ Hold it in! Hold it in! Do not puke!’ I tried tilting my head backwards, then suddenly I ran outside the tent and emptied the contents of my bowels, Malaria pill included. What the?! How does one hold puke in?

I felt very apprehensive about the rest of the days to come. Especially since I couldn’t hold the puke in as I was supposed to. Leela told me not to let this get to me and that sometimes achieving something is just a state of mind. I nodded weakly while lying on the tent floor getting my energy back. Herment, our guide, came to my tent and told me not to worry and that this is quite common. ‘I get sick too’. Herment had this uncanny way of putting people at ease at the most grueling times and I thank him for it even though sometimes we knew he was just saying things that he really didn’t mean. He did it very nonchalantly without creating a fuss. ‘Also if you feel like throwing up again, don’t try to hold in!’ That does it! I am convinced The Dawg is has been sent to twart my plans of making it to the top!

I felt instantly better as we moved away from the camp and Kibo came to full view again. We walked though some amazing expanse of Moorland vegetation (consisting of some huge cacti) and some black volcanic boulders. The vast starkness of the landscape was mind-blowing and we continued to prod on as the air became thinner. We reached an altitude of 14,000 ft after which we would descend to 12,850 ft to camp. This is the best mantra to acclimatize- Climb High and Sleep Low.

The Dawg declared that he was developing cerebral edema and we laughed at him like good friends should. ‘Dude, that's your Gatorade spilling on your ear.'

In fact his delusions in the mountain didn’t stop there. Every time he came back from the shithouse panting and puffing, he would declare he just had childbirth. His kids surely didn’t take after the mom.


I had lunch in a hailstorm. That’s one thing I would advice you not to put in your list to check off. It was brutal till it lasted. Though it was pounding with all kinds of white substance from the skies, it didn't last long. Downhill usually doesn’t bother me and I had a wonderful time admiring the snow covered landscape and then all of a sudden the clouds parted to my left and we got the glimpse of Kibo yet again, suddenly so close and so majestic. My heart skipped a few beats as I looked up. Nothing could be so perfect and nothing could take this moment away from me. I just sat down on a rock and admired this wonderful creation on earth. I could see the Heim and Kerstein Glacier , beautiful, though receding. A few glacial streams that cascaded down as little waterfalls adorned the path. The giant cacti (Senecio Kilimanjari) surrounded the landscape rendering this picture very illusory. I wished hard for one thing. I hoped to remember this for a long time to come. We had walked for 8 hours straight and were completely exhausted when we reached Baranco Camp (12,850 ft) right under the shadow of Kibo. To the other side was the vast plains of Africa and could spot the city of Moshi way below us. We felt very high and very cold.
Pi and the Dawg staggered into camp an hour later looking completely drained off every ounce. The Dawg collapsed in his tent refusing to come out for dinner. We literally dragged him out. The Dawg suddenly realized that this was not easy and for the first time he started having self doubts. He started talking fondly of his wife (This was highly concerning). He was in pain and had slight fever. Pi had a terrible headache, which is usually associated with high altitudes. Lee’s feet were hurting from an ankle sprain. But luckily everyone could speak two words before they retired into their sleeping bags.

7 comments:

Another Blogger! said...

"He started talking fondly of his wife (This was highly concerning)"....lol...hehehe

bloghopper said...

I am more curious to know what went on in the night in that tent !! Lee and Alpha .. oh I am shivering with anticipation :)

Me said...

bh & wa are maha intelligent...on the first post bh said about africadalli alpha...wa said she thought lee was a guy...& thamizh movie style la you are puking...am curious too...

Alpha said...

AB: If you knew him, you would be concerned too.

bh: after a while it got too graphic and I had to stop drawing.

me: good good..i love this extrapolation game. looks like my actual suffereings in th emountain doesnt seem to faze you all a bit..sadists! Say i was lesbo, Say Lee kept awake at times to do what it takes, say the stars aligned and say the cupid struck...we didn't have any energy to even shake hands. Romance just doesnt exist.

WA said...

Alpha we are all very broad minded people only, honestly I don't have an issue with whatever happens btwn Lee and you. Good luck to you guys, Pi dhaan paavam. My only issue now is that I won't be able to look at those ziplc bags now without being reminded of you and your trip.

Alpha said...

wa: aiyoo paavam, how can I compensate for scarring you like this? Maybe if I told you how I recycled the ziplocs, I might be forgiven. The laddoos I sent you for your birthday....

me said...

Alpha scares WA all the time...paavam she is scared of gulab jamuns now ziploc bags...

...since WA has brought this up...am now more curious whats happening in Pi's tent...

& puleez alpha..no word verfication...