Today was the day I’d been dreading the most of my Kilimanjaro experience. Yes… more than the cold or the prospect of altitude sickness.
We had to go over “the wall” to get to the next camp (Karanga camp). It’s not the kind of wall you’re imagining. But think huge rocks and boulders (a dream for the hiker and adventurer) and a pathway that goes up, one that only the guides can expertly guide you over.
I am not one for heights. And I was most nervous about facing that wall and crossing to this next camp. Okay – I have to say everybody else enjoyed climbing the wall and they say it was the best part of their climb so far. So I am obviously amplifying how hard it is. One of the main reasons I chose to climb the tallest mountain in Africa was to overcome a lot of fears, and rely on the Lord’s leading (listening to and following the guides has a big lesson on that actually…). I have overcome a huge fear today!
I am looking around at the lunch table as I write this (we’re having veggie frittatas, fries and chicken!) and am grateful at how this team cheers each other on and patiently helps each other to go up higher and higher so we all make it to the summit together. Everyone looks excited and well.
Keep praying – we are almost there!
Today was amazing. After 14 long hours of hiking, we are back at 10,000 feet tucked safely away in our tents at camp. This morning, we woke up at midnight to the sound of excited voices and porters who sang to wake us for our ascent to the summit. After conjoining in the meal tent for coffee, tea, and other sugary snacks, we set off into two groups: one left at 1:00 am and the other left around 1:30. By the grace of God, the wind had died down and the temperature was mid 20’s…perfect peaking weather I was told. As our two groups made it up the mountain, our porters were nothing short of amazing: warming our hands, handing us our water and reminding us to eat during rest breaks. They even checked up on us about every 10 minutes. It took my group around 4 hours to get to Stella Point, which is just a half-mile short of the peak at the top of Kili. By then the sun had started to peak above the clouds and warm us up a little bit. It was absolutely beautiful. We could see the entire crater, the massive ice blocks, and the other lower parts of Kili, all floating above the clouds. A few pictures and a cup of tea later, we were headed back down to the camp (16,000 ft) to sleep until lunch. After we had rested and eaten, we all begrudgingly began our four hour descent down to our last and final camp.
Needless to say, today was a great and long day. We are all sore and tired and still trying to process the events from the dawn to the dusk. Above all, I believe that all of us are just thankful. Thankful for our porters who helped us every step of the way. Thankful for the countless encouragements of our team. Thankful that all 35 people who attempted to summit last night made it to the top. And thankful for a God who is so much bigger than we will ever be able to understand, and who loves us very, very much.