Part six and Day five of a bloody long walk
At the summit – now that all the yahooing, crying, tears, handshakes and hugs are all over we can hear the head guide telling us not to go to sleep and to start to make our way back down. I’m physically and emotionally shattered by this point. All I really want to do is have a feed and lay down for a sleep. Closing my eyes seems soothing and a blessing.
Standing up is hard, however, I just have to do it or never leave. And that wouldn’t be a good look. Plus the paperwork, LOL! So we’re off down the same path we walked up. One foot after another and those boots didn’t lose weight, they seemed to gain it. The sun is up and I’m keen for breakfast. Knowing there are no cafes up here you have to move!
Back to lifting my feet and instantly judging the ground. You definitely don’t want a broken or sprained ankle at this altitude! Time was slow enough going up the night earlier, now that the sun is up my eyes are stinging and want to close. My guide grabs me and says we have to go. Over rocks, around rocks, along narrow tracks where you need to bend over to slide between boulders. And, finally, we get to the top of the scree. My guide tells me it’s like skiing. Cool. I’ve never been skiing before! This’ll be fun. I worked out to take big steps. At times you slide into the scree up to your knees, then you throw the back leg forward and do it all over again. Oh, and don’t forget to listen out for someone yelling out “rock”. Time to stop, look and stand aside as it rolls past you. An interesting sight for a person who can see, and an interesting sound for me. The air is extremely dry and your mouth dries out really quickly! I’m thankful for my gaters as they help to keep the scree out of our boots.
On arrival, the hut at Camp Kibo is a lovely sight, even though I can’t see it. Unfortunately, we’re asked to get our gear packed, go to the toilet if you have to, have a drink of water, and prepare to move on. There are lots of tired and excited voices around all looking forward to a feed and sleep but that’s not till we get to the Horombo Hutts, 3700m above sea level.
As the group leaves Camp Kibo the first snow of winter begins. Such a lovely sight for the sighted persons to see, especially for those who haven’t been in snow before. I can hear the snow hitting my rain jacket. A very settling sound. No trees, no shrubs, no grass. Just rocks, dirt, snow and a number of tired, excited trekkers.
That afternoon we make it back to the Horombo Huts and are allocated cabins for the night. With my guide I find mine and get inside to unpack and pack the days clothing. Sit on my bed, actually more like fall onto my bed, which is on the floor. Another trekker askes if he can sit beside me. “Mate, I don’t care where you sit, just not on me, I’m shattered!” He says that he’s no better. That was a bloody long day!!!
There’s dinner and a regroup that night. The next morning the alarm is set for 6:30am. Bottles are left outside for the porters to fill for us. Down to the food hall for breakfast where there is no milo and the porridge is very watery. Just add salt to flavour! Then we’re off again. The track hasn’t changed except for the grasses, shrubs and foliage. We’re beginning to hear birds again and a bird similar to a crow. Around lunchtime, we stop at an area with timber picnic tables and benches. We are presented with, I think, pieces of chicken and what felt like french toast. Kind of rubbery, but tasty. You’re really looking forward to a cafe to order something you can recognise!
We made it back to the 2700m above sea level Mandara huts. Another welcome sight. We’re given the opportunity to relax for the afternoon and explore to the near lookout at Maundi crater over looking Kenya and Northern Tanzania. You can see a very long way.
The next day, we’re off to the gate this time back the way we came. Taller trees are gathering around us, more birds and monkeys in the trees. Before leaving the Mandara Huts we are advised that near the gate leading out we may have children on the track about 5 or 6 years old selling chocolates. We have been given stricked instructions not to look them in the eye. To look straight forward and ignore them. With money in my pocket that was difficult and I did shed a tear. “Chocolate for a dollar”, “Chocolate for a dollar” is what they are saying. That’s their living.
Well, we’ve made it out and wait for the trek leader to sign us out of the National Park. We’re loaded into the bus to take us back to the resort with the eight-foot fence and barbed wire to have a shower, change and then we can go into Moshi to buy a souvenir. Now that’s an experience! I’ll tell you about it next blog.