I slept well last night considering how wet everything was. I had a very slight headache when I went to bed so I tried to drink more water which resulted in me needing to get up and pee. A little tip for people considering this climb, try to avoid using the toilet at night, other people don’t tend to aim so well at night so it gets quite messy in there!
After my midnight venture to the loo, I slept all night and it was soon morning time. I can’t explain the relief I felt when I opened the tent to be able to see the mountain and, although everything was still very wet, it wasn’t actually raining. We managed to hang up a few items of clothes outside of the tent in the morning sun whilst we ate breakfast which consisted of pancakes, porridge, toast, eggs and sausages. For some unknown reason, we had a wonderful table set up outside in the sun but everyone else in the entire camp seemed to be eating in their tents – they missed out on some spectacular views. Matthew was nowhere to be seen so we ate breakfast with Elia, packed up our belongings and set off on day two – a four hour trek to Shira Camp.
Today’s walk was difficult, it was very steep and, due to the weather, quite slippery in some places. We walked through fog for a little while. The fog cleared, making way for glorious sunshine which then turned back to fog and eventually, more rain just as we reached camp. It’s crazy how quickly the weather changes up here.
The walk today started off up a steep slope lined either side by short trees and shrubs. I got out of breath quite quickly but I soon got into a rhythm and my breathing sort of settled down. Some of the rocks/steps were quite high which I found challenging being so short – I’m pretty sure I’m working twice as hard as most people here!
We eventually reached our highest point for the day at just under 4,000 m and stopped there for some lunch. We didn’t stop for too long and set off towards camp again. Before long I started to feel nauseous but nothing too bad. The weather changed quite quickly and it got colder and more cloudy as we got closer to camp. There were some parts where we had to “climb” a little bit over the rocks and I got a bit nervous where there were some big drops (I’m not great with heights). Elia helped me out a bit and carried my bag for a little while whilst I negotiated my way over the rocks on all fours!
Somehow Sean managed to bang his head on a rock – he clearly forgot how tall he was and thought that, as I walked under the rock easily, he could too (for those of you who don’t know us I’d just like to point out that Sean is 1ft and 1 inch taller than I am!) For a few seconds I thought he might pass out as he stumbled around with his head in his hands but he was fine.
We finally reached camp just as it started to rain which meant that we had no chance to dry the things that were still wet from last night but luckily our tent and sleeping bags were dry and we dived into our tent before it started raining properly.
Both Sean and myself have experienced our first altitude sickness symptoms today which worried me slightly as it’s still early days but Matthew has assured us that it’s completely normal. I felt quite sick just before we got to camp but I’m not actually 100% sure if it was altitude sickness or whether I was just really hungry! Sean has had a headache but he says it’s not enough to even warrant paracetamol it’s just constant. I think a few people in camp are struggling as I’ve heard a couple of people throwing up outside their tents (something you have to get used to!)
We signed in at the main hut and had a few minutes rest in our tent before being called into the mess tent for hot drinks and freshly made popcorn – it was delicious and made me feel loads better. We had a chat with Juma whilst the other porters were resting then returned to our tent to rest/read whilst dinner was being prepared. By the time we returned to the mess tent for dinner the rain had stopped and the sky was clear. Although it was dark, we could see Mount Meru and all the city lights way down below us. It was beautiful and so peaceful, even with the sound of people throwing up in the background.
Dinner was soup followed by beef, veg and rice. Again, Matthew gave me too much food and I felt so full at one point that I had to get up and walk around the campsite for a little while before coming back and finishing my plate of food.
We are situated much further away from the toilets in this camp which is both good and bad: on the one hand, we don’t have the smell and constant traffic of people walking past our tent, on the other hand, it’s quite a treacherous walk down to the toilet in the dark (this is where head torches are an absolute blessing).
We have a six hour day ahead of us tomorrow so, after a few minutes of taking in the star filled skies, we have retired back to our tent for the night.