Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro Part 4: THE END

We woke early at Horombo Camp,
and began the 14 mile trek to our exit
at Marangu Gate. 
 Much of the hike was through a tropical rainforest,
where we saw "Tarzan vines" 
and Colobus Monkeys
and beautiful waterfalls.

 I soaked in the green beauty of this part of the trek.
We stopped at Mandara Hut Camp.  
I would consider this to be "nicest" accommodations 
I'd seen along our trek.

 Once again, Diga cooked our lunch
and Nesir served us here on this restaurant deck.
The were sweet little huts for "hire". 
 We found these warning signs
displayed at each gate of the park.

This is a simple map of the different routes 
to summit the mountain.
We chose the least traveled route.

Once we returned to the Springlands Hotel,
all I could think about was SHOWERING!
Laura and I had NEVER been so dirty before in our lives,
nor had our gear/clothes ever been so filthy.

After paying Filbert, Musini, Nesir, Diga and the other porters
their tips, I discovered my bag was once again MISSING!

All I wanted was a shower, 
but I ended up chasing after our bus driver 
through Moshi Town
with three African men from Zara!
What an adventure.

When I finally got my shower,
I washed my hair three times
and scrubbed my hands, feet, face etc 
over and over again in order to get clean!

Dinner that night was lovely with laughter and joy
as we debriefed about our adventure together.

The next day we were able to say good-bye to Filbert,
a young man who was supporting his son, 
mother and three younger siblings
with his guide pay and tips.
Filbert who would type words into his phone
after hearing us say them and asking us what 
they meant.
Filbert who dreams of becoming a Warden for the park one day.
I hope his dreams come true.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro: Part 3

In the morning,
as usual,
Diga cooked us our delicious breakfast,
,just outside his porter tent.

We said good-bye to the White-necked Raven,
who stole Ken's soap
as he tried to wash up in the pan of hot water
Nesir brought to us each morning and evening.
On our way we saw the debris
 from an airplane that tried
to soar around the mountain in 2008.
From what I read, four tourists died.

Kibo Hut where we registered.
There are a lot of buildings at base camp.
Now we have a view of Mawenzi Mountain again.
They use solar panels for power.
That night,
though we went to bed early
we watched the moon rise over Mawenzi Mountain.

Nesir woke us around midnight.
We dressed in our warmest gear,
drank hot tea and ate English biscuits,
then began our ascent.

Pole, Pole--Slowly, Slowly
The cold wind was constant.

As we climbed through loose scree,
we noticed our breathing felt different.

I struggled with severe back pain,
due to carrying my pack for 7 days straight.
My theory is that with low oxygen,
my muscles couldn't recover,
so the pain was more intense.
800 mg of Ibuprofen didn't even touch it.

Filbert was worried it might be my lungs,
checking my pulse and O2 levels a couple times.
I assured him it was just my muscles
and not my lungs.
I found my poles useless, so I put them in my pack
and Filbert took my pack to help my back.

In the mean time, Ken began to really "battle" to keep going.
He felt exhausted.
Filbert left the lead to encourage/console/threaten/challenge him to continue.

Musini, the assistant guide,
was now our leader.
I was next in line,
 then Laura and Ken and Filbert were a little way behind us.

I began to feel colder.
When I told Musini,
he pulled an extra down coat out of his pack
and helped me put it on.

Every action felt like a difficult, exhausting task.
As Musini zipped the coat up for me,
I commented how I was like a baby
and he was taking care of me.

"No, I am your son
and you are my mother
and I am caring for you like a son cares for his mother",
he sweetly replied.

We slogged along in the pitch dark
following the sparse light of our headlamps
when we came to some rock scrambles.

This was where I began to feel better
and I KNEW I would make it!

We summited Gilmore Point by 5:10 am.
It was still dark outside.
I longed for the sun.

Then we began the hour trek across the rim to Uhuru Peak.
About half way there I saw the sun!
The moon and the sun-kissed glacier were beautiful!

The highest point
19,300 ft
Uhuru Point
was full of people from all over the world
with their guides.
We took turns for this famous picture spot!

It was a surreal feeling being up that high.
None of us felt well,
we were exhausted,
and zombie-like.

I wanted to take more photos,
but just the idea of the effort it would take
was overwhelming.

Then we began the trek back to Gilmore Point
and down the steep rocks and scree.

It became warmer and warmer as we descended,
we stripped off our outer layers along the way.

Laura and I reached our tent by 10:30 am,
collapsing inside we fell instantly into a dreamlike sleep.

Ken and Filbert made it down by 11 ish.
We rested a little longer,
ate our lunch,
packed up and began our descent to Horombo Hut.

On the way,
I turned to look back at Mt. Kilimanjaro
as I usually do,
that I was just up there on the summit!

We hiked about 14 hours on summit day,
sleep came easy that night and was much appreciated.

Continued in Part 4

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro: Part 2

After Simba Camp
we hiked about 5 hours to Kikelewa Camp.
 We kept an eye on our goal
the entire way.
 Exploring a cave...
 Noticing any color along the way.
Kekelewa Camp

The next day we hiked to Mawenzi Tarn Hut Camp
at 14, 200 ft, 
which is as high as Mt. Shasta 
in northern California,
the highest mountain I'd ever climbed.
 Mawenzi Mountain
 The camp was nestled at the base of Mawenzi Mountain
 This is where the porters loads were weighed.

We arrived in the afternoon
and by then I had a horrible headache and nausea.
I tried to eat a little lunch,
took some Ibuprofen and laid down to sleep.
By dinner I still wasn't feeling well.
I sat in the mess tent waiting for dinner to be served
when I knew I was in trouble.

So I grabbed my empty soup bowl
and threw up directly into it!

Ken went to get Filbert and Laura helped me clean up.
Filbert looked in the tent and said, "Did you "throw out"? 
That's good!  
You need to "throw out" and then you will feel better!"

Thank goodness we had planned to stay here 
for two nights for acclimation.

In the morning, I felt great again.
We went on a short day hike up to about 16, 000 ft,
hung out there for a while 
then hiked on back to Mawenzi Tarn Camp.

 Our view over to Mt. Kilimanjaro and Kibo Hut Base Camp,
which is very hard to see,
but it's directly on the base of the mountain
on the left.
 On our way back from our little day hike,
we stopped at the last water source.  
Kibo Camp has no water.
The porter's spent the day hauling water from here 
over to Kibo Camp.
 It took a while for each bucket to fill.

These plants are called Senecio Kilimanjari.
They are ONLY found on Mt. Kilimanjaro
and no where else in the world!

After our little day hike and exploring the water source
I tried to fly Josh's small kite.
All my attempts failed because the wind was too gusty 
and inconsistent.

We went to bed that night knowing
that in 24 hours we'd be making our way to the summit!

Stay tuned to Part 3! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro: Part 1

After 10 days in Uganda with no bag,
it finally arrived on the day I was to fly to 
Kilimanjaro airport.

Through much red tape,
Robert Katende (SOM staff) helped me locate it
just an hour before I left Entebbe.

When I arrived in Kilimanjaro airport,
Laura was waiting for me!
Sadly, her luggage had not even made it to Dar Es Salaam airport.
Poor Laura.

She ended up "hiring" all her gear from Zara Adventure Tours,
but she's a trooper
and never once complained.

Our ride to the Springlands Hotel in Moshi,
with Laura & I and Ken Jensen; 
a 52 year old South African
who was to climb with us,
took about an hour of hurtling down a dark African road
with pedestrians,
and bicyclists
weaving in and out around us.

Pretty normal for African.

The Springlands Hotel is located in the worst part of Moshi.
The dirt road is almost impossible to drive 
with it's deep ruts,
pot holes,
requiring the slowest of speeds.

Suddenly, we were in front of a tall black iron gate
which opened for us revealing an oasis
of outdoor lighting, 
beautiful grounds and
a buzz of activity.
We checked in,
cleaned up and met for dinner
in the open air dining room.

Juma, our waiter
encouraged us to learn a few Swahili words,
even creating a cheat sheet for us to use on our trek.

After a good night's sleep
the morning was a blur of buses and vans,
luggage and people from all over the world
getting ready to load and head out to 
whatever adventure awaited them.

After breakfast,
we still hadn't met our guide,
but then a man approached asking if I was April or Laura.

Filbert, our guide,
shook my hand and encouraged us to complete all our tasks
so we could be on our way.
We checked in our excess luggage,
stored our passports and cash in the safe deposit box, 
allowed the porters to grab our bags
tying them to the top of the bus,
then we jumped aboard ourselves.

We drove four hours
stopping once for our permit to exit Kilimanjaro National Park
at Marangu gate.
We didn't need a permit to enter on the Rongai Route.

Tanzania reminded me somewhat of Uganda,
though the dress was colorful wraps of cloth (Kanga)
 rather than Basuti with their waist band and pointy shoulders.

We arrived at the Rongai Route--Nalemoru Gate
where we stopped to eat a box lunch 
while the porters,
guide- Filbert,
assistant guide- Musini,
cook- Diga
and toilet porter
hustled to ready all the supplies,
and weigh in their packs and loads.
This is Nesir, our porter and our waiter.
Our toilet porter:
sadly I never learned his name.

Our toilet was a bucket with a seat and lid
with a little chemicals thrown in 
for smell control.
It was surrounded by a tall, narrow green tent 
which we lovingly referred to as our bath house.

We began hiking on a dirt path heading uphill
passing by gardens full of potatoes,
maize, green peppers etc.
We were in the cultivation zone.

Soon we entered a forest of tall firs with long needles,
about 6-8 inches in length.
This was a lumber plantation
with shacks and rickety fenced in homes dotted along the path.
The people who lived there were security for the plantation,
Filbert explained.

After hiking about 3 hours we reached Simba Camp.
This new building was almost complete.
Nice lodging made of cypress wood
for those who paid more than we did for our trek.
This was our home away from home.
The porters carried all this,
setting it up and tearing it all down each day as needed.
Breakfast, sometimes lunch and dinner
were served here each day for us.
Neesir was a great waiter.

Millet Porridge
Fried eggs,
cucumber & tomatoes,
instant coffee,
tea and/or Milo.

samosa-meat filled pastry,
or chapoti-flat bread,
mango juice.

Various Soups--cucumber, carrot, green bean, etc,
fish or chicken or pasta with curry sauce,
cabbage salad,
tiny bananas,

It was all very yummy!
Each camp
where we stayed the night
had various other climbers staying
the night too.
They were like little villages.

Part 2 coming up....

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Cripple and a Well

We had been playing 
and working
in the hot Gulu sun 
all morning and afternoon,
in Pugwini Village.

Four years earlier,
before the partnership 
with Sportsoutreach Ministry,
Pugwini was desolate.

Now the village
was alive with a fresh water well,
a preschool,
a piggery,
a large field for kids play.
The community was learning to work together,
learning how to farm,
raise pigs,
learning about the love of Christ.
Aloysius-- their teacher.

Now it was time to visit Amuro Village.
A place deep in the bush,
desolate and struggling.

A picture of a former Pugwini.

We boarded the bus 
and waited in the sweltering heat
when the doors flew open 
and a crippled man
labored slowly up the steps
crawling into the empty seat next to me.

He smelled of urine and body odor.
Why was he on the bus? 
I wondered.

Sam, one of our SOM Ugandan Staff,
turned to me and asked if I was comfortable.
"Yes, I'm fine" I answered.

We took off again
and the cripple turned to me and said,
"I am so glad you are here.
My name is Francis."
"I'm so happy to be here," I replied.
"My name is April."
I was curious.
Why was he on the bus with us?

We chatted a little and I discovered
he'd been crippled since birth.
He didn't have a job.
But he loved to share the gospel.
I wondered if he knew about Kampala School for the Physically Handicapped,
a place I had toured,
a place for people like Francis,
the place where our SOM headquarters were located.
Again, I wondered why he was with us.

After an hour of driving,
we arrived at Amuro Village,
a meeting on flattened grass under a mango tree.
The women of the village greeted us with song
and shouts of joy.
They had been waiting for four hours.

As we disembarked, 
I wondered about Francis
and how he would crawl down the stairs
with his flip flops on his hands,
and across the grass.
Where would he sit?

The elders and guests (us) sat in the colorful plastic chairs
placed in a semicircle under the tree.
The elders each stood and spoke,
asking for our help,
begging us to not make promises
and then disappear.

Aloysius stood and explained how SOM was a partnership.
A partnership between Amuro and SOM,
working together,
building together.
SOM was not here just to give
and not expect anything in return.

Then Aloysius went on to share how this partnership came about.
Francis had the dream.
Francis wanted to reach out to the people of Amuro.
Francis, a cripple,
was the one whose heart ached for the people of Amuro.

And the partnership would begin with a well.
Darcy, one of our team, had donated the money for the well.

a cripple,
had grown up at Kampala School for the Physically Handicapped.
There he had learned about the love of Christ.
There he had learned there was no limit to what he could do.
a cripple,
who was transforming a bush village
by bringing fresh water
and new life.