05 February 2012

EK Climbs Kili: Day 8 (Barranco to Karanga)

Note: check out my Kilimanjaro page to read about the entire trip.

START: Barranco Camp (4000m or 13100')
VIA: Barranco Wall (4200m or 13800')
VIA: Karanga Valley (3900m or 12900')
END: Karanga Camp (4000m or 13100')
PLUS: Acclimatization Hike (4200m or 13900')
(sorry if that's a lot of info up there, just wanted to get my elevations straightened out, since today is the first day we did a lot of up/down instead of steady up)
Good morning, Uhuru!
I wake from the best on-mountain sleep of the trip so far. I think my battle with altitude yesterday wore me out, but now 4000m is comfortable and I nearly bound out of my sleeping bag when Mchami calls with washing water. Chris is feeling good too and has time to take a short video before breakfast. Since today is a short day (Karanga Camp is only a few hours' hike), we have a late breakfast at 8a with the standard, delicious fare. We eat it outside since the sun has made its way near our tent. A few other tourists come over to share in the sunlight and we learn they are from Paris, and are feeling a little crummy after a few days on the mountain. We chat a little more and discover they are only drinking 2L each per day! What! Get with the program, kids! We recommend that they start doubling their water intake and maybe their headaches will go away. This also makes me thankful for Godlisten's absolute insistence that we drink like elephants; it has made our journey comfortable so far.
Group pic before leaving Barranco Camp. Roughly R-L: Godlisten, Maolid, Peter, Richard, Mchami, Isidor, me, Kitao, Mareme, Michael, Chris.
We have a group picture after breakfast and it turns out pretty good! Over the last few days we have learned more of the porters' names (Kitao, Richard, Maolid, Isidor, Michael, and Mchami, plus Peter the cook aka "Mama") and can say hello to them when they cruise by us on the trail. We leave Barranco Camp with a little bit of sadness; the camp has been my favorite so far and in a way marks the end of the "easy" part of the mountain - from here on up there is little room for error. 

Barranco Wall in the shadows of sunrise.
We have a slight downhill leaving camp and cross the water-supply stream on the way out. Then, we are faced with the famous Barranco Wall - a remnant of a past landslide. It's about 100-200 meters tall, and full of minor scrambling opportunities, but after the Lava Tower it's a piece of cake. The real feat is watching the porters make the climb with their huge loads - it's another testament to their athleticism and strength. We take our time up the Wall and top out with a beautiful view of the summit.
Chris and the summit.
Mareme, me, and the summit.
We traverse over a few minor ridges and suddenly are in sight of Karanga Camp - and it's still before lunch! We have to descend into Karanga Valley before climbing up to camp, and Godlisten tells us we should ask Barack Obama to give Tanzania some money to build a bridge across this valley. Chris of course gets all engineer-y and thinks out loud about what kind of bridge is best. I don't really want any sort of bridge to be built because then the hike to Karanga Camp would be even shorter than it already is! As we descend the uber-techy trail, Godlisten lets out a huge yell and it echoes through the valley. It is a quiet for a few seconds, and then all of the porters on the other side yell back. It is an incredible thing to hear. 
Godlisten and me.
On the final climb into Karanga, I feel probably my best for the whole trip. Even though we are going polepole, our pace is catching other tourist groups and passing them. And, to top it all off, Godlisten and I are whistling "Amazing Grace" as we go. It's an amazing feeling, to be thriving at altitude. I feel fit and happy. Despite the experiences of yesterday at the Lava Tower, I am now confident that we will make the summit in a few days, thanks to our modified itinerary.
Godlisten, me, and Chris upon our arrival to Karanga Camp.
We roll into Karanga camp a little before noon and find out we will be having a hot lunch! Chris and I sit on a rock overlooking the valley we just passed through and eat some snacks. Because of the topography of this camp and its surrounding area, the clouds are incredible - they float in and out, one minute obscuring the tents and the next providing a clear view to the Kili foothills. Lunch is delicious cooked chicken with curry sauce, fried potatoes, coleslaw, and mango juice. We eat outside, but with plenty of layers on because Godlisten has started reminding us to "keep the bod warm". After lunch, Godlisten issues another directive: nap. I am happy to comply and we rest in the sun-warmed tent for about 2 hours, reading, writing, and even sleeping a little.

Mareme comes over to rouse us at about 3.30p and says it's time for acclimatization hike. In order to follow the pattern of climb high, sleep low, we will be taking a short out-n-back hike up a few hundred meters, and then descending back to camp for dinner and sleeping. We climb up the slope away from Karanga Camp for about an hour with Mareme, going polepole the whole time. Along the way we see lots of cairns,  some rocks spelling out "EKI", and a huge chunk of shiny black stone. He tells us it's tanzanite, but we're pretty sure he means obsidian. Mareme whacks off a few chunks of the stuff for us to take home.
Me and the "EKI" rocks. We moved the "I" over for the pic but replaced it to preserve good mountain juju.
Tanzanite? Naw...that's obsidian.
My favorite cairn from the day. Zoom in to see Karanga Camp in the 'window'.
Upon returning to camp, we wash hands and Chris' hair before dinner of chapati, chicken soup, pasta, mushroom sauce, and orange slices. We chat with Godlisten and Mareme about tomorrow - it will be a short day's hike to Bafaru Camp before we start the summit attempt at midnight. It's important that we sleep now, so almost immediately after the chat we turn into the tent and crash!
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  1. Your trip totally reminds me of my 4 day hike to Machu Picchu. Our highest altitude was 4200 meters at the highest point, and that totally gave me a horrible headache and nausea. In Peru, we had coca leaves to chew on which helped a lot with the altitude sickness. Anyway, It's fun to read all your details along the way :-).

  2. This is looking adventurous. You should prepare your bag before going on there. You need to pack the necessary items. There may have to face difficult road to go on. Walking stick, supportive, walking aids should be with you also.