Abel our hike planner and Sam our guide told us that the next two days will be crucial in determining our summit success. We were to cover the most distance and that called for extra resilience and fitness. I was somewhat anxious that morning when we got up to head for Lava tower. I wondered what if I don’t summit Kili? That would be a shame. Our crew was quite encouraging.  I liked how every time they overtook us with our luggage they would psyche us up. They were invested in our success and that inspired us. This included Barasa bending the truth slightly as we went along. He told us that we were covering eleven kilometres and it was mostly flat then downhill. He always managed to ingiza us box. In hindsight, I don’t blame him. Why would you tell someone the road ahead is bumpy when they are already struggling?

By 7 am we were well on our way. Sam ensured we left camp before the other climbers so that our walk is less crowded and peaceful. But also to beat the time set. You must rest for a certain number of hours for you to be in good shape to tackle the next day. Plus the last thing you want is to be caught up in the darkness. Securing a good location to set up camp also helps as it’s on a first come first served basis. The rule in the city of waking up early to beat traffic also applies on the mountain hehe. The mountain is too cold for worms but here the early bird catches a good camping spot.

Shira plateau looked huge the day before from camp but appeared endless as we approached it. What Barasa did not tell us is that we were going around it as we approached the summit. So basically Shira is what was standing between us and our goal of summiting. It would take two days to get around it.

The walk was polite but we started warming up at some point because it was not flat as Barasa told us. It was one continuous gentle climb. Folks, whenever on a mountain just know there is no such thing as flat. Just flat upwards. The surrounding was all rocky ish terrain with an endless view of the plateau behind us and Shira mountain (it stopped being a plateau at some point) ahead of us.

We got to Lava tower in good time according to Sam. This was at 4600 meters above sea level. Almost equivalent to point Lenana on Mt Kenya. There is a tower of rocks standing precariously on one another hence the name Lava tower. It looked like nature’s version of lego. One is not allowed to camp near it for the danger of rocks falling from above. We took a half-hour break before descending to Baranco camp. Gladly this was a real descent. Barasa didn’t lie. But it soon became difficult because the brakes were now our knees. It’s funny how life is with us, complicated humans. When going up we long for when we will be going down. And when we get to go down we still complain. No wonder many post their status as complicated hehe.

Baranco camp was three kilometres away all downhill to 3900 meters above sea level. We came across small streams of ice-cold water. If we topped up our containers then that would have been the real, bottled at source water hehe. We got to Baranco without much drama. Yet another rocky camp but while on the mountain you have very few options. At least the sun was still out and that was comforting.

Baranco camp was like at the bottom of a bowl. All around us were high rugged walls that looked as if they’d bury us. The Baranco wall stared at us menacingly. We were to scale it the following morning. It looked like we’ll be doing more rock/cliff climbing than hiking. But the view from camp was to die for. I felt like we were in our own Grand Canyon.

Chef Suleiman fed us well then we played some card games to push the hours kidogo. We went to bed at about 8 pm. I still remember that was my best night on the mountain. Somehow my body cooperated. I was warm enough to fall asleep for a few hours. Maybe it was the warmth from being in the valley. But I had also managed to have some alone time with sir God thanks to Sam ensuring we got to camp early in the afternoon.

I felt like my blue ticks were being responded to. I think I saw him typing a few times to my earlier petitions. What did he type? The message is yet to come through. Sometimes the voice or message we want to hear is right beside us. But often we want it to come in our preferred version or style. I sat on a rock that afternoon a bit removed from others and just stared up those snow-capped walls on one side. Behind me was a deep gorge that seemed to direct water towards Mt Meru. I started talking then something told me to shut it. So I just gazed into the magic of creation around me with huge black crows occasionally flying above me. By the way, the crows on Kili go to the gym. I was warned they could even steal my camera lens thinking it was food so I needed to be careful. They are the largest I have seen, almost eagle size. They assist the porters as cleaning crew when camp is set down so we let them be.

Maybe just being in the presence of such unpolluted beauty and feeling like a dot was the lesson. Do your thing in the time allocated to you, in your small space in your small way and move on. That’s what gives me pleasure in sharing this experience with you all. Maybe my job was to be Kili’s disciple and bring you the mountain gospel in words and pictures. If that was the case then I’m glad I went.

We summit next Friday.

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4 thoughts on “The Kili Dossier. Part IV”

  1. Sam says:

    “Do your thing in the time allocated to you, in your small space in your small way and move on.” Great message and learning🤷🏾‍♂️

  2. Priscah says:

    These series of articles have been eye opening. Thank you.

  3. Mitchelle says:

    Thank you Lucas.We may not say it here always,but thank-you for Sharing the experiences. We appreciate.
    Hiking psychologically with you o this,I can confirm that I feel like I also did Mt Kili.Thats enough for me.When I imagine the baridi, especially as described by you I know what not to do…so summit here we come next Friday…..

  4. David Kimani says:

    What great articles these are Lucas! One key thing to success in any task is following the leader(s). Climbing and summiting require just that and you were great disciples. Thank you for sharing these awesome experiences with us.

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