Kilimanjaro Day Three: Kikelewa to Mawenzi


4 minute read

August 27, 2010

I thought yesterday was going to be tough.I thought today was a sort of “rest day” and we could take it easy.I was wrong.

Good GOD was I ever wrong…


Our guide’s name is Jonas.

When we first met Jonas, I asked him, “Have you ever heard the song ‘My Name is Jonas’ by Weezer?”

He looked at me like I was nuts.

Then he waited.

Then after a few seconds passed, he realized that I was being serious and that I was waiting for an answer.

He replied, “Nooo, I not know dat a one.”

Great song.

“My name is JONAS…..(something something)….”

Great song, but clearly I only know some of the words…

Our other guide is named Jackson.

The difference between Jonas and Jackson is an important one and we found out the hard way.

“My name is WAKEFIELD…”

Jonas will tell you, “Now, we walk one hour further to da caamp.”  But you’ll get there in 35-40 minutes, every time.  He does this for each trek, morning and afternoon, each day.

“The workers are gooooooing home….”

Jackson, however will tell you that you’re an hour from camp when you are actually an hour from camp!  So you’re used to subtracting a half hour from whatever Jonas says, and then Jackson makes it seem longer!

I don’t ask them “How much longer,” they just tell us.

Its best not to look at your watch or think about anything but the task at hand: trekking.

My Dad and I have very different philosophies.

He believes in “taking it one day at a time.”  He doesn’t want to talk about anything beyond today, and he doesn’t like it when I ask questions or talk about summit-day.

I try not to think about the finish line, but I have to.  I need a goal.  I need something to look forward to.

I realized, however, that you really can’t think about the finish line when you’re only on day two!

On day one, we were so fresh-faced and excited that we didn’t think about it for a second.  We were just walking around, gleamy-eyed, and taking it all in.

On day two, I started to think about the summit, but it made no sense.  We were so far away that it just compounded all fears and anxiety.

On day three, I started to feel like we were making progress, and I felt like I could look forward to summit-day.

Here’s the rationale…

When my brother and I were kids, we would look forward to Christmas from about July onward.

We would try to make it to December 22nd because we would say, “tomorrow, we can say that the next day, there’s only one more day till Christmas!”

Trust me – it made perfect sense when we were eleven years old.

So here I am after day three thinking that after tomorrow, I’ll only have to trek one more day before summit-day.

It makes perfect sense in my mind.

Today was a total mind-tease.

The trek was only 3.7 KM and I was practically laughing with giddyness when we started!

After the eight-hour day yesterday that saw us do two 3 1/2 hour treks with lunch in between, I was certainly looking forward to an “easy” trek of only 3.7 KM.

It wasn’t easy.

It was the steepest damn thing I’ve ever seen!

It was 3.7 KM up nothing but jagged rock-face that was at what seemed like a 40-degree incline.  I’m no math major, but it was steep!

I felt like I should be carrying pick-axes and using rope.

I’m not an expert climber, but something about this felt incomplete.

So this “easy” “little” 3.7 KM trek that I was looking forward to ended up taking close to five hours.

Yesterday, we did two 6 KM treks in 3 1/2 hours each.

Yeah – today was tough.

Oh, but wait!

I’ve left out the best part!

When we got to Mawenzi Tarn after our ridiculous day, we were told that we’d be going on an “acclimitization excursion.”

I asked what that was and I was told, “Practice hike.”

You’re kidding.

All this hiking, and now we’re PRACTICING?

Where’s Allen Iverson when I need him?

“Practice?  We talkin’ ’bout practice?”

The acclimitization excursion, however, is necessary to prepare your body for the higher elevation.

Mawenzi Tarn is at 14,118 feet, but after gaining an unthinkable 4,000 vertical feet yesterday (giving back 700 by the time we reached camp), we need to give our bodies more time to acclimitize.

That’s why we went on the practice hike – to give our bodies a chance to see what 15,000 feet feels like.

By the end of the day, I sunk into my chair and didn’t want to move.

Then I looked over at the smile on my Dad’s face and wondered how he had the stamina of a 29-year-old and I seemed to have the stamina of a 63-year-old!

He’s motored through these three days like nothing I’ve ever seen!

I was in rough shape.  I had very mild symptoms of altitude sickness – I was naseous, couldn’t eat more than a quarter-piece of bread, and I caught a chill that four thermal shirts, a down jacket, and a sleeping bag couldn’t cure!  Jonas cured with two hot water bottles, Advil, and a kiss on the cheek.

Okay, I was kidding about that last one…

Well, tomorrow is another tough day but we descend to a lower camp and we’ll have more air and better sleep!

Okay, I think it’s time to put on my IPOD and relax a bit.   Weezer, anyone?

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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  1. dogbiskit

    at 7:45 am

    keep going! you can do it!

  2. OCD.merton

    at 8:00 am

    That’s funny. I remember thinking the EXACT same thing with MY two brothers (re: Christmas countdown). It’s almost like we have the same genes!

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