Kilimanjaro Journal

Kilimanjaro Journal

April 30, 2011 in Blog, Travel

I’m in the middle of spring cleaning, and I came across the journal I kept during my Kilimanjaro climb. It brought back some wonderful memories.

It’s horribly written and kinda maudlin, but I could baaaarely hold a pencil at the time, so whatever. There are pretty pictures at the bottom! *yay*

July 26th

I’m not sure where or how to start this. It’s 6:15 or so… I think. It’s Wednesday, that much I’m fairly certain of. My hair is encrusted with dust and my hands are shaking so much my writing barely looks like my own.

I had a shock today. We went to Ndoro waterfall for a high altitude (10,000 ft or so) hike before the actual climb. We drove up there and hiked into the bush. The twenty minute climb down was steep and slippery, the immensity of the valley gorge dwarfing the massive banana trees, and us.

We made it to the bottom and had lunch on the rocks, while our guides relaxed and smoked. I wandered off to take pictures, and then we climbed back up the way we had come.

Less than five minutes in, I realized that I may have woefully underestimated the level of fitness I’ll need for the Kili climb! The steps were carved out of the living mountainside. Rough-hewn and high, they posed a minor obstacle on the way down. On the way up, however, they nearly undid me.

I realised fairly early on that the combination of dust and altitude might make my sad, asthmatic lungs react.

They did.

And with my breath went my strength. Each step was a trial. My thigh muscles decided not to co-operate after 60 or so steps. There were about 300 (I just did the math – the gorge was over 1200ft deep, there were closer to 400 steps -ch). Each about 2-3ft high.

I’m still not sure how I made it to the top, but I did. There was no collapsing or other dramatics, only the sickly grateful relief that Chris was still behind me in the forest and I would have a chance to rest without the humiliation of having to ask.

However, the looming terror of the actual climb has done nothing to diminish my excitement at being here. It’s beautiful, sad, exhilarating and everything I had hoped.

The people are beautiful, friendly and kind. Our guide for today, Bariki Kimaro, was so helpful and blunted the raw edge of my humiliation by pointing out that “Fast” does not beat Kilimanjaro: patience does.

He will not be one of our guides on the mountain, he says it’s too hard on his body.

I hope we get to see him again, he made things so much easier.

On a much less dignified note – once I got my breath back & Chris arrived, I attempted to use the toilet that was built at the top of the trail. They were two, small powder-blue cubicles. Rough wood labeled “Ladies” and “Gents”. The key we had only opened the “Gents”.

Inside there was a hole, lined with porcelain much like the insides of a regular toilet but with no seat. After the climb, my thighs had no intention of supporting me through such a … foolish… endeavour, so I gave up.

In the miraculous way of such things – 20 minutes later I no longer had to go.




Yeah… that’s how that journal entry ended. I was under the impression that if we had miraculously been able to open the “Ladies” washroom, the outcome would have been somehow different. It wouldn’t have been. I know this now!! It was my first experience with those toilets – and it wasn’t my last. Frankly, my bathroom escapades, both on and off the mountain were pretty hilarious. If you find such things offensive… don’t leave North America. Ever.



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