As if the last few days weren’t enough individually or in combination, the final push to the summit would prove more arduous than I could imagine. We would eat dinner at Barafu Camp and sleep until awoken at midnight to begin. I did not really realize until I got to Tanzania that we would be hiking in the dark. When I asked one of our guides why that is, she said “trust me, you don’t want to see what you are climbing.”
We hardly stopped throughout the night – their plan to disorientate us worked well. As the sun was coming up, my body was giving out. I went to one of my guides and expressed to her my discomfort and that I questioned my ability to push on. She assured me that I would only have to conquer a 20-minute vertical push to Stella Point first. We must have reached Stella Point around 7 a.m. that morning. I found the nearest appropriate place to sit and allowed my body to be still and downed a bunch of water. At this marker we were still 45 minutes from the Peak. As one of the last to the point I didn’t end up having much time to rest. The guides are so great, and one said “you will make it, I will help you.” He took my backpack and held his hands behind his back for me to take so I could follow along behind him. Step by step we led the team to the peak.
Eventually the time had come to descend. I was dreading the entire rest of the day. We reached the peak after eight hours and twenty minutes of straight hiking through the night. At 8:40 we were headed back to Stella Point and expected to reach Millenium Camp that night. In a state of pure exhaustion I tried in earnest to hang around Stella Point to gather my mentality to pursue the rest of the day. That is when the guide who helped me to the peak introduced me to a porter who would take my bag and lead me down the mountain. He explained to the porter how I was feeling and he got an odd smile. He asked “want to get down fast?” to which I replied “yes.” In a flash she was SPRINTING own the side of the mountain. He would only return to the path for a foothold or a moment to drink water. The entire face was just a thick layer of fine sand that we had so much fun running, sliding and almost tumbling down. At the bottom we were the first to be greeted with fresh squeezed juice!
I clamored into my tent and blissfully napped within the retained the warmth of the sun until the next wake up call.
We would descend all the way back down to Arusha for the last two days of our journey. Those would prove much easier.