The landscape undergoes another amazing change – it becomes otherworldly. Picture this – we are hiking on greyish sand on a path that cuts only through barren landscape for miles with only rocks and a few boulders. So, Kilimanjaro it should be pointed out is actually made up of volcanic cones. The Mawenzi and Shira cones are inactive but Kibo, the largest, is dormant thus with the ability to erupt. As this is a volcano there were, at one point, eruptions – somehow or another this main feature appropriately called Lava Tower appears and has remained. This was pretty fascinating to see and I really wanted to try and climb it.
Lava tower was our signal that we had arrived at the middle of our day which was great because it was time for food! I was feeling pretty fatigued up there. As we sat eating and chatting I began to feel intense exhaustion – a complete physical breaking point was taking place at lunch. Much to my dismay, what was to follow would be a huge glacial carving that had in time become a valley complete with a fresh water stream. We would be setting off on a journey that would take at least three hours to span a relatively narrow gap to continue on. The elevation we would arrive to at camp was not much higher than we started, though Lava Tower at 4,600 meters was in the way, it made for quite the trip.
The valley is a blur but at some point, about forty minutes out from camp, we stopped to rest among the amazing Senecio Kilimanjaro trees that only grow on Mount Kenya, Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro! During this stop it was apparent the day has taken its toll on us, but the guides offered reassurance of our abilities and told us camp was only fifteen minutes away - the first and last time I listened to their approximations.
I was so happy to be at the campsite and to face the fabled Barranco Wall the next morning. Since I couldn’t take a blood thinner, I was able to get some Melatonin to help me fall into a deep sleep. Sleep deprivation is an unfortunate symptom of altitude, as rest is key for the body and mind during this type of strenuous activity.