Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mt Kilimanjaro—part 1

In my daypack I carried raingear, a lightweight parka, a camelback water bladder and an extra litre bottle of water, snacks, sunglasses, sunscreen, a headlamp, toilet paper, hand sanitizer and a small sketch kit which included a small Moleskine watercolor journal, Staedler pens, a Pentel Pocket Brush pen, (watercolor pencils which I never used) and a small watercolor palette. My pack was not outrageously heavy but every little thing adds up, when you are hiking 4-6 hours a day….uphill.

My good intentions of sketching were slightly curtailed by the fact that we hiked all day and it was cold at night.

Day 1—After a three-hour jeep ride to the start of the climb we all waited around while they weighed our luggage. Not knowing anyone or what to expect of the days to come, I tried to calm my nerves by drawing as we all just waited—not too successful.

I had no idea that this would be one of the most amazing experiences of my life!

Every evening we would devour a plate of popcorn and drink tea with powered milk and lots of sugar. I usually managed a quick sketch before dinner and then would huddle in my tent, in my sleeping bag, wearing many layers and usually a hat while I added color by the light of my headlamp before I would finally succumb to sleep usually before nine o’clock.

Camp would come alive very early in the morning. Nature would call and we would all wait as long as possible knowing it would be a cold walk to the outhouse. I brought the “Freshette” which was an alternative to that cold night walk. I am not sure what was the lesser of the two evils…

Beautiful Shira Camp 1 at 11,000 ft. Altitude low enough that it wasn’t too cold to sit outside and sketch before tea and popcorn.

We came out of the dining tent after dinner to see the full moon peek out from behind Kili. We all just stared, as this beautiful moment was happening before or eyes. The cold night air forced me into my tent where I quickly sketched peeking out to check the moon and its light on the landscape.

Mt Kilimanjaro—part 2

Day 3—Shira Camp 2. A short hike acclimating to 12,000 ft. I got a very bad headache from the altitude, which forced me to lie down. With my feet sticking out of the tent the sun was shining and warm as I closed my eyes after taking a handful of Advil, I recovered. We did yoga on the rocks as the sunset waiting for tea and popcorn.

Day 4—A long hike to Barranco Camp at 13,000 ft through the Barranco Valley where giant Senecio plants dot the rugged landscape.

Giant Senecio—Some are up to 30 ft tall.

Lunch and dinner we would always start with the most delicious soup. A new flavor everyday—warm and satisfying after a day of hiking.

Mt Kilimanjaro—part 3

Day 5—The long scramble climb up the steep Barranco Wall to Karanga Camp at 12,200 ft. Foggy, misty and cold.

Day 6—Barafu Hut at 15,200 ft. We had tea at 10:30 pm and left for the summit at 11:30 that night. We reached the summit at 19,341 ft around 6 am as the sun was coming up.

Sketching the mountain in the evening at Barafu Hut. To anxious to sleep.

Day 7—After summiting we rested at Barafu Hut and then the long downhill in the rain to Mweka Camp at 10,000 ft.

Day 8—After a wet night the sun came out and dried our gear for our final hike down to the Mweka Gate and the end of our adventure. A quick sketch of the porter who choose my hat and our amazing guide and leader Richard Vitalis.