A look back at Lana’s experience of Kilimanjaro – Day 1
While sitting in the comfort of my arm chair with the first of the snow on the ground, I am trying to recollect the experience of Kilimanjaro Day One and I find myself wondering things like, “What happened on day one?” and “Was I even there?!”
Looking back, it all seems very surreal. I know I climbed a mountain, I have the pictures, 2 less toenails, and ongoing numbness in my feet to prove it! I can remember the anticipation that I felt at the beginning of the first day, the taste of the dust in my mouth and the grit of the dirt on my teeth, the smell of the dampness in the forest, and the warmth of the sunshine on the back of my neck as I walked with my head down, but when I try to break it down into individual and separate events, I seem to have forgotten all but a few ridiculous, painful, or beautiful experiences that contributed to this incredible adventure.
Brande’s writing has thankfully brought to the forefront so much of our experience that perhaps happened in a mere moment, but which are the very fleeting instances that make up our entire adventure, and so often life itself.
I remember the chaos of the rental equipment being handed out at the lodge: Our guide pulling out sleeping bag after sleeping bag from a cinched duffle bag, much like the way a magician pulls never ending handkerchiefs continuously from his sleeve, only to find that we were still one short; the dispensing of the rain gear somewhat willy-nilly and the laid back response of “it’s okay, everyone fits,” as we questioned who’s pants were whose and my mind flashed back to the painstakingly drafted itemized, personalized, alphabetized, and categorized inventory list of rental gear submitted to the trekking company three months prior; and my very own red, black, and silver walking poles that I carried faithfully for seven days that did not leave the safety of their position, strapped tightly to the side of my pack and on more than one occasion thumping the back of my skull, reminding me of their usefulness. And so Day One began with all of us, our crew, and our gear – purchased, rented, borrowed, and gifted – loaded onto the top, under the seats, and into the stinky bus. Interesting to note, I have absolutely no difficulty recalling the stinky bus!!
Perhaps if there was a straight road or two in Tanzania the bus ride would have been a bit faster.
Registration, weigh-in and lunch was a blur to me until B mentioned the soup. Delicious and steaming hot with tomato sandwiches and cookies on the side. It was an appetizing preview of meals to come and after what I thought was the final tightening of my hiking boots, we set off on the dusty trail. I do remember stopping about 20 minutes in and tightening my boots again because they had started to rub the already tender area on the inside of my heels. As it turns out, the short trek from the train station to the hotel in Amsterdam was longer than I anticipated and warranted a snug fitting boot tie after being loosened on the flight from home. So on day one of my seven day adventure, I already had blisters to contend with. The ongoing saga of which I fear will continue to the end of this great journey and beyond…
The 7 Day Trivia game began early on with Seinfeld episodes, music trivia (complete with sing-along), The Simpsons, and Forrest Gump driving most of the questions. This was an amazing way to pass the time. It not only gave us hours of entertainment and some great laughs but also helped some of us get to know one another. This came in especially handy for me as at first camp I would be spending the night with a fellow I had only met twice before! Well, three times if you include spending the night together with his brother in Amsterdam…It’s not what you’re thinking!
When we arrived at first camp I was excited to see that each tent had not only a small foyer with zip closures AND a sleeping area with zip closures, but sleeping mats 3-4 inches thick! Those who know me will understand my elation as it is no secret that I am some kind of cold blooded creature that cannot wait to throw on an undershirt and/or turtleneck, and freezes out with visible goosebumps at the mere mention of any temperature less than 25 degrees Celsius. Fashionable layers upon layers of autumn sweaters completed with a scarf and boots are my most favorite of all… Oops, I digress. So we laid out our sleeping bags to achieve maximum loft, I inserted my heavy duty sleeping bag liner to add 15 degrees, and stuffed my fleece thermal outfit/long underwear/pjs inside to await me after dinner. Hot beverages to drink, hot water to wash, cookies to eat, and not one, but two toilet tents complete with paper were already set up in the distance – what kind of luxury was this?!
Supper was fresh and delicious and more than I dared hope for. I was full and satisfied and as I stepped outside the dining tent thinking the day was done, I was surprised by what awaited me. I was immediately enveloped by an incredible blanket of stars that I felt were so close they could be touched! The clear night sky was like nothing I had seen before. At this point, the first day of my adventure, I did not know what nature had in store for me and was unprepared for the raw beauty that continued to reveal itself daily. It was an unexpected and unbelievable gift and feeling grateful for a day of blessings, I crawled into my hobbit tent and got ready for the night ahead.
As my room mate with his 6 foot frame snuggled down into his mummy bag I could almost feel the heat rising and the tension beginning… Just joking! Although it sounds like something from a sultry romance novel I was snuggled inside my own mummy bag thankful that one more body (anybody) was producing more body heat than my own so it would help warm the air in the tent. The tension was the scene I created in my own mind hoping that Matt wouldn’t lose sleep, not only because of my snoring, but because of the acclimatization flatulence I had read so much about… So far so good. By 5:30am on day 2 I had slept like a rock, warm as toast, and my more than polite and easy room mate had no complaints…
(Here is a link to my look back on Kilimanjaro Day 2)