Jan 20, 2014

Kilimanjaro - Barafu camp (day 5)

Probably this is the first night that we all manage to get a good sleep. The headaches are gone. The camp is rather windy and there is no frost on the ground, no condensation in the tent. We go for a walk around the camp before having the usual breakfast.
Kibo and Barranco

This time we don't leave last, we are even one of the first groups. It is different this morning, because the first challenge for the day is Barranco wall, the most steep part of the trek so far. Due to the large number of hikers and porters, and the small permeability of the path it gets quite congested. Some parts of the wall are quite extreme. D.C. is greeted by almost every guide and when we mention this fact, he tells us that he doesn't know all these people, but it seems that they know him. On top of the wall we stop for a short break and some photos.
Barranco wall
A photo with Kibo
Time for the jump

The path goes slightly downwards, then goes back up again. At some sheltered places there are many Giant groundsels. bushes and grass, but in the open parts the landscape is desert-like.
Under shelter
Rock boobies or boobies rock
Through the scree

Soon we reach the Karanga valley, which is rather deep and that means steep downhill walking on a very dusty path. All of the dust goes in your face and from our dust covered group could be heard lots of swears. We reach the bottom of the valley, where is the last water source for the next camps till the summit.  
Karanga valley

We start walking slowly upwards and at the top of the valley we reach Karanga camp at 3,930 m/12,900 ft, the same altitude as Barranco. Here we are stopping only for lunch, but there are many people camping as well. We situate ourselves next to a large rock in an attempt to hide from the strong dusty wind. The preparation of the lunch takes about an hour, during which time we take a lot of wind and I start feeling nauseated. Instead of waiting for a hot lunch, it was going to be better if we had lunch boxes, we like them very much. I force myself to eat some of the vegetable stew. When I get to the last piece of mango from the desert, there is a lot of dust on it. To show how much inured I have become and how much I don't care, I pick the mango with my fork and pick all the dust from the plate and eat it.
Karanga camp from above

After the two hour lunch break we head once again upwards. Soon some clouds appear and the weather gets chilly. After we headed uphill again I started feeling a little bit better. The rest of the guys look and I guess feel shitty as well. The habitat here is called alpine desert, there isn't a single blade of grass, only lichens on the rocks.
Alpine desert
Tired 1
Tired 2 and 3
Tired 4
The man himself - Washington

We reach to the last uphill section and climb it for 20-30 minutes. Finally, we are at Barafu camp at about 4,650 m/15,200 ft. We are no machine any more, but robots. Today's hike took us 7 hours, including nearly 2 hours for the unnecessary hot lunch. Strangely, we don't have any problems with headaches, nor I feel nauseated, just everything has to be done slowly.
Barafu camp and Mawenzi

Form the camp, which is located on a rocky slope there is a wonderful view to the third volcano cone – Mawenzi. Wikipedia mentions an interesting fact – Mawenzi and Shira are extinct, but Kibo is dormant and could erupt some day, although the last eruption is dated 150-200,000 years ago. We have another meal here, as this time Stan doesn't feel OK and barely eats anything. Afterwards, Chewa and I go to the ranger's hut to register ourselves. Around five o'clock we go to bed, in order to get a good sleep, at least 6-7 hours. It is easy to say it, but is hard to force yourself to sleep.
What's in front of us
What's behind us
The raven and Moon

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