Sunday, September 02, 2007

Uhuru Peak & The Descent

I'd got as far as Stella Point earlier when I'd had enough and went up to the bar so I'll carry on from there.

To say I got a bit over-excited when I reached Stella Point would be a touch understated. I felt completely overwhelmed, felt far more energetic and enthusiastic, and didn't shirk at telling anyone that, whether they wanted to hear it or not. I'm not sure there's ever been anyone so talkative at nearly 6000m.

A few photos were taken, including some brilliant sunrise ones, which I'll upload tomorrow, and then we set off for Uhuru Peak, with only Jim not continuing. I don't blame him - he started with the next group today.

It was an hour and a half to Uhuru, but it felt like much less. I'm not sure why. I held back for several rests, with Joan and Simon (the Scottish one, not the RAF one), and stopped for the toilet again. Every couple of hundred yards required me to breathe and lean heavily on the trekking pole Zach (the assistant guide) had borrowed for me from Simon (the RAF one) earlier in the trek.

This trek did serve to remind me how much heights freak me out. Zach had lent me the pole at the very beginning of the walk, when we were walking up sloping rock, and I was a bit lacking in confidence and hence unsteady on my feet. It served to be very useful later walking up the volcanic ash and then again on the descent.

The walk from Stella to Uhuru was relatively straight forward - some of it was on uneven ice, but it's only a gradual climb of about 200m between the two. When we got to Uhuru we found a circus of people trying to get in the next photo by the sign. Generally people were quite polite about getting out of the way but also quite dopey and exhausted.

After about half an hour at the top, we started to come back down. The fun started when we got back to the volcanic ash, which we pretty much ski'd down. It had taken about 8 hours to get from camp to Uhuru, and it took about two hours to get back down. The last bit of walking down the sloping, slightly gravelly rock was horrible though. My legs were weak and I was very wobbly coming down there.

After a couple of hours rest and our first food in over 12 hours, we went down to Millenium Camp, which should have taken 2 hours but took the front few of us one and a half, camped there overnight and then waked to Mweka Gate on the next and sixth day. Again, it should have taken 5 hours but the front few of us got down in three and a half.

I annoyed a few sellers at the bottom by appearing interested and then not buying anything, and we had a buffet lunch put on before going back to the hotel. After removing a metric tonne of dust in the shower, we then waited for Zach to turn up, as he had kindly offered to show us where to shop for souvenirs in Moshi.

Although this was very useful, the fact that there were about ten of us all being led around by a Tanzanian to his friends' and family's shops, did rather attract a lot of attention from other street sellers, and all the hassle that goes with it.

The really annoying thing was that when we got back, it felt a little like our room wasn't quite how I'd left it, and then Simon discovered he'd had some money pinched. Later I found that whoever had stolen it had gone as far as unzipping my sterile emergency medical kit to see if I'd hidden anything in there. Luckily they hadn't delved into the lining of my rucksack, or they might have stolen from me too.

It's quite annoying to find that belongings aren't even safe in a posh hotel.

Now I'm staying in the Kindoroko Hotel in Moshi itself, I've largely hidden from the street sellers in cafes and on the Internet, and rested as much as possible. I've befriended a handful of randoms and I'll be off back to Dar on Tuesday to see some more of my Tanzanian friends.

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