Day 3-4: Rugged Beauty

Day 3: Shria 1 Camp (11,482′ to Shira 2 Camp (12,795′); 6.2 mi.

Day 3 route

Day 3 began with our normal 6:00 am wake-up call with a warm drink delivered to our tent. After getting dressed and packing our gear, we head over to the dining tent for our 7:00 am breakfast. Every morning and evening we all get our pulse and blood oxygen level checked and recorded. This is one of the many things the guides pay attention to as they monitor our health to ensure we are not having any severe issues due to the altitude. For the next 5 days we will be above 12,000’ elevation, with the next few days successively climbing to higher elevations.

After breakfast, while the camp is being broken down by the support team, we strap on our packs for the scheduled 8:00 am departure. Today is a relatively easy day as we hike across the Shira Plain. The landscape is dominated by large shrubs, grasses, lava boulders, and streams that emanate from the massive Kibo volcanic cone the rises steeply to our left. The Shira Plateau is the remnant of the oldest volcanic cone that collapsed thousands of years ago to form the plain we are crossing,

Today is a relatively easy 6.2 mile hike gradually rising about 1,300’ from Shira 1 Camp to Shira 2 Camp. This is designed to be a recovery day for the entire team after the big climb yesterday. We arrive at our camp for the night at noon, so today is a bit of an easier day for the support team as well since they didn’t have to set up the kitchen and dining tents for an enroute lunch stop.

Shira 2 Camp

After an hour to relax, we have lunch, followed by a short acclimatizaion hike up to 13,150’. Any opportunity to hike high and sleep low raises the odds that we will avoid any serious altitude sickness issues in the days ahead. As of today, everyone is doing great and feeling good. Tomorrow will be a challenging day, so we are thankful for the easy day, and we hope to get a good night’s rest.

Day 4 (Acclimatization Day 1): Shira 2 Camp (12,795′) to Lava Tower (15,223′) to Barranco Camp (12,992′); 6.7 mi.

Day 4 route

We woke up this morning to a beautiful clear sky and a magnificent view of Kibo Peak silhouetted by the sun rising behind it. Off in the distance in the other direction was Mt. Meru, the second highest mountain in Tanzania at 14,979’, shining in the morning sun. Wonderful sights to inspire us for the challenging day ahead. Fortunately our entire group is feeling great with no effects of altitude sickness despite the 12,795’ elevation of our camp.

Kibo Peak in the morning

After breakfast we gear up for the next leg of the trek. We depart camp promptly at 8:00 am with the goal of reaching our lunch spot at Lava Tower, a distinctive volcanic feature at 15,123’. On the way we transited the Alpine Desert, a zone with little vegetation and a lot of rock. The most iconic plant is the Giant Senecio, which flourished in the areas where streams from the mountain provide an abundant source of water.

Giant Senecio

Up until we reached Lava Tower, the weather has been perfect! We have been truly blessed! At lunch and throughout the rest of the day we had our first encounter with precipitation, first as rain, then a light snow, and then rain again as we descended 2,223’ to Baranco Camp, our destination for the day.

Our group with Baranco Camp below

This is by far the largest camp because multiple routes converge at this site located at the base of the steeply rising Kibo Peak, and next to the imposing Baranco wall that we will climb tomorrow. There are a lot of trekking groups encamped here, so we will definitely be using our ear plugs tonight.

Today was a good day and everyone continues to do well as we follow all the guidance of our talented guides. I hope to post the next update two days from now…

Praying for you Dad…

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