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Lemosho Route: Day 3

August 30, 2010

Day 3: Shira One Camp to Shira Two Camp
Estimated Hike time: 5 to 6 hrs
Elevation distance: 5 km
Elevation change: + 240 m
Final elevation: 3,850 m

Last night was really really cold. We really underestimated the nighttime temperature. There was frost this morning so it was at least below 0C. I woke up several times throughout the night shivering. Each time I added another layer of clothing and fell back asleep only to have the temperature sink lower. By the morning I had on 2 pairs of socks, heavy weight thermal underwear (top and bottom), yoga pants, sweater,  fleece jacket and a warm hat. I was still cold. This is ridiculous. I knew our sleeping bags weren’t winter rated but I thought the last night we would just sleep in our winter gear. No problem I thought. I didn’t think that the temperature drops so low at night at lower altitudes. The next couple of nights will be terrible.

As the sun rose so did the temperature.  So much so that before long we were hiking in shorts and a t-shirt. Today’s hike was especially easy as we crossed the Shira Plateau. We didn’t gain much altitude but we are getting much closer to the “base” of the Kilimanjaro. During the hike we caught up to the large Aussie group and decided to slow down and socialize. Their guide was insistent that they keep a snails pace. I had heard that large groups usually split into different athletic abilities. But not this one. I can’t imagine keeping such a slow pace and having to wait for 19 separate washroom breaks and photo opportunities. We had some great conversations during our short hike to Shira II campsite.

When we arrived at Shira II campsite we were welcomed by a large white building. To our surprise and joy this building was the toilets! It was nicely tiled of the floors and walls. Plus there were sit-down toilets available. Ohmygod. I certainly am starting to appreciate the small things in life. Now I understand why they doubled the park fees a few years ago. Please, please offer the same luxury for future hikers at all the other campsites!

We arrived at the campsite at lunchtime so we had a lot of downtime in the afternoon. We mostly kept to ourselves and before dinnertime our guide Mark took us for a walk over to another campsite that is used by the Whiskey route. It is huge! There were tents everywhere. Our campsites have consisted of ourselves, the Aussie group and a small american group. Lemosho really is a quiet and remote route up Kilimanjaro. It’s too bad that as of tomorrow we will be merging routes with this large mass of tents. I hope I can sleep through the ruckus. On the way back from our sidetrip I experienced my first headache. David thinks I didn’t drink enough during the day but I think this could be the beginning of altitude-related symptoms. 

On our way back we also got to see an unobscured view of the Uhuru peak of Kilimanjaro as well as some great mountain vistas. The clouds had been moving in and out of the valley and around the peak all day. We also got to see the peak of Mount Meru in the distance. We spent a lot of time admiring the scenery as well as our campsite visitors – mice, moles and birds.

Tonight we have devised a sleeping strategy. First we are going to zip the sleeping bags together so we have one big one to share. Second we are going to fill up our water bottles with hot water and keep them in our sleeping bag. Hopefully they will release heat all night long.

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