As you may have noticed, the Scientist Blog was quiet for the past two days. As is to be expected, things can change rapidly on the mountain and the ability for the team to send us their daily blogs was interrupted. The team safely continued on their journey, and have sent us their blogs.
Day Eight was Saturday, 29 September. The team journeyed from 4,877 m (16,000 ft) to 5,608 m (18,399 ft). This portion of the trip is very difficult, as it take the team to very high altitudes. This change also signifies another biome change: from alpine desert to summit. The summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro is an arctic zone that experiences freezing cold nights and extremely fierce sun during the day. At this altitude, the oxygen level is nearly half of that found at sea level. As one student said on the webinar this morning – even putting socks on results in shortness of breath.
This portion of the trip is beautiful in its own right – there are a few red and grey lichens that have adapted enough to survive at this altitude, as well as massive glaciers. The team was able to explore the camp as they felt able, and some beautiful photographs have been captured.
Today’s question asked the bloggers: Describe a typical day on the mountain and if it has changed since you continue to increase in altitude.
A typical day on the mountain is almost an oxymoron… we never really know what we’re going to get! All we can say for sure is that it will involve a lot of climbing. Roughly, we wake up around 7 AM to Peter, Ramsaw and Salvatore (our three incredible waiters) bringing us cookies and hot drinks in our tents. We pack up our tents and head to breakfast around 8 AM. We eat for an hour or so (a true feast: eggs, toast, hot drinks, crepes, fruit, and more) and then hit the trail. We hike alongside the guides, while the porters leave behind us after they pack up camp. They speed by us on the trail, and every day I’m increasingly impressed by how much weight they can carry up the mountain. We say “Jambo”, “Mambo vipi”, “Pole sana kaka” and other quick hellos as they pass us. On any given day we hike between 3 and 6 hours, breaking for protocols, snacks, and on long days a hot lunch. We arrive at camp for the night by 5 PM, encouraged by Chedrick and other porters singing until we’re all here. We eat dinner around 6:30PM, which also a feast: soup, potatoes, bread, sometimes pasta, fruit, meat, salad, and dessert. Julius, Safi, or Moody gives us a briefing for the next day, and we hang out in the meal tent answering questions and chatting until 9 PM or so. By then we’re all tired, full and cold so we head off to bed!
I think that there are no typical days on the mountain! Every day seems to bring a new biome and a new scene to observe, and they all have been very interesting.
As far as our routine goes we have seen some changes in the way everyone has their own particular needs each day. We have all learned more in dealing with the mountain and it’s various factors. We all get up and then meet in our mess tent for breakfast around 7:30 am. Most days we eat and talk and then prepare our things for the hike. We usually roll out of camp at 9:00 am and hike until we take a snack. We hike until lunchtime or we may reach our camp around lunch and then we meet in the tent again. Dinner is always around 7:30 pm. We meet in the tent again, eat and talk about the sights and sounds of the day, and then we go over the schedule for the following day.
The altitude is very much of a factor for everyone. As we climb higher different people are affected in different ways. Some folks are taking naps as soon as we get into camp now. I had a nice rest in my tent after lunch today. We are all drinking our fluids, getting as much rest as possible, and trying to eat well. Of course, with the cooks here, that is very easy to do.