Instead of preparing for the climb by putting on my raincoat, poncho, and bug spray, I should have been preparing for the climb by realizing climbing a mountain isn’t just a hike up a hill. The picture below shows the elevation change and the 13.5 miles that we walked up and down the mountain. We began at the gate and turned around at Mandara for our walk back down.
When I look back at the experience I applaud myself for completing the climb and keeping up with the first leader, but I definitely was miserable at multiple points during the climb. One of which was once we reached the hut and stopped walking. At the hut I was able to catch my breath and eat some food after my stomach grumbled for 30min, but the sweat and rain mixed with the cold air made my hands numb and tingly. I was so cold that I was excited to start moving again to build up body heat.
Both of the pictures above were from the beginning of the hike. On the way down we saw multiple hikers on their way to the top. Our leader that took us up was well in his 60s and told us that he had hiked this path probably 250 times. He also told us that once he lead 20 blind up the same trail. This is crazy because we constantly had to watch our steps and rarely got to look up and see the Tarzan-like canopy and trees surrounding us. Most of the second half of the climb was large steps made up of rocks, dirt and sticks, or tree roots.
The ride home in the coaster (aka the large van that fits all 22 of us), was miserable. We were all wet, dirty, and so tired. It took us almost 3 hours to get back, and driving in Tanzania is scary. When it got dark and the roads got busier, passing slow vehicles seems to be a commonality. It also requires the driver to go into the oncoming traffic lane despite the close oncoming traffic. At one point a van was trying to pass us and started coming over on us because they realized they couldn’t get around us in time. I saw my life flash in front of my eyes. Once we were back, dinner, shower, and bed flowed together in one swift movement. Bed never felt so good!