ay 2: 30th January 2013
As expected my nights sleep was disturbed, due to the cold, but unexpectedly also from funky dreams. Curiously many other people also had some pretty weird vivid dreams – not sure what was in that soup last night!
I started my Diamox this morning, a tablet used for glaucoma, but frequently recognised now as helping the body through the acclimatisation process. Happy side effects include peeing copious amounts frequently and weird, sharp tingles in the feet and hands. Getting 100 people plus porters to the top of mountain was only going happen with the assistance of western pharmaceuticals.
There were three young doctors volunteering their time as we climbed the mountain, English Matt, Aussie Matt and Scottish Luke. These guys had a massive job on their hands and I’m sure it felt like an overwhelming responsibility at times. I remembered packing for myself before we left and that was enough of a challenge, ensuring you had everything, but imagine having to pack for yourself , and all relevant medical supplies to keep 800 people safe from the torments of the mountain.
We got up and started walking again, this time they promised only a short 3 hour walk, which turned into a nearly 5 hour walk. Learning for the day – don’t get fixated on times, just keep putting one foot in front of the other and when you see the sea of orange tents, then you’re finished.
The walk today was beautiful, leaving behind the monkeys and forest for a more fynbos look, with lovely flowers (lobella), heath vegetation, groovy rock formations and stunning views. It was steadily uphill, with some very steep sections. I was adopted by two guides who obviously thought I was moving a bit too fast and they kept encouraging me to drink water, move slowly and take rests. There were some other guides/porters walking near us and they were singing and shouting and dancing the whole way – while carrying packs on their heads and moving quickly!
Once we reached those glorious orange tents, we were fed some lunch and then all of a sudden an impromptu song and dance erupted with all the guides/porters. It was amazing to have hundreds of male African voices joined together out of sheer spontaneity – and frustration, it was apparently spurred on by having trouble setting up one of the igloo tents. The 60 minutes crew were able to get some good footage and have a bit of a dance amongst that amazing choir.
I am still feeling fine at this altitude, only issues relate to Diamox use so far. Karla, one of the lovely girls on the trip (from Perth!) has offered me her down booties to wear at night to help with having cold, cold feet, bless her heart. It certainly made a difference.