Jun 17, 2012 | Written by Patricia Murphy

Day 9: Shira 1 Camp to Moir Camp

When I planned the trip to Africa I had every intention of blogging along the way. But that didn’t work, mainly because I didn’t feel like it. I found that I preferred to be present rather than reflective all the time. So I took pictures and notes and decided to let the writing come naturally, later.

This morning I sat down to write a post about Day 3 of the Kilimanjaro hike. I asked John what he thought I should highlight about the day and he said, “I don’t even remember it.” I understand where he’s coming from. We crammed so much vacation into 23 days it’s hard to even remember the summit, much less the small steps to get there.

But I wanted to write about the day in more detail so I looked at my pictures and I re-read my notes. They made me laugh hard. I think they make great sub-headings so here goes.

Beautiful morning.
We woke in Shira1 camp to delightful weather and I decided to enjoy it since I figured it would be our last morning of above freezing temps. My thermometer said 60 degrees so I pulled out a short-sleeve shirt to start the day. Not bad at over 11,000 feet.

It’s a gorgeous day at Shira 1.

Stanley pretended to be a girl.
So, by now you know that every morning Stanley came to the tent with hot coffee. Day 3 of the hike John and I were shuffling our gear when we heard, “Good morning! Coffee!” in such a convincing falsetto that we thought it was a girl. “Is that Neema?” I asked. Stanley laughed and laughed! He was so tickled that he continued to talk to me only in falsetto the rest of the hike!

Took Diamox 125.
I had a little bit of a headache, and looking back I’m glad I did. It wasn’t a pounder. Just a touch of pressure behind my eyes to let me know I was not at sea level. I had worried that a yes or no Diamox decision would be hard for me to make. But as soon as I felt that headache, I was pro Diamox. I popped my first 125 and I think it made a real positive impact on my reaction to the altitude for the rest of the hike.

French toast porridge granola fruit coffee.
Nom nom noms! Kapanya promised all of us we would lose 12 pounds total on the 8 day climb. But at each meal I showed him that my pants were getting tighter. When would I lose my appetite as promised?

Lazy 5 mile walk to Scott Fischer camp.
Kapanya had a plan and I liked it. Instead of hiking to Shira 2 camp with the massive and cigarette-smoking 5-Day Coca-Cola route herds, our group would take a left turn and hike up to Moir camp for some peace and quiet. We strolled an easy 4 miles through moorland where we saw the lobelias and groundels we had been promised.

The day’s hiking through Moorland to Alpine Desert.

Then we veered left towards Fischer camp where we stopped for a delicious lunch of tomato soup, pasta, chicken, and of course fruit & veg, cheese, cashews and yogurt. This pic is of Cindy’s separate, gluten-free lunch, which I kind of coveted.

I’m still waiting to lose my appetite.

John gave geology lessons.
After lunch we had a nice 1 mile stroll to the campsite. Along the way John answered lots of questions about the origin of the rock formations.

Is anyone here a geologist?

Once at camp, we did our third unpacking out of 7 (we were really getting this down to a science) then we started our acclimatization hike up the lava flow to 14,100. That became my new highest elevation (and that night, 13,663 would become my new highest sleeping elevation).

Unpacking like a champ.

Kilimanjaro song.
After a rest and some tea, which involved shameless stuffing-the-mouth with delicious hot popcorn, Kapanya gathered the group for another photo. After many clicks of the camera, the porters broke into song and we all danced to the beautiful voices of Manase and the rest of the crew.

Larry shared whiskey with cooks.
After the spontaneous dance, Larry must have been in a great mood because he wandered into the cook tent where we saw him passing around his flask of whiskey. Now that’s how to make friends on the mountain!

Carrot soup beef rice chipati banana fritter.
This dinner was delish.

OMG the stars!!!!
We walked out of the mess tent and into the cold night. To see stars, you don’t even need to look up. It’s like the air is saturated with them.

Silk and ultra.
I was cold and afraid of getting colder. I slept with two layers this night, my silk underwear and my ultra-weights.

Yo-Yo Ma thinks about Julia Child dropping roast chicken.
Once again, I was a little too anxious to get to sleep all by myself. So I turned on some Terry Gross and listened to a fascinating interview with Jonah Lehrer about his book Imagine: How Creativity Works. Lehrer tells an anecdote about Yo-Yo Ma, that you should probably read first-hand here:  Let’s just say it helped me get some good sleep, and made for a great chuckle when I reviewed my notes a few weeks later.

Here is what we had planned for:
Shira 1 to Shira 2 Camp
4 Miles
3 to 4 Hours
Start 11,844 Finish 13,780
Gain of 1936

Here’s what my GPS (ready to go now that we’re out of the forest!) reported. The great difference in distance came because we hiked to the quiet camp. And I’m so glad we did.:

Shira 1 to Moir Camp
6.44 Miles
4:53 Hours
Start 11,466 Finish 13,663
Gain of 2207

Check out the satellite view here and you can see us moving from the Moorland to the High Desert.