Trail notes from Kilimanjaro Machame Route – Day 6
I climbed Mt.Kilimanjaro with Serengeti Pride Safari in July 2014. Here are some tips from my hiking experience.
Summit night: Barafu to Uhuru
I woke up before midnight and it took a full half hour to put on my hiking gear and get ready before breakfast. Do not let yourself be rushed!
No one had much of an appetite but I appreciated the hot food.
We started off very slowly walking through camp. The sight of headlamps snaking their way up the mountain let me know that it was our summit night and made me feel like a part of a larger group. Later on in the hike, I looked back down and saw the headlamps below us. I used the headlamp line to get a sense of where our hike was going throughout the night.
The middle hours of the hike were discouraging. I felt exhausted and my heart was pounding. My thoughts and interior monologue were dulled and I felt like I was barely surviving. I decided to never hike again in those hours, until I remembered the Star Trek TNG episode ‘Tapestry,’ where Jean Luc Picard sees how his life would have ended up if he hadn’t gotten into a bar fight when he was young. I decided that this climb was my bar fight, and I summiting would be my success.
I was dressed well and didn’t feel cold. In fact, my face was exposed and event my nose never felt cold. I would pull my balaclava up over my chin when it got windy.
I never had a headache or nausea and never breathed too fast or shallow.
Once the sun came up, I was amazed to see the number of hikers that were clearly suffering along the side of the trail. I never felt any sickness from the altitude.
I used 2 liters of water on summit night. I put one liter in my Camelback and kept drinking every few minutes until the tube froze a few hours into the hike. I knew the tube would freeze, but having constant access to water during the first part of the hike was important. I switched to Nalgene bottles covered with insulators. Our guide recommended that we carry our bottles upside down in our packs so the ‘bottom’ of the water bottle would freeze and we would still be able to drink water from the top. Because of the insulator, my bottles never froze.
Urinating and drinking water at a rest break is exhausting. I concentrating on just resting on our third break of the hike and felt better when I resumed hiking.
Listening to empowering fast paced music really changed my attitude and unlocked energy.
Concentrating on holding on until the dawn helped me through the night. The sunrise raised my spirits and I knew that the summit was near, even though I had an hour and a half of hiking left.