To Camp Mweka just over 10,000’
The descent is very pretty. We see views that we missed coming up in the dark. The sun is peaking over Mawenzi
We were fortunate to be the first to ascend, as we discover on the descent, the trail is loose skree, as the sun melts the hard pack snow. It feels like we are skating downhill on sand. No firm footing and just sliding down like on skis. This would have been murder climbing up.
It took us less than 3 hrs to descend back to Barufu. My legs were weren’t too bad at this point, but it felt like we were being pushed to get back. We passed many porters who were positioning themselves to bring down the body of the “fallen soldier” in a relay sort of fashion. Each guide was to provide 2 porters to transport the dead body back down the mountain. I guess there wasn’t any real rush. It was a done deal. More on that later.
At 9 AM we arrived back at base camp with dirty wobbly legs. Our tents wee still erect and the sun was warm and bright. It was a homey feeling. I changed down to cleaner dry clothes to prepare for the hike down to Mweka Camp some maybe 6 miles away all down hill. We snacked on tea and cookies and headed back down at 10:25 AM.
We followed the trail down through terrains which still reminded me of a moonscape or desert. Our legs were really getting tired. We reached a part of the trail which I would think you might see in the desert south west USA with flowers I hadn’t really noticed before. My legs were really trashed and downhill walking was really hard. It was hard to appreciate the beauty.
We arrived in camp, warm and sunny, Mweka at 1:45 PM in shorts over 12 hrs since we headed for the summit. As we sign in at the ranger station, “you sell cold beer (Kili) for
$3???, Bring it on!” Had it been one week since alcohol? The party started!!!!!!!!!!! A celebration of a mission accomplished. Veggies and rice for dinner, but after drinks (2 beers) and the long day we didn’t have much of an appetite. Bed by 7 Pm and the best sleep so far. Was this beer induced? Hard to tell!
Wed 2/22 Mweka Camp to hotel
Up at 5 Am for morning duties (poop and writing in the moonlight), 6:30 is breakfast! After a quick breakfast we break camp and leave for Mweka Gate at 7:50 arriving there at 10:50 to check out and get our certificates. Along the way we are passed by several of the folks we partied with the night before.
Again as we descend we walk through yet another different terrain. This was more of what I would describe as a jungle complete with the smells and sounds you would expect in a zoo or botanical gardens. The trees were huge and we spotted a large Colobus monkey. It was black and white with shaggy fur. I wasn’t able to get a picture because it was jumping around high up in the trees. Very cool!
When we arrived at the ranger station to check out, we notice how beautiful the flowers are in the garden surrounding the buildings I wanted to give our guides an extra treat. I noticed that Mohamed 2 had been admiring my trekking poles. I thanked them for taking such good care of us and gave them my poles. One less thing to haul back to USA!. I was running out of US dollars but I gave Joseph, our cook a $5 tip for which he was very grateful. We will give our head guide the formal tip when we get back to the hotel after stopping at the bank.
We took a different route back to Moshi passing through a pretty rural area rich with bananas and a huge coffee plantation, continuing past a large teaching medical center and a university. Later we understand that this road we are on is part of the marathon route and race registration hotel.
I stopped at an ATM for 50,000 TS (shillings) which equals ~53 US dollars. Poor Craig went into a bank to get traveler’s checks cashed. We waited outside for over 30 minutes in the 80 degree plus heat only to find out it was a No-go. He was steamed! This seemed to be a constant problem with traveler’s checks. Our hotel would exchange them with a
$3 fee for each and I’m not sure that the exchange rate was fair. Upon advice from AAA here at home I bought a traveler’s debit card which was at no cost and I could load it up as I wished. I was able to get fast cash from any ATM that accepted Visa.
After gathering up all our dirty smelly clothes, we give them to one of the girls at the hotel for laundry. There were some things we needed for our safari and it was very nice to bring home clean clothes. Each of our “loads” cost something like $2 and they had them cleaned, dried and folded before we went to bed. Don’t ask me how they did this with no washing or drying machines. It’s a mystery!
You can’t imagine how good a hot shower and shave felt. Our room looked like a war zone with all our stuff scattered about trying to organize for our next adventure.
Tomorrow morning we are off on safari for three days. We don’t quite feel the pressure of organizing like the night before we climbed.
At lunch at the hotel bar (more beer please) we met 3 Canadians from Vancouver, BC who were taking the same trip up the mountain we had just completed. We acted like pro’s telling them of our experience.
After lunch we headed over to the hotel internet room. We were able to sign up $1/ 15 min. time. I had already set up a distribution list of people I would like to notify that we made it back safe and sound and I was not the 58 yr old American guy who died on the mountain.
It’s back to the poolside for more beer and chatting, and catching up on our notes. The swimming was excellent! We decide to head into town for a steak dinner at a place recommended by a couple we met from England while climbing. The place was called The Salzburg Café. This was a very interesting couple who were young teachers on assignment here in Moshi. They proved to be a good resource local information as well as fun to be with when we were drinking and socializing the last night in camp.
After our swim, we met up with Nick from England who will join us for dinner in town. We targeted 6 PM to meet the shuttle bus to take us in. Well, 7:30 PM (African time) we finally connected with the Springland’s shuttle which took us through many back streets and deposited us at the restaurant.
This turned out to be a very unusual place and well worth the trip. I was expecting a crowd (I don’t know why) but when we entered, the only other patrons were Peter and Ullie from Germany, a couple of chaps we met several times on the mountain. Bill and Craig hit it off well with them as they talked politics. Ugh! We joined tables with them and “let the drinking begin!” Everyone else was drinking beer but I had a hankering for something stronger, like whiskey. They served me doubles of an Austrian brand. Their shots are smaller than our US size. I had maybe 5 and seemed to handle it well. Our steak orders were $4 and with the drinks and all included, the tab came to about $10 apiece.
This place was a bit bizarre. The waitresses wore these leopard skin vests and hats and the décor was German with all this Volkswagen stuff all over and Mozart posters. The music was American 50’s and 60’s love songs played on plastic records. The food was outstanding. I guess we were hungry.
At about 9:30, the lights went out. Out come the candles and on went the dinner just like some routine. Actually, it was routine. To conserve energy a mandatory power outage was in effect every night. That is why some nights and afternoons our beer was not cold.
We called two cabs to take us back. It was really eerie to walk out of the restaurant and the only lights you see are from the cab. Nick came back to Springlands with us. The cabbie offered us some ganja. No thanks, this isn’t the Amsterdam story yet!
Bill and I retired to the bar for more beer as Craig went to bed.