Day 2 ...what can I say about day two?
My guide, porter and I were running wayyyyyyy behind the other group. By lunch time, I was 3 hours behind, so basically taking exactly twice as long as everyone else.
They have the days schedules set so that you arent out on the rocks and ice at night. Wildly unprepared, I did the last 3 hours hiking up massive rocks in the dark. It was a 15 hr day.
At about 13.5 hours a park ranger spotted our headlamps. Vandealia was his name. I had to answer tons of questions, mostly about whether or not the guides were forcing me to go on. He spent the last 90 minutes or so walking us to our camp and the making me fill out paperwork. He said another ranger would stop by to see me in the morning and thaf I should treally consider taking the next day off to rest. While that idea sounded rather heavenly, I knew there would be no way to catch up, and theh dont let people wander around alone on Kili for so many good reasons.
Here's the thing...at that point you have no choice but to go back to the last camp or on to the next one.
I cried several times I'm sure. I was already accepting that I couldn't summit, and that was okay. After all, I had already had my feet in the snows of Kilimanjaro! But that hadnt been my original goal. And I've been trying to embrace it as the real accomplishment.
I hsd a lot to think about that night but after 15 hrs of hiking, I was completely braindead. I even kept falling asleep during dinner... then after I did get back to camp, they made me eat again. After the evening meal post hike, every day we had to do a pulse ox and heartbeat test. Amazingly, mine were fine every day!
I was pretty sure at this point that the summit, at least via the Western breach route, was going to be unobtainable.
I wanted nothing more than to call home, to talk to my wife. And yet here I was, seemingly a 1000 miles from any form if communication. I collapsed that night, feeling more alone than I have in a long time. And every bone in my body hurt.
That night, the coughing started.