Friday, January 17, 2014

Day 3 on the mountain

Well, just learned something else new... Tanzanian keyboards do not match US ones, which makes touch typing in the dark a little more difficult!

On the 3rd day, I had expected to have a conversation about whether or not I was going to go out that day... but there wasn't one. Like every other morning, I was greeted at 630 by hot tea at my tent, and at breakfast at 7. And after the night before's muscle relaxer, I did feel better. 

At 5am, I got up to use the porta-potty that we'd all come to love/hate, only to discover that it had blown away. At that hour, the only people who were awake were the porters and folks making breakfast -- and none of them spoke English that I could find. I speak maybe 5 words of Swahili now, and even if I had finished my course, I assure that I would not know how to say "the toilet blew off the mountain."

This was not the worst thing that I would have to try to explain that day.

After breakfast, in a frenzied rush, and without showering (because there are no showers), I forgot to put a bra on. Think about that for a moment, with DDs, and a 15 hour hike ahead of me. Of course, at that moment, I was only thinking I had an 8 hour hike ahead of me.

This time, by lunch, the exhaustion of the day before had fully set in. We were 3 hours behind. Edward and Goodluck were both realistic with me... not being mean... but if you don't make the summit and get OFF the summit by 930am, the avalanche risk is too real. I knew I wasn't going to make that. I was going to try to get through the day then go on to Lava Tower, to at least say that I got that so far.

By hour 12, I was crying. I wanted to know where camp was, how far it was, and why they had been saying it was "close" when it was NOT close by my standards. The last bit was rough, really rough. I made the decision I was going down the mountain in the morning, and going to let Edward and Godlisten do the work with the park rangers to get me off the mountain. I was going to become another Kili statistic, I suppose.

At about hour 13.5, I gave up and decided that I was going to have to pee in the woods. One thing I learned about Parkinson's disease on this trip? Balance issues are way worse at high altitudes and with exhaustion... with both, and man, I had to have my trekking poles to walk to breakfast some mornings. So I sent my guide ahead, and found a spot to go "visit the monkeys" in the woods (seriously, that's what they were calling it)... did my business, then lost my balance. I fell flat into a puddle of pee. Everyone had been making fun of me for overpacking my daypack... but thank GOD, I had an extra change of clothes in there!! However, my guide had taken my daypack with him.... so... I had to basically get it back discreetly and get my bearings before I could explain to him what on earth was going on. You lose a lot of humility on that mountain.

I was heartbroken. I was in my tent... absolutely crushed, and exhausted... unable to call home, get any kind of internet connection... anything... I wanted my wife. I just wanted to be able to talk to her and tell her that I was coming down, but that I was still okay... I was just making the decision *while* I was still OK.

It was a rough night, but I did sleep. Even after what I'm going to tell you in the next post...

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