Jan 18, 2014

Poa kichizi kama ndizi!

Poa kichizi kama ndizi means "cool like a banana" in swahili. I entertained myself on the mountain by practicing the few swahili words I had picked up so far, which at this point consisted of mambo and poa. The first time I heard "poa kichizi kama ndizi" in response to my "mambo" greeting, I was stumped. Poa que who?! Soon enough this common phrase was added to my vocabulary although I still don't fully understand the banana reference I like the way it sounds. 

Starting the day off with style

Today felt like test day. We’d be hiking 5.6 miles and reaching 15,000 feet of elevation at Lava Tower to test how our bodies respond to the elevation as part of the acclimatization process. The trek out the camp was a steep incline, seeming harder now that the air was thinner and my legs had 2 days of hiking on them. We hiked on one step at a time amusing ourselves with stories both real and sci-fi; thin air and high desert climate makes for a creative imagination. 

Lunchtime break

After a few hours of hiking and a few bars later I was hungry for real food, we had lunch boxes packed in our bags and intended to eat them at Lava Tower which although was only a few hundred feet away, seemed too far at this point. We stopped at a nearby rock formation to eat lunch and take a break. I settled down with my lunch of fried chicken, hard boiled egg, juice, bread (of course) and fruit; and before I could dig into any one of the items it started raining. 

We should have been used to the elements having their own agenda and schedule. In a matter of seconds we were caught in a complete downpour! We tossed our half eaten lunches back in our pack and quickly took the shelter of our ponchos and hiked on to Lava Tower.

We made it to Lava Tower! 

15,000 feet felt surprisingly good, it was cold and rainy at Lava Tower but I was still breathing. The air comfortably traveling in and out of my lungs made me feel a bit more confident in summiting this mountain although a lot could happen in the 4300 feet still remaining to the top but in this moment I felt good. We spent only a few minutes at Lava Tower and then made our descent to 13,000 feet where we would camp for the night. 

It was a beautiful descent with colorful rocks and waterfalls, even in the greyness the shiny rocks shimmered and caught my eye. I followed the group walking down at a much faster pace than we had taken coming up. Eventually we made it to Barranco camp, the rains had a cleared up and camp was dry. It was time to perform the evening rituals and call it a night.

No soup for you