Mount Kilimanjaro Trip Report (#4051)
- Signed By: John Connaughton
- Date submitted: September 06, 2004
In 1972 I hitchhiked from Johannesburg, RSA, up to Nairobi, Kenya. Since the road passed Kilimanjaro I got out and went to climb it. You are supposed to have a whole big party to do that but the path is obvious, so I just walked up. All you really need are decent hiking shoes and decent lungs. (This is the 32 mile trail from the Kibo Hotel.) The 1st day I made the 2nd hut, and on the next I made the 3rd fairly early but too late to try for the summit. So I waited. I ate my box of cookies and drank water. And smoked my cigarettes. The air was so thin anyway I couldn't sleep, and with nothing like aspirin I wasn't very comfortable. Long before dawn I gave up any hope of sleep and started out for the top. In the dark perhaps I lost the path. I found myself on a scree where each step up meant an equal slide down. When the sun came up I was still not at the top. So I just sat down where I was to watch it come, smoked my last cigarette, and then headed back down. By evening I was at the bottom again. Going up I had run into one small party coming down and that was it. The mountain was mine alone, and when I was way up above where even insects don't go because there's nothing to eat it was so quiet Iheard my own heartbeat as I marched along. You who have been there too know it is an epiphanic experience. I got one of the worst sunburns of my life up there, and one of my greatest single memories. But I didn't quit smoking for another 4 years, and that one stupid and ugly habit alone I blame for the last 200- odd meters that separated me from the top. Someday I'm going back to finish those few steps.