July 15, 2012
We awoke around 6:45 am to pack up and get ready to leave Camp 1 by 8 am. Unsure of what to expect today, no one was quite certain how to dress. Still chilly, we were thrilled to see that breakfast was composed of hot water for tea and coffee, steaming porridge, eggs, sausage, toast and fresh fruit. That was seriously our breakfast. On a mountain. Absolutely amazing.
Probably a little too stuffed, we set off. Day 2 was a bit more of an eye opener of what we had actually signed up for- there was none of the gradual incline of Day 1 to get us started. No, Day 2 started and ended with an endless series of wooden steps built into the mountain, steep and winding. Our next camp would be at 3500 m but climbing today took somewhat longer (we were told it would be around 5 hours, but ended up finishing in around 4) as there was literally no break from ascending up the switch backs in the mountain. Some of us has had expected it to continue to be cold… but in the humidity of the jungle and with the exertion of endless stair climbing, it got hot, fast. Hilariously, Odion stripped down to a t-shirt and boxers and continued to climb only in that until Camp 2.
At this point- I need to say a word about the porters. As we all marched behind Fred (pole pole, of course) carrying only day packs containing water, some snacks, maybe our extra layers, the porters scurried up the mountain in half the time, with full packs of our backpacks, sacs of rice, other food, even the eggs, balanced on their heads. We were literally in awe of these men. And also, incredibly grateful.
Our climb on the second day would probably best be described in photos, which sadly, take too long to upload here. We remained behind Frederick, who was ever watchful for wild animals, and slowly the rainforest scenery faded away behind us and instead the path became rockier and sandier, with lower trees and shrubs replacing the lush greenery. Still an endless winding, up and up. Finally, we arrived at Camp 2: Saddle Hut at 3500 m. We were afforded out first clear views of the summit of Little Meru (3800 m), the crater in front of Mt. Meru and finally, the peak of Mt. Meru itself.
Sweaty and tired, the girls stretched out on sleeping bags laid out in the sun, to dry and relax. Soon after, our guide, Elias, told us that lunch would be served shortly and that we would then have the opportunity to climb the Little Meru summit. I’ll have to let Beth or someone else fill you on in this bit, as to be honest, I was not feeling the greatest at this point. I had already picked up a cold from the adorable but nonetheless germy toddlers at Nkoaranga Orphanage and felt I’d be better left to rest before our summit attempt that night.
(In retrospect- I am so sad I wasn’t feeling better as the photos the others brought back from Little Meru were spectacular. Nonetheless, I do feel it was the right decision for me at the time.)
After another delicious, steaming warm dinner, our group returned to our cabins to try to get 3-4 hours of sleep. It was about 7 pm at this point and we would be waking at midnight to prepare for our climb to the top.