--kilimanjaro

 
 

"Hey, this isn't so bad... I think I actually managed to get some sleep. How about you? Oh, not that much hey? That's OK, you'll see, the adrenaline will kick in soon. How's your head feeling? You took how many pills? Two to start... hopefully it won't be that bad..."

Set on the Eastern flanks of Africa lies the "little hill" of the Chaga tribe. Scaled countless times since the late 1800's, we still continue to queue up every year to maybe say that we looked out over the plains from the top. I can't help but think that the human condition has well and truly kicked in for all of us here. Brightly coloured adverts for every outdoors adventure company you can think of, we march bravely off for glory! Sprightly and chipper with chatter and laughter bouncing off the thick dark trunks of the forest trees, we ascend in single file to get to the top of the hill. "Because it's there" soon became the most ridiculous reason to justify this; "to prove our worth" kicked in soon after, followed by "I am significant" and then a jumbled mess of irrational emotion. But that all came later.

"I'm starting to feel a little cold now... stupid hand warmers don't work at all! How are you doing? What? I can't hear you... Fine? OK, that's good. Why on earth are we doing this at this time? I mean I can't see anything! I know, I know... I should have got a head torch... but there are so many here anyway. Look at the line of them up ahead, it goes on for ages!"

As I look around, I see a truly unique and at times, haunting landscape. It is as though we have been secretly ferried off to Mars in our sleep, with all signs of lush green just a faded memory now. We are enveloped in a treacle of cloud with at times only a relatively small window to peer through onto the oddly shaped rocky ground. Huge spires of black bulbous deformity rise up at us out of the cloud as we slowly trudge onwards. The will is getting weaker now. The only signs of life left are the giant senecio plants, found no where else in the world and the ravens that circle us, black winged harbingers of doom ready to pick off the weak. Well, maybe that's just the thinning air conjuring up a more deadly scene than I give credit to.

"The sun's coming up soon, the sun's coming up soon, please let the sun come up soon... Agh, my shoulders feel as though they are being ripped off... when is this going to end?"

It has been tough but not bad so far. I dread tomorrow's ascent, the final push. We've circled the bedazzling Uhuru for days now, creeping ever closer, gaining a respect for her that is well deserved, for it is not the disrespectful that shall walk her fine flanks to the peak. I find myself bowing in supplication to her will... shall I be one of those she allows to grace her presence with my foot falls?

"Are you OK? I'm tiered... really tiered and I can't feel my fingers. How's your head feeling? Yeah? That's great... must be the cold numbing the pain. But look where we are! Can you believe it? That's one helluva sunrise! Well done... I'm so proud of you... yeah, you know me, I always cry! We can make it from here, I know we can... just one hour to go, we can make it from here..."