Karanga to High Camp Via Barafu

Jul 17

We took off in the first group this morning with Paula, Sierra, Monique, Nan, Doug, Stephanie and Gina. Its nice to be walking with Stephanie as it has been a few days since we’ve walked together. After the first break Nan and Doug drop back to go at a more gradual pace. At the second break they catch up with us and Nan is really having some bad pain in her neck from the pack. We can all tell that it is really hurting. Stephanie is working on her PHD in Physical Therapy and she starts working on Nan. It really seems to help. She decides to stay with Nan to make sure her neck is okay. It is really wonderful to see this kind of caring between team members who were complete strangers just days ago.

The gradual incline gives way to a rocky climb up to a plateau. We think this is going to be Barafu camp and lunch but its just another “false” summit. There are some folks camped at this point but we later figure out why – Barafu is really over crowded and there are no good places to put tents that are flat. We finally make it up the next set of rocks to Barafu and August directs us to the tent where we have to sign in. We walk by the public toilets on the way to the sign in and it doesn’t smell very good. We make our way around the sign in hut and see out blue dining tent hanging on the edge at the far side of the camp. There is no room for them to set up our bathroom tents so anybody who can’t wait is stuck with the public toilets. I decide to wait. I am feeling great at this point. Nathan’s shoulders are bothering him so I give both him and Inez a quick shoulder rub while we wait for lunch to be ready. Paula is looking like she doesn’t feel well and I think either the altitude or the pace or both are getting to her. I think she needs some rest. Lunch is ready and we head in to the tent which is getting too warm from the sun. I eat some soup and a few chips quickly and decide that is probably enough at this point – don’t want to upset the stomach. I look over and Paula looks like she’s about to throw up. Monique is chowing down on her favorite Pringles – we joke about it because she never eats chips at home. We head out to high camp as soon as we can, anxious to get there and start “resting”. I am also anxious for one of our potty tents now that I have eaten and once again the demons in my stomach are calling out.

Its a scramble up to high camp over some rocks. We pass the Germans that we’d seen several days earlier. They are on their way back from the summit and they look pretty good. We congratulate them and they tell us it is really, really cold at the top. Some of their lips are a funny bluish red color. I wonder what that’s all about. We get up to high camp joking about who is going to get to the bathroom first.

The porters are setting up tents and one almost blows away. We speculate about who goes without a tent if one blows away. That would be terrible at this camp. There are no bowls of water to wash up at this camp. There is no water source close by and all of the water had to be carried up here today so there is none to waste on washing. We get our tent set up and try to relax for a bid while we wait for the others to arrive. We are getting anxious – tonight we will start for the summit. I wonder how we can possibly sleep at all tonight before we leave.

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