Monday, January 10, 2011

December 23, 2010

December 23, 2010

Justin and I were awoken by the porters this morning around 5:45am. Not on purpose or anything, but just because they were preparing for today. Our tent is right next to the mess tent so we heard the banging of dishes a lot. I don't have a headache at all today, which is awesome. My slight headache from yesterday went away during my sleep. (For you non-climbers out there, altitude is a huge deal when climbing mountains this big. The change of altitude causes less oxygen to get to the brain which creates headaches. The best way to beat these headaches is to acclimatize, which means to take several days getting to the top and some of those days you go up really high and then drop back down to sleep. This helps your body adjust to the altitude better and makes the chances of headaches less and less.)

I do wish I would have gotten more sleep though. I got probably 4 hours total. Most of it came after 2am. Everything before that was on and off sleep. Not sure why I couldn't sleep. I've camped several times before so it's not about being outside or in a tent. Could be that I am just anxious for the rest off the hike. Off to breakfast now.

Today we hiked from the Machame Gate to Shira Plateau. We actually went higher than that and then came down into Shira Camp (see statement above about acclimatizing). Today, Thomas (our lead African guide) led the hike and he went much slower than Robinson did yesterday. It was incredibly steep pretty much all day long, but it wasn't too bad because of how slow we were going (the slow pace also helps with acclimatizing. Also, this mountain is know for it's guides saying "pole pole" which in Swahili means "slowly". The guides and porters say it to the hikers all the time as a reminder to slow down for the best chance to make it to the top). Although, at the end of the hike, my feet were killing me. Anytime it sprinkled we all stopped and put rain gear on and then it would stop and we took it all off. This process happened three times during this hike. I still got a couple of small headaches through the day, but they usually went away when I drank more water and did my pressure breathing (pressure breathing is simply breathing at a slower pace, but taking deep breaths every breath).

I'm hoping I'll sleep better tonight. We busted out the diamox today and I took 125mg at lunch. (Our doctor prescribed us 250mg and we were suppose to take one every day in the morning. Instead, we mostly broke it in half and took half in the morning only. The reason for this is because our headaches were very small and also because the downside of diamox is it's side effects. It makes you have to pee a lot and it makes your toes and fingers tingle as if they've fallen asleep, but they never wake up. Very annoying symptoms to deal with if you don't have to. As we increased in altitude, we started taking both halves in the day). We have a doctor on the hike with us, an ortho doctor...lucky me! Speaking of, my foot hasn't been hurting me at all!!! The sun was out for the first part of our hike, but then we got into the clouds and it pretty much went away. We literally hiked through the clouds today. White mist that resembled fog kept blowing on us and with it came the cold. It's not too cold right now, but it will be when the sun goes down. And it definitely will be tomorrow.

Tomorrow our hike is longer in time, about 6-8 hours, but not near as steep. We do climb to Lava Tower, which is at 15,100 feet and also the highest Justin or I have ever been. We climb to Lava Tower and then hike back down through a gully into Barranco Camp (more acclimatizing). As soon as we got to Shira Plateau, the cooks had popcorn for us again as well as chicken drumsticks which were delicious. Justin went to take a nap because he had a really bad headache. Ang Jangbu was worried about him so he took his oxygen level (our guide had a device that you put on your finger and it read the amount of oxygen that you were bringing in. At sea level, an average person takes in 99% oxygen. We passed this contraption around every night at dinner. It became known to us all as "the oxygen game" and we made it a competition to see who was bringing in the most oxygen. Jangbu says most people want to do it privately. Looks like we have a group of some incredibly competitive people). When Jangbu took Justin's oxygen levels, it was at 80%. He said it was a slightly low for that altitude, but nothing alarming and that sleep and water should help it, and it did. We're about to eat dinner, which tonight includes chicken, rice and soup. I'm hoping that after dinner and some good sleep I'll be refreshed tomorrow.

Beginning Elevation: 9,843
Ending Elevation: 12,598
Elevation Gain: 2,755
Calories Burned: 2,947
Miles Hiked: 5 miles
Time Hiking: 6 1/2 hours
Justin Oxygen: 80
Marcie's Oxygen: 83

Here's my pics from this day:



Very steep stuff!


Porters passing us as always. As every day goes by, we're more amazed that these guys can balance these things on their head and climb a steep section with perfect poise.


Love the view!


Shira Camp

And here's my video of Shira Camp. In the video I say we're at 12,000 feet, but it's really 12,598:


Brittany said...

I am so completely amazed by this! I cannot believe y'all did this and I cannot wait to hear the rest!!