Sunday, March 11, 2007

Gushingly Grateful

A week ago we were starting the long flight home, still weary but elated by our Kilimanjaro efforts, whether we summited or not.
Normally on our walking holidays I manage to keep a fairly detailed journal of what we get up to each day. Sometimes it drives Mrs M nuts (like when I demand scores out of 10 for the soup course on the 3rd day of the Asturias stroll, or that pudding creation at the Hotel Adler in the Dolomites)....but even she admits it's a nice memento to look back on in our dotage, after it's all tarted up and enshrined with train tickets, photos and dog-eared restaurant bills.
I took a very flimsy writing pad to Kili, with the intention of scribbling down the bare factual bones of each day. At the end of the first day's Kili trek I had jotted down the following: 12:40 Machame Gate 1,800m-->5:40 Machame Hut Camp 2,950m. Pulse rates 20 minutes after hitting camp: Andy & Neil 60; Gill 84; Jon 88; Eszter 96; Steve ?
And that's it. Nothing else until we were back at base 5 interesting days later. By the time we reached our day 2 camp I was pretty sick, and the focus was on survival rather than creative writing. The ever-decreasing-drop latrine took a hammering all night, I was alternately shivering and sweating, and I really did think that it might be all over for me. And that kind of set the tone. Each day needed total focus on the challenges of that day's trek, with the magnificent Kibo peak constantly beckoning as the holy grail. And being completely non-campers, Mrs M and I struggled with the daily logistics of inflating thermarest sleeping mats (well, to be honest, she did), unfurling sleeping bags (Mrs M again), juggling kit between rucksacks and kit-bags...and generally trying to exist without standing up (note to Explore: any chance of larger tents for our next attempt....?)
We did succumb to an after-dinner game of ShitHead in the mess tent one night, otherwise it was a head-torched stagger home after supper for as much sleep as possible. And in Mrs M's case, sadly that wasn't much in the face of my peeing, crapping and snoring antics.
So all in all, the journal is a blank canvas. We did come up with some Descriptive Monikers for the Kili 6 back at The Mountain Inn after that wonderful first post-Kili beer:
Mrs M: Disturbingly Obsessed (or now Inflatingly Fatigued?)
Neil: Weirdly Focused
Jon: Disarmingly Frank (or Annoyingly Pedantic...take your pick)
Eszter: Determinedly Slow...or just plain Doggedly Determined
Steve: Youthfully Vigorous (not)
Andy: Gushingly Peeing (but not Enthusiastically Scribbling)
And since landing back on UK terra firma I've jotted down some collective terms to remember each enclave of our group by:
Peter, Steve, Jim & Richard - The Jocks (literal and honorary)
Leanne & Anne - Planet Canada
Simon, Terry & Shaun - The Wiltshire Boys
Kane - Psycho Mountaineer
Andy, Gill, Steve, Jon, Eszter & Neil - The Kili 6
Hellen - Relentlessly Positive
And when I say enclave, that doesn't begin to encapsulate how well the whole group integrated and helped each other. 6 days, 5 nights and 5,895m is a whole lot of enforced togetherness, and fortunately there was not one person who failed to enter into the great spirit of Hellen's Last Kili Hurrah. Apart of course from the tragedy of Jim's AMS-enforced descent on the morning of day 4 - a heartbreaking moment. Thanks for making the effort to meet us on the Final Stretch near Mweka Gate, Jim....that created a fitting symmetry when it would no doubt have been very easy for you to wait by the pool for our return.
I got some hard copies of my pics printed off today...they will end up in a wonderful personalised Kili journal given to me by old chums StuPot and McMaggie Anderson, that I can look back on from my rocking chair (in a couple of years time) and think: wow, we really did that, didn't we?
And I also smugly framed my Summit Certificate today. At the moment it's in the lounge but I fear it will be a constant reminder to Mrs M of how her incontinent husband and sleep-deprived thermarest-inflating sleeping-bag-unfurling efforts prevented her from perhaps it would be maritally advisable to tuck it away in a dusty cupboard for a few years.....
Anyway, enough of Randomly Rambling. Thanks everyone for an unforgettable trip. 2 months from today will be my 50th birthday. I'll slip gently into my dotage and rocking chair, but at least I'll have some great memories of Kilimanjaro and what I achieved in my relative youth.


Blogger Neil said...

"I'll slip gently into my dotage and rocking chair"

No you won't. You'll continue to show up us so-called youngsters by sprinting up hills and mountains.

2:05 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home