Breakfast, medical check, gear up. It is cold in Barranco camp; we are at the edge of the cloud line. We can look up to see clear sky, but looking down into the valley is useless. It is obscured by clouds. By the time we woke up this morning, the mist and dew from the night was frozen in a thin layer on the outside of the tent. It is normal to see us all in 2 or 3 layers of clothing, with jackets and wool caps on.
I forgot to mention that yesterday Kerry decided it was time to wash a few items of clothing. Everyday, as we arrive into camp, we have a bucket of warm water waiting for us with a few bowls and some soap. We mainly use this to wash our faces and hands, but Kerry is using it to wash some clothing. TIP: I brought clothespins and camp soap for washing so I wouldn’t have to pack a full set of socks and undies. You will have a line in both your tent and the mess tent to hang clothing (if you don’t mind hanging things around other people). But be careful when you decide to wash – when you get to the camps at high elevation which are cold, nothing drys. You are better off to just bring enough clothing for the hike without needing to rinse off or wash even a few undies.
We start off the hike today with a very steep walk, and when we hit the wall it is like taking 3 stairs at a time, rock climbing with a day pack. But its challenging and such a good break from the pole pole over dust and rocks that we all love it. There is only one place that we need a little help, and one other place where we need to use 2 hands and hug the rocks where the trail is very narrow. I do not have a fear of heights, but as I hike along this particular piece of the trail, I realize that anyone with a fear of heights would be very uncomfortable. That narrow portion of the trail, where you have to use both hands, falls steeply into rocks below. We take short breaks, but do not stop until we are at the top. All three of us make it easily and deem it the best part of the hike so far.
Then we transition onto the moonscape. This is a portion of the mountain that is a bowl and we are walking across the top, in volcanic dust and rocks with little to no vegetation. The clouds start rolling in and we start to add layers. As we get to the other side of the bowl, the guides point out camp in the distance. Between us and camp is a valley, and yes, we have to walk down to the Karanga river and then back up to Camp. Boo, I really hate putting in effort to gain elevation only to lose it again. We start down a twisting dirt path, narrow and slippery. As we descend the clouds are replaced by sun, and the layers come off. We cross the river and start slowly back up the valley. The path is tough, even at a pole pole pace.
All in all, we have had a tough day. It has taken us just over 4 hours to hike 4.1 miles and we have not eaten lunch. We have a late lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and corn fritters. They are delicious. The grilled cheese sandwiches have tomatoes and peppers in them and we finish up with fruit. We have a lot of free time today – and will again tomorrow. These are short hiking days to keep the elevation gains to reasonable levels. We do some laundry, we explore the camp, look up information on the strange plants, and then nap, read and write in our journals. Until nest post, happy camping!