|. Mount Kilimanjaro lies on the border of Tanzania and Kenya, just south of the Equator. To the west lies the Great African
Rift Valley, created by tremendous tectonic forces which also gave birth to a string of other volcanoes. One of these,
Mount Kenya, was originally much higher than Kilimanjaro.
The three summits of Mount Kilimanjaro, Shira, Kibo and Mawenzi are all of very recent origin. Shira and Mawenzi both
have suffered considerable erosion and only jagged peaks remain. Kibo, the central, youngest and highest peak has
survived as an almost perfect cone.
Although East Africa and nearby Olduvai Gorge is thought to be the cradle of mankind it is unlikely that early man would
have been attracted to the steep and cold slopes of Kilimanjaro at a time when it was probably very active and
dangerous. A Wachagga legend talks of Mawenzi receiving fire for its pipe from his younger brother Kibo. The Wachagga
who live on the fertile volcanic soils around the base of the mountain probably only came to the area about 300 years
ago thus this legend suggests very recent activity. Another of their legends talks of demons and evil spirits living on the
mountain and guarding immense treasures. Stories are told of a king who decided to go to the top, few of his party
survived and those who did had damaged arms and legs.
Arab and Chinese traders and historians make mention of a giant mountain lying inland from Mombasa or Zanzibar but
few early traders ventured into the interior of the continent. Slave traders passed below it and sometimes raided the
villages of the Wachagga but it was not till the middle of the 19th century that a more serious interest was taken in the
mountain and attempts were made to scale it.
In 1848 Johann Rebmann a missionary from Gerlingen in Germany while crossing the plains of Tsavo saw Mount
Kilimanjaro. His guide talked of baridi - cold, and of tales how a group of porters were sent up the mountain to bring back
the silver or other treasures from the summit.They came back only with water. Rebmann's report stimulated great
interest in Germany and in the following years several expeditions were organised; first by Baron von Decken then later
by Dr. Hans Meyer who finally stood on the highest point on the 5th of October 1889.
|My trek up Kilimanjaro would be best titled: "Climbing Kilimanjaro Ugly". I had trekked up Kilimanjaro 5
years ago with my biggest problem being lack of sleep. Seems high altitude makes sleeping difficult for
some people. So, I naively figured that my only climbing concern would be caffeine consumption.
Day 1 seemed to go smoothly. Made it to Mandara Hut without major problems. No hydration or
altitude problems. But my stomach started feeling somewhat queasy. Forgot that I get picky about
food when I climb, Ate only about half my dinner. Also noticed that my inner thighs were starting to
chafe. The hiking boots that I thought were worn in since I had bought them 5 years earlier, had been
worn only once - five years ago. I've been a runner before, and foot blisters were no stranger to me;
so, how bad could blisters become? But slept like a baby; so, figured this would be an easy trek up Kili.
Day 2. After the first hour, the trail went from lush vegetation to scrub brush, to rocks and more rocks.
The smell of the descending porters and guides became much more noticable. Just assumed that they
didn't shower daily. New problem: discovered that my sunscreen was missing. Wondered if Evelyn had
kept the sunscreen with her in Zanzibar. Had little appetite for breakfast - just had tea and crackers.
Plus my inner thighs were becoming raw. My oxygen and calorie starved brain came up with the
solution of slapping some medical tape over my abrasions to prevent further pain.
|TALL WORLD TALES