Kilimanjaro: At Mandara Huts (end of day 1)

Directly from my diary. Logged August 13 at 4:40pm

When I reached Mandara Huts (after dark on August 11), I was very pleased and excited to have reached my first goal. I suppose along the way I wasn’t certain I would.

I forgot to mention that Amy and Renate had gone on ahead of me at a much faster pace. And Peter had sent a porter ahead of all of us early on to a reserve a small hut for Amy, Renate, and me so we’d have privacy rather than stay in one of the 24-person huts.

So I arrived, registered my name, and went to our hut.

I arrived and registered at Mandara a bit after dark

I arrived and registered at Mandara a bit after dark



The huts are triangular in shape, I suppose for the rain to slide off. Ours had four cots. Most small huts do. There is one cot on each side and on the third side two cots lie one above the other. Amy took the high cot, Renate the one below that and I had one of the side cots. Each cot is a little wooden rectangle with planks underneath, raising it above the floor of the hut a bit, and a mattress and pillow on top. You just throw your sleeping bag on top and you’re ready!

On the fourth cot we all threw our day packs and duffle bags. That cot was our really messy cot. Above each cot is a small wooden shelf. Here’s what I have on that shelf as of this moment:

My toiletry kit (so it’s readily available for my many pee runs), my head lamp (so I can see at night during my pee runs), toothpaste and toothbrush, 1st aid kit (so I can find my Diamox easily), anti-fungal powder (after wearing heavy woolen socks non-stop for three days I have athlete’s foot; I wear socks even at night while sleeping to keep warm), and some tissues (my nose normally runs when it’s cold).

On my cot with me – in addition to my super-warm sleeping bag – I have my down jacket and wind jacket (to put on and off easily during the night when I need to pee), water (to keep it warm next to my body), fleece jacket (for warmer times of the day), a book to read, my camera (to keep warm), and my passport/money pouch.

At Mandara Camp, I immediately started changing into dry camp clothes and was rather rushed about it. That was a bad move. I should have given my body time to cool down first. My headache that had started in the latter half of the hike up began getting worse. Since we arrived past dark, dinner was immediately ready, so we hurried out to the dining hall. Our cooks had laid out the food on one of the tables and poured me my soup. I just took one sip and that was it. I had a pounding headache and was very nauseous. I couldn’t even think about food. So Renate took me to our hut and I was instructed by everyone to sleep. I took two Panadols and lay down. They told me they’d bring me some food in case I felt up to eating later that night. I was so worried about praying Maghrib and Isha (I prayed Zuhr and Asr at the mountain gate before the hike) that I half-heartedly did tayamum on the cabin floor and prayed lying down saying the words but making no movement at all. Moving anything hurt. Then I slept for four hours and woke up at nidnight feeling mildly better. I had to pee (of course) so I layered up and looked for a nice dark spot near the hut. There was no way I was going to walk all the way to the toilets.

Throughout the night I tried different peeing spots and eventually decided my favorite spot was just to the side of the hut where the night shade made it particularly dark. Of course anyone could have come out of their hut with their headlamp on and spotted me, but I really could care less. It gets to that, you know.

During one of my pee breaks that night – while I was peeing further away from the hut near the forest – I suddenly heard a thump followed by a yell in the direction of our hut. It was Renate. She had missed a step (the steps to our hut were narrow, wooden planks with holes in between) and fell all the way down to the concrete slab below. I zipped up and semi-hurried over. She was fine. She was too tired to check her injuries but she woke up in the morning to a stiff back and neck and a small wound on her knee.

After my first pee I did my best to drink water (hydrating oneself is important at high altitude) and eat. I could only manage to eat pieces of breat and potato and a bite of fish. Each time I woke up, I tried to eat another bite. It was hard work but I knew that’s what I needed to do.

By morning I was feeling only a bit better but as I started getting up and

I (left) can barely support myself as we take a picture at Mandara before we start the 2nd day of the hike

I (left) can barely support myself as we take a picture at Mandara before we start the 2nd day of the hike

 slowly moving around in the fresh air I felt relatively better. I ate a small bowl of oatmeal, which was an achievement. We packed, met out on the green and did some stretches.

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