I could not sleep. I had this weird tingling feeling on my lower lip. I kept on putting lip balm on it, but it just did not go away. I finally fell asleep though only to wake up later with my lower lip completely swollen. It felt like an allergic reaction, but I could not figure out what had caused. Managed to sleep until the morning somehow and remembered that Christine, on of our guides from Maximum Adventures, had some antihistamin still left so asked if she has one hoping it would help.
During breakfast I found a soul mate James who had similar issue. We came to the conclusion it was not an allergic reaction (or it kind of was…) but we had sunburn on our lip! The one day I did not have my sunhat on as it was too cold when we left and naturally that was the cause. I had sunscreen on my face but not on my lips. I kept on putting lip balm on and it helped a little during the day, but I did not look pretty as you can see! Not to mention it was rather painful.
Anyway after the nights absolutely gorgeous ”view from space” it was a bit cloudy and all we could see were the clouds beneath us although we were sort on on a cliff with perfect view down. Packed everything for the final time and had breakfast. Then one more dance and sharing of the tips. It was a special moment and we all felt a bit sad that it was coming to an end.
Downhill… a long way!
Our guide told us it’s 18 kilometers to Marangu gate so I packed enough snacks and water to last me that distance. As we were descending now I was sure our pace would be much quicker and was looking forward to going downhill finally. I have always been really fast at going downhill and even beat my husband in that although he keeps on beating me going up so I suppose we got a good combination there and room for improvement for both. So I felt good despite the sun burned lip because I thought that I can finally get some proper exercise and sweat a bit maybe. I missed exercising although it sounds funny having just climbed to the 4700+ meters, but you know what I mean. Proper sweating and getting exhausted with heart rate up, that’s what I missed.
The path was really good, wide and very busy. People were going up and coming down constantly. It was hot, sunny and our pace was a bit too slow to my liking. There was not much vegetation yet but some nice looking plants. Since the pace was a bit slow tried to entertain myself with taking photos of the plants. I have a whole album of just photos of plants and will create a gallery of them at some point. We also saw some giraffes, or that’s what we were told they were. Can you spot the yellow dots? I helped you out a bit 😉 Without anyone telling I would not had any idea what to look for they were that far. Apparently usually they don’t wander this high they said.
Through the rain forest in rain naturally
Looking at my sports watch I could already predict that no way would we be at the gate around the time they had calculated as we were not even halfway (9k’s) by the time we got to Mandara hut.
We had our second snack break there and I had already run out of my water and food by that time. I did not really want to stop but wanted to keep going so we can get ”on the ground” again. For some reason the journey seemed to last forever. It’s probably all the waiting and excitement of getting back to hotel and then home that caused it. Maybe the exhaustion of the whole climb and your body accommodating to it. There was also constant worry what we would face on the ground with covid-19 situation and what other news there is. What has happened in the world in past few days?
It started raining just before we left Mandara hut, but I didn’t bother putting full gear on yet. Then after a few kilometers it was clear it’s not going to stop so we stopped to put on full waterproof gear. I am so happy I had those all the way up zip pants as it was pouring on and off until we got to the gate and it’s so much easier to open the zippers than to take off and put on the pants all the time. Saves so much time and hassle so highly recommend getting that kind of pants for any long hikes!
Suddenly I noticed being all alone with the guide at the front and the rest of the team was nowhere in sight and could not hear them anymore either. The guide at the front kept going and going and even me being quick at descent felt like he was going a bit too fast. Then again I had no choice but to keep up with him as I had no idea how far the others were and did not fancy standing in the rain in rain forest all by myself. Since it was raining there is no photos of that part of the trail either. My camera and mobile phone would have been soaking wet if I had tried.
They say that you need to also go down moderate pace not too fast due to the altitude because you can get symptoms also coming down. I had ran out of water a long time ago already and was really thirsty. It was hot and humid and I was tired. It felt like the trail never ends. There was nowhere else to go but straight ahead because the forest was so thick grown. The only option was the trail forward and it seemed to last forever.
Taking one step at a time and getting into the routine and flow of steps and I felt like I was in another world. I just kept going and going without thinking about anything except where I will land my next step as there was quite a few roots you could trip on. At some point I felt VERY disoriented and out of place. My mind started to wander to my youth and I just kept going and going with my legs moving in the exact same pace over and over again. It was a very strange feeling!
By the time my sports watch showed 18 kilometers and the sign at a crossroad said something like 3,4 kilometers I knew that we had been told a ”white lie” so we would not feel so stressed about the distance. I suppose anything over 20k’s they thought might be too much so they said it would be a bit less. I have learned this tactic already earlier and was suspecting it already around 15 kilometers.
Anyway like said I had no choice but to keep up with this guy and hope that one day it will end and we will get to the gate eventually. By the time we reached Marangu gate I had walked 22,63 kilometers in 6 hours and 8 minutes with approximately 1840 meters descent. My sports watch went on power save mode so did not catch all the data like exact descent. So our 18 kilometers ended up being 4,6 kilometers longer than we were told. I was starving, thirsty and so happy to see the people greeting us and yes… to get some FOOD!
I felt so accomplished having been able to keep up with the pace of this young guide so yes I did get my ”exercise” and feeling of exhaustion!
Everyone arrived on their own time a bit after us. Our cook had prepared lunch last time to us and we all had well deserved drinks with it. For some reason nobody wanted to touch the Snickers bars. No wonder, I had had enough of Snickers bars for years to come!
Back at the hotel
At the hotel we turned on our mobiles started getting all these messages from outer world. Naturally the connection at the hotel was not able to handle all the data coming in and out as it was not too good to start with, but managed to call my husband and kids a video call quickly. After that we all head out to our rooms, had a long waited shower and yes a nap in a comfy bed!
In the evening we had a dinner and got our certificates of participating the climb with a surprise proposal by our UK guide Michael to Christine. I don’t remember being that tired many times in and did not feel too good, mostly because I ate too much probably, so head to bed before midnight. Besides the idea of your own comfy bed was very tempting after the mattress in the tent that kept sliding downhill all the time…
I was so looking forward to going home. I had enjoyed every minute of the climb but now I could hardly wait to get home. I had no idea what kind of weather it would be, maybe finally snow? Maybe not… It was hard to think of Finnish weather after Africa they are so different. We had one more day left before going home…