Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower to Barranco Camp
• Elevation: 12,500-13,044 ft. (3810-3976 m)
• Maximum Elevation: Lava Tower, 15,190 ft. (4630 m)
• Distance: 11 km
• Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
• Habitat: Alpine Desert
After another chilly night (Matt’s wrist watch indicated 35° F inside the tent in the morning!) we awoke to another beautifully sunny day. Mt. Meru was in full view with cotton ball-like clouds spread like a blanket below and all around the peak. The first half of our day was spent gradually ascending toward Kili.
Sadly we lost our cook today. Mosa was forced to descend from the mountain to deal with a painful toothache that was getting worse with the increase in altitude. A second porter departed with him, and so our support crew now has shrunk to 12. Their hard work never ceases to amaze us. It’s a wonder we still have any who are willing to continue on with us.
As we approached Lava Tower at 4630 m, the high point of today’s trek, the Lemosho Trail joined up with three other routes (Ungwe, Machame and Shira), and the number of trekkers, guides and porters on the trail increased dramatically. From here on we would often hear someone shout “porter” from behind as a clue to step aside and let the hardworking support crews shuffle past with their heavy loads balanced on their shoulders and heads.
Click to enlarge pictures and view as a slideshow:
After lunch in the shelter of Lava Rock, we descended out of the desert ecozone and back into heather moorland. The trail wound itself closer to the mountain and below Uhuru Peak, which loomed ominously above us, capped in puffy white clouds and draped in hanging glaciers. The trail followed a canyon cut by a small stream lined with lobelia and giant senecio plants, giving it a look reminiscent of Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave Desert in the American Southwest.
As the Baranco Wall came into view we could see the camp below. Barranco Camp sits at 3900 m directly below Uhuru Peak, and we enjoyed the stunning views of both in the late afternoon light.
This camp sits at the intersection of many trails, and there is a palpable sense of excitement amongst all of the hikers. Tomorrow we tackle our camp’s namesake, the Barranco Wall, where the real climbing begins. After a hearty dinner, we are off to bed. Lala salama!
Here’s our video recap of the day:
A note from Alison: Okay, I know what you are thinking. At least, I know what I was thinking when I watched my segment in today’s video: Geez Louise, she looks old! As always, Matt was a supportive husband and tried to convince me that I usually don’t look so terrible. There were simply lots of factors, he argued, that contributed to my haggard appearance: numerous days of hiking at extreme altitudes, bitterly cold temperatures, unbearably dusty conditions, lack of quality sleep, and not showering for four days straight…they’re all bound to take their toll. Part of me really wanted to throw that clip to the cutting room floor, but putting it in is just the kind of sacrifice I am willing to make for you, dear readers. Besides, as the old saying goes: the camera adds ten
pounds years, right? Which clearly begs the next question: exactly how many cameras were on me?