July 15, 2002 After the long descent
The last time I called in with dispatch, of course it was from Uhuru, the very top of Kilimanjaro. Now the morning of the 15th I am looking at that very far off in the distance. We moved 16 hours yesterday. After I called you from the summit we went back to the high camp, it was our full camp that we use everywhere on the mountain, we got back to our dining tent, the group of the 10 of us, where it’s been really cozy all throughout the trip. When they came in exhausted from their hours of climbing through the darkness up to the summit of Kilimanjaro, at that point with the morning light, one of the Chagga staff came up with a bowl of washing water before we went into the tent and said congratulations, that was certainly in order. Pretty impressive. We pretty much appreciated 15,700 feet; we started with sliced fruit, watermelon, papaya, orange, a really nice mushroom soup, and then we really chowed-down in the fried chicken, grilled cheese sandwiches and boiled potatoes and carrots.
We are planning to rest for a couple of hours before we descend it the rest of the way down to the lower camp, at 10,000 feet which is still above the forest. But we are going to the forest really quickly today, so after the rest, we begin walking and as I said 16 hours to get to this point on the mountain. We are going the rest of the way off the mountain today. The group is excited about safari and the trip home but I am listening to the quiet chatter of the porters as they pack up and I know that everyone is going to have their cameras out and enjoying some last images of this beautiful mountain before we walk the rest of the way off to begin our journeys. Now the only thing we miss, it is our porta-potty, we’ve commented, we’ve had our own, actually Richard called it the green machine. We’ve used our own toilet which is kind of familiar, including a seat like we have it back home and that’s what allowed us to use our own camps as we moved across the mountain rather than staying in an established Park Camps. This has been a pretty popular accessory, I would say, to this trip. The Parks services asked us to provide one at this kind of camp, our green machine and the rest of the images of the mountain will soon be behind us as we moved on, because as you know tomorrow, some of us will be flying to Serengeti and of course Charles and Deke are going to be beginning their journeys home. We got a long day and I will report to you after our walk off the mountain went.
Tonight we are going out for a nice celebratory dinner in Arusha. I am looking today at these folks, resting and napping and amazed at what they did, as they look back up at the glacier summit of Kilimanjaro.