J.D. Baldwin's Kilimanjaro Diary - Day 3

Day 3 (Wednesday, 2 March 2011), 1457 local time

Another night of poor sleep, although at least I was warm. I slept a good four hours, woke around 2 am, laid awake until 3 am, then decided to go outside to pee. It was quite cold (around freezing), but there was no wind at all, and the sky was brilliantly clear. I've never seen stars like that -- they barely even twinkled! After over five months in the southern hemisphere, I finally got a look at the Southern Cross! (I've seen it before, in Brazil and South Africa, but not yet on this trip.) Speaking of the heavens, last night before bed, I also got a good view of the Large Magellanic Cloud, which we never get to see in the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere. Very cool.
Good call on the side hike to Shira Cathedral! It was tough getting up to it, but we were rewarded for the effort with some indescribably spectacular views of the far side of the Shira Ridge, not to mention the vista of the Shira Plateau, now mostly behind us.

JD in the morning at Shira 1, Kibo in background
Morning in Shira 1 Camp, Kibo in background

Simon leading us toward Shira Cathedral
Robert leads the way to Shira Cathedral (the pointy hill right of center).

JD at the top of Shira Cathedral
Standing atop Shira Cathedral, Shira Ridge visible in background, clouds rolling in from the south.
Photo by Simon.

Claire and JD descending from Shira Cathedral
Descending off Shira Cathedral with Claire, trail is visible to left, giving an idea of the steepness of this path.
Photo by Anne.

After descending from Shira Cathedral, we hiked over a few low rises and met up with a wide dirt road leading from a helipad, both of which are used for emergency mountain rescue only.

Friendly helipad
We decided that maybe the helipad should be a little bit friendlier.
Photo by Claire.

After that, more steep trail climbing. We didn't reach Shira 2 until almost 2 pm, so lunch came late today. Most of us decided to take a short nap afterward, as we will be taking another "optional" acclimitization hike up the trail at 4:30 pm. As of 3 pm, there is very light rain sprinkling on us, not enough to get anything wet through the tents or anything, but if it gets worse things could become unpleasant.
The printed plan said we'd be lunching at Shira 2 camp, then pressing on to Moira Camp to spend the night, but our guides inform us that that is an error; we will have dinner then spend the night here at Shira 2. Moira isn't very far from here, so it doesn't seem to matter.


The acclimitization hike was easy. Most of us, I think, felt like going a little farther, but we trust our guides. Upon our return, we had a spectacular sunset, the sun going down next to Meru.

Sunset from Shira 2 Camp, Meru visible in haze
Sunset from Shira 2 Camp, Meru visible in haze.
Photo by Nigel.

After sunset, the Southern Cross was easily visible tonight, just as it was rising in the southeast. I pointed it out to the others, some of whom were very excited to see it for the first time.
Everyone in this group is getting along very well, and tonight we even discussed how happy we are that we were thrown in with such an excellent group. We spend a bit of time lightly disparaging the other group of Lemosho hikers, which I have dubbed Team Slacker (because they are slow and they skipped the side trip to Shira Cathedral). The name is catching on.
I confess that there is one individual in the group I expected to dislike from the moment I met him or her. Don't bother asking who it is, I won't tell. This particular individual has turned out to be very cool, so so much for first impressions.

Stats for Day 3:

Starting elevation (Shira 1 camp) 11,500' (3,505 m)
Shira Cathedral
12,130' (3,700 m)
Ending elevation (Shira 2 camp)
12,500' (3,810 m)
Resting heart rate (evening)

Day 4

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