We got up at 6 a.m. and our morning was rather stressful: we needed to wash ourselves (warm water was cordially brought again right to our tents), to pack, to have a breakfast, and to get ready. At 7:10 a.m. we needed to start our hike.
The hike continued through the rainforest, but the vegetation was quickly changing. The trees around were getting lower and more sunlight was breaking in between the crowns of trees. Soon the rainforest changed into pine trees thicket, and later into bushes. We finally had a scenic view of green hills around.
We were lucky with the weather, but pretty unlucky with the number of porters and tourists. I thought we were going extremely slowly and we had to wait every porter and tourist to pass by. These frequent stops were distracting me from my pace and destroying my breathing pattern.
I asked a few times our guide to move a little bit faster, but he ignored me several times and was still going unbearably slowly. This made me very disappointed, stressed, and angry. I tried to think about something else and still enjoy the hike, but I could not: it was definitely a slow, tiring pace for me.
I asked others in the group and Hans Martin confirmed that the pace was too slow. At the next short stop I wanted a reconfirmation from all group members that we were too slow, but Steffen interrupted me right in beginning and I got even more furious inside me. I dropped the idea of explaining why the pace is not good for me. We were actually more standing than going: an endless line of portents was passing by. I just could not grasp why we could not go at the same pace as porters (they were not that fast uphill).
I asked everyone to stop and to discuss this. I approached the main guide again and asked whether we can speed up a bit and he replied: well, we should go slowly. It’s good for acclimatization. But not so slowly!, – thought I, but I didn’t want to argue and we continued walking like turtles until we reached the next camp, Shira 1.
I was very sad, tired, disappointed, but I tried to cheer up, smile, and still enjoy the weather, scenery and our lunch. I was also very sad that others in our team did not want to support me and to communicate with the guides. I was confronted with the guides only by myself.
We continued our hike to another camp, Shira 2, right after our lunch. I forgot about the incident and did not really care longer about the pace: we could finally see Kilimanjaro! The terrain got gradually flatter: we were now at the Shira plateau.
There were only some small bushes, no trees and just a magnificent mountain right before us. Also our guides started to go a bit faster. The path was free of hundreds of porters and tourists. We were suddenly all alone (All tourists probably stayed at Shira 1 and did not jump one camp like we did). Finally, I was happy again with the hike.
After a few hours we reached Shira 2 camp as usually our tents and dinner were ready. The camp is situated on a very beautiful spot with a view of Kilimanjaro on one side and clouds rolling over the Shira ridge on the other.
After dinner we had again our team discussion to check on each of us, to share highlights of the day and our concerns. At this dinner discussion Christian mentioned two situations when he was unhappy about me. One was during the hike to Shira 1 when I called out all guides and our team to discuss the pace.
Christian meant that by confronting the main guide I was questioning his authority and his experience of being a guide for so many years. Also I did it in front of other guides that could be considered humiliating. I put the main guide into a position when he could not say neither „yes“ nor „no“. In case of „yes“ the guide would give up his authority in front of others. In case of „no“ he would be too harsh on me. Christian was right and I felt an urge to apologize in front of the guides. The whole evening and the next day I was thinking of better words to apologize but in the end I just needed to say sorry.
The second thing Christian found disturbing was when I ran forward in front of the group right before the camp to take pictures on the rocks. The whole team had to wait for me to make our traditional picture in front of the camp sign. At that moment I was so excited about the spot with a magnificent view above the clouds that I forgot about everything and truly acted a bit selfish. I apologized for that before the team.
We went out of the kitchen tent to watch a sunset. The grandiose mountain Kilimanjaro was hanging over us. It was gradually turning from pink into darker colors as the sun went down. A view of the red sun disk going down behind the Shira ridge was even more enchanting: the sun was splashing warm pink light onto surrounding clouds. Far away behind that infinite blanket of fluffy clouds the summit of Mount Meru was piercing through and pointing high into the sky. It was a romantic, overwhelmingly warm and happy moment and a very good end of the day.
P.S. For more detailed overview of the day with pictures and videos, have a look at my Instagram stories titled “Kilimanjaro”.