Machame Route – 7 Days
Start – Machame Camp – 9,350 ft
End – Shira Hut – 12,500 ft – Total Elevation gain from start – 7,120 ft
*Chicago is at 573 ft above sea level. Denver is 5,470ft
Distance – 3.3 miles – I think this is more point-to-point than also considering the elevation. It felt like a lot more than a 5k.
Time – 6 hours and 45 minutes
Terrain - Mooreland - No Heathcliff or Hound of the Baskervilles sightings.
Gremlins – Stomach issues - I think from the food. I’ve stopped eating raw anything from fruit to vegetables. Took a pill hoping to help.
Day two started off with the routine, we would be in for the next five days.
- 6:30am wake up with hot beverage
- 7am hot water provided to wash
- 7:30am breakfast – porridge, bacon, eggs and bread with peanut butter
- 8:30am we begin our hike for the day
The day two hike was much different than day one. The terrain became rocky and uneven, aka the stairway from hell. No step was the same. Imagine looking at your couch in your home. One step might be the size of your cushion the next the armrest and possible a few the height of the back of your couch. I became thankful for all of the squats I had done in preparation for the hike.
The day was sunny for about the first 2 hours then the rain came in a steady drizzle. It was something you got used to after awhile and something we would live with for the next few days. The ground didn’t get slippery but you did become more aware of where you were putting your feet at all times. The elevation also became a lot more vertical. We could see where we were going and it didn’t look all that close. There were also a few high waterfalls and while most of the time you think, “How beautiful!” This time I thought, “Cool! Wait a second were crossing those? AT THE TOP POINT?”
After being cold and wet while walking, we found a flat area with rocks to sit on and eat lunch, in the rain. The highlight was hot carrot soup from our guides! Lunch was rather quiet. On the trail you find things as a group to discuss and our group never starved for conversation. We even enjoyed overhearing other groups along the way. One group in particular seemed to be a mix of strangers. I can tell you a young Danish boy, who had NO GAME!, insisted on chatting up the only girl about what a “bucket list was…” It became nauseating after awhile but a funny inside joke for our group that would come up every time we saw them on the trail. The groups of hikers were very multinational and there was always a genial hello to be said as you passed each other.
Another topic that also came up was - Pole, POLE! This doesn’t mean what you think because it isn’t about your poles and hiking. Pole, pronounced pol-a, refers to slow, slow. You don’t want to ascend fast and most of the hero’s racing up the mountain – Danish Guy! – would soon find the altitude takes time to acclimate to – slowly being one of the best approaches. We not only took our time to be safe but I also used Diamox to help with the altitude change. The only other pill I took regularly was for malaria. Diamox plus malaria pills at high altitude makes for VERY, VERY vivid dreams. I woke up a few times over the next few nights think, “What the fuck?”
With about 30 minutes to go and at the top of the days hike, the rain stopped and the sun kinda, sorta poked its nose out to warm us up. As we got in to camp, we all noticed right away the terrain was rocky and barren. The only animals to be seen were crows looking to eat scraps from the camp.
After our tea and dinner, the rain came back in a downpour. I wrote in my travel journal I didn’t think I would be warm again for a while. The summit day also didn’t seem all that close. It was about four days away, which seemed like a lifetime! I had my book to read but all my brain wanted to do was shut down. I crawled in to my sleeping bag in long underwear, two pairs of socks, a t-shirt while wearing my fleece to get some sleep.
Because you’re told and should drink 3L of water a day, you tend to need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night! I was lucky tonight that the rain had lightened and the second time stopped all together. It’s still kinda eerie to be in a camp, peeing in a special toilet in it’s own tent, surrounded by many sleeping people. There was little to no moon so I also needed a head lamp to light my way – this was mainly so I didn’t trip over any tent ropes and fall on my face.
Little did I realize, Day Three would be one of the hardest and longest hikes of the whole trip!
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Joe Campagna is the Chicago Food Snob. A former restaurant General Manager, Server and Chef you can find him on twitter or instagram @chifoodsnob. You can reach him through email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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