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Night 7: Crater Camp

As we finished descending the scree slope and walked to the campsite, Kanini and the other porters came running out to congratulate us. It was their victory as much as it was ours. Kanini insisted on taking my pack, as he always did, and carried it the rest of the way and showed me to my tent.

We were the first ones in, and snacks were waiting. We had popcorn and hot ginger tea. I went to the tent and pulled out my journal but I was tired, my eyes were stinging, and all I could scrawl was ‘ successfully climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro!’. I lay down in the sleeping bag and listened to music, trying unsuccessfully to relax and fall asleep. I had hoped to walk over to the crater itself but that would have been another 1.5 hour round trip and I decided against it. Giuseppe and Stefano came into camp an hour or so later.

I did walk around a little, admiring the view of Furtwangler glacier just beside our camp.

Furtwangler glacier

Furtwangler glacier

It was extremely cold. They made one of the best dinners of the whole trip…french fried potatoes and grilled cheese & tomato sandwiches. Not much would have tasted good that night. Only a small number of the porters were at Crater Camp with us and only two of the guides. We went straight to bed.

One of the special experiences of the trip, in addition to the scenery, was seeing the stars at night. The sky was exceptionally clear and dark as we got higher and higher and there were an unbelievable number of stars. That night, at 18,500 feet, I looked up and saw one of the most incredible views of my lifetime. It was as if someone had painted the Milky Way with a bright white wide paintbrush from one side of the sky to the other. The stars were so dense in every direction!

I don’t know how cold it was that night. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was well below 0degF. Anything I cared about protecting went in the bottom of the sleeping bag, including camera batteries, Rachel’s tanzanites, and water bottles. Like usual, the Diamox was sending me outside to the bathroom every couple of hours. I don’t think I really slept at all.

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