Today was our acclimatisation day. We would finish up only about 100 meters higher in Barranco Camp than our start from Shira Camp, however we would be walking to Lava Tower for lunch, gaining almost 700 meters in height.
We left camp at 8 and slowly climbed a dusty track. Today was a long walk, but it was good preparation for summit night and allowing our bodies to acclimatise to the altitude. We walked at a slow but steady pace. I had by now found a good rhythm in my walking. I always tried to stay towards the middle of the group. The pace at the front I usually found a little fast and it suited me to take my time in the middle.
Around 90 minutes into the walk, one of the assistant guides, Moses came up to me and asked how I was. I replied I was good, yesterday was tough, but I'm here for day 3. He said 'Good, you look very strong today. Keep drinking, and pole pole' Pole pole is Swahili for Slowly slowly. It is the motto of Kilimanjaro.
I was also used to the amount of water we needed to drink each day by now. On average I was drinking between 4 to 5 litres a day. We would always set off from camp with full water containers. My camelback/hydrarion pack was ideal as I could just sip water on the move, I tended to drink from my flasks on our breaks, we usually were able to refill water at lunch.
As we gained altitude towards Lava Tower, I started to feel a headache coming on. 'Oh no acute mountain sickness!' I got a bit worried, I was taking Diamox, what was this all about? It was a steady pressure like pain on my head. It wasn't excruciating but it was irritating.
I talked to my fellow trekkers and other people were experiencing the same. I slowed down and kept drinking water. I resisted the urge to take paracetamol and just tried to ride it out. We approached the impressive lava tower and had lunch. Our crew had raced ahead of us setting up our mess tent. When we sat down to eat, it was clear that the majority of the group were feeling ropey. Dean asked everyone to say how they were feeling. Pretty much all of us said we had a headache, some more severe than others, some people also felt sick. Dean and Amanda explained this was normal and nothing to be worried about and we should feel better later as we had a long descent to camp.
The afternoon was tiring. We descended over rocky terrain. It was hard going. My head was hurting, my knees were giving off signals that they were finding the going tough. But I pressed on. I found myself becoming a little seperated from the group. I was in the middle somewhere. I was walking with Jo, and Jon. We, like everyone else were getting tired, and feeling the effects of the days work. I stopped to get a second wind, one of the guides caught up with me and paced me into camp. Very slowly now I plodded on, just wanting a hot drink and a nice rest. Eventually I made it in to camp, actually I had caught the lead group up and we all signed in to camp together.
We enjoyed a lovely Spag Bol dinner. I got a good look afterwards at the awesome Barranco Wall that towered above us, that would be our first challenge tomorrow. I lay in bed thinking of the Barranco wall. It did look like it was going to be hard work, my head had cleared by now and I fell asleep feeling proud that I'd really dug in today.