The group is comprised of 14 climbers, 10 from the U.S., 2 students and their teacher from the school, and Madaraka Nyerere.
In addition to those 14 climbers, there’s me (Georgette Rocheleau) and Leroy (an Illinois friend of the school). We will be traveling around Arusha and Moshi with Father Leo and Father Kennedy.
We 16 and the two fathers all arrived at the Springlands Hotel in Moshi on Sunday evening (June 3), all having had uneventful, if painfully long, travel. After a short meeting, the 16 retired to their rooms with plans to meet in the dining area for a 6:30am breakfast. A helpful rooster began crowing (or whatever it is roosters do) at 5:00, so few overslept.
The outfitter, Zara Tours, provided each hiker with any gear needed for the climb. By 9:00 all duffel bags were carefully placed in large, yellow plastic bags. The 14 Hikers were ready. The 28 guides, porters, cooks, and assistants were on hand or already in place on the mountain, prepared to support the 14 in their quest to be Kiliwarriors and summit the great mountain.
Leroy and I were delighted to be able to accompany the climbers on the trip to the starting off point of their hike along the Lemosho trail. We had different ideas about how close the Springlands Hotel might be to the trailhead, but I don’t think anyone fully expected the adventure we embarked on.
Our first stop was at an equipment shop to pick up a couple of items the students need for the week: sunglasses and a head lamp. Only sunglasses were found there. Farther on we stopped at a grocery store where we purchased 36 1 1/2 liter bottles of water for the hikers’ first day supply. Nearby, headlamps were found.
Then began the RIDE. We were in a vehicle reminiscent of an army transport vehicle outfitted with bus seats. A metal ladder up to the back of the vehicle allowed entry and exit. At first we were on paved roads, happily enjoying the scenery.
Then the roads were unpaved and we talked of bumpiness. Kurt [Thurmaier] poo-pooed our assessment, telling us we didn’t know bumpy roads in Tanzania yet.
Another hour rolled by. We reached the Registration point around Noon, where each hiker, porter, and guide sign-in before the ascent. Boxed lunches were distributed and consumed.
After that point travel became rougher and slower. After another hour of rougher and slower driving, travel again became rougher and slower. Kurt conceded this was indeed the worst road he has been on in Tanzania! At one point our vehicle became stuck in the deep, muddy ruts.
After many futile, diesel burning attempts to move forward, the lead guide agreed with our suggestions that we get out.
The Zara guys in our vehicle and another 6-8 guys from the Zara support vehicle behind us laid pine boughs in the ruts for traction enough to allow the driver to plow through. Directions, instructions and advice filled the air