The bed coffee/tea!! was delivered at 06.30 as a cunning plan by Paul Silwamba head guide to kick us into life, it sort of worked and we peeled out of of mummy shaped sleeping bags to meet at the breakfast table to swap stories about how bad each of us slept!! the Germans (nothing against Germans by the way) just this particular group decided to move from the mess room to the wash basin located 10 feet from our cabin to continue to party and giggle like demented school children. Ingrid living up to her Dutch back ground piped out in between their laughter KEEP it DOWN!! to which they did surprisingly and the voices and laughter faded to leave the still of the night in place, well almost! Stuart was still going for it hammer and tong with his low reverberating snoring next door. The Brad had more words to say on this behavior over breakfast and it was from this point on Stuart was abandoned to reverberate on his own, with the luxury of a cabin to himself.
STEPS!! nobody mentioned steps and there were many of them, up and up, switch back after switch back but on the whole the mood was light and the weather perfect with a low cloud and a cool breezes buzzing through the trees from time to time. The scenery started to get more dramatic and wilder as we steadily gained altitude, the topic of the day over the high pitch shrill of the Red necked Francolin and distant black and white colobus monkeys was between Clare and ‘The Brad’ and yup you’ve guessed it ‘Football’ was on the menu !! it still surprises me that were ever you are or what ever you are doing somebody will always bring the subject up and be so passionate about it, i begin to wonder just what i am missing. The Brad certainly met his match though as Clare turned out to be as big of a fan as he and The Brad even commented that Clare was a wealth of information, Clare just brushed it off and said “it helps having a kid brother, he’s nuts on it”
I think for all the Day 2 was the best, the walk was a breeze and the scenery becoming more dramatic with each corner we turned, we waked steadily on with Ranger Dickson and Mr magnum, i had warned Brad earlier not to take the Micky to much out of Ranger Dickson due to him wearing a Liverpool scarf and having Mr magnum loosely slung around his shoulder with a bullet in the chamber, mainly against bad tempered buffalo, but the Tanzanians are also passionate about football and Ranger Dickson might not see the funny side to The Brad’s Northern humor. Brad swallowed hard to my lighthearted warning and dropped several places back putting Stuart and Clare in between him and Mr magnum – great ti have team members in situations like this.
We approached the hut and the smell or more so the thought of the chefs delicious home made soup moved us along the fairy tale walking trails at stealth speed, time enough to stop however for a few more snap happy moments as time was still on our side and the weather although had become somewhat grim it had not rained at this point.
Lunch was consumed in record time ‘The Brad’ once again outdoing Stuart who had already retired after his second helping on the main dish. We were shortly joined by Paul head guide to learn of the afternoon and evening plan of attack. It was all very regimental 15.00 we were to scale Little Meru as an altitude hike, return and pre-pack for the midnight wake up call with bed tea/coffee, in prep for the final quest.
The Little Meru walk as of 10 years ago had some satisfaction when arriving to the summit and I remember sitting for a good hour soaking in the vistas that fell before me whilst learning a few phrases in Swahili from a couple of porters i had met on the top. This time we arrived to a different view and for those who ski you are all aware of the term “White out”!!..we could see each other but further than 20feet away white clouds shrouded our very presence, so the happy snappies were pulled out and the group Twin Peaks Challenge pic were fired off to capture the moment for ever on digital image. I’m actually in this one to prove that Long haired Chris is also walking the walk and not just talking the talk.
So from the summit of little Meru we descended at lightening speed to the comfort of the cabins and finalized the clothing selection for the Midnight wake up call.
A short wait and it was soup time followed by a good solid meal of carbohydrates and off to bed by around 19.00 probably a record for all of us. Sleep did not come easy once again and the shuffles of sleeping bags and other trekkers passing and closing doors kept most of us with the exception of Stu and the Brad in a light suspended dozing state. When bed tea/coffee arrived it felt as if we had been robed of precious minutes and all sat up right, blinking away trying to adjust to the solar strip light that burned at 2000 candle power in the early hours of the morning, rapid blinking of the eyes seemed to be the only cure to soften the blow. The rain and wind ripped at the outside of the hut and we were wondering if this was such a good idea…the darkness waited.