And off we went, a few custard creams floating on a bed of coffee was the meal ticket we set off with, thankfully the wake up rains and buffeting winds sounded a lot worse than they actually were and by the time we formed a single file with head torches blazing the morning stillness had returned with the only sound present was the crunching of scree under foot.
The pace was good and the 01.30 morning coolness was making trekking enjoyable in a strange sort of way, although i quickly realized that i had thrown on one too many layers expecting blizzard condition’s in preparation as to what we woke to. For those who have not trekked at night its a strange but peaceful experience, one tends to go within and all manner of thoughts pass you by as your gaze is fixed 3 feet in front of you on an unchanging section of scree or to the persons boots who happens to be in front of you. LED head lamps are great for long battery hours and not burning out the back of follow campers eye balls when you address them in conversation, but unless you have a super funky one with spotlight feature your world becomes a 15 foot existence of white blue light with every which way you turn. For Meru and Oldoinyo Lengai ( mountain of the Gods ) Tanzania’s only active volcano this is somewhat of a blessing, reason behind this you may be wandering? is if half the people could actually see what they were climbing they would be making a B – line for the mummy shaped sleeping bag that is still holding some of their body heat back at the hut or camp.
Now being as it was dark and terrain not very forgiving the happy snappies did not come out till the the first rays of sunlight painted a watercolor smudge across to a silhouetted Kilimanjaro. I will not go into details of the events that happened during those darkened hours that the The Twin Peaks Challenge Team struggled with their own inner battles, fatigue and shear will to go. These experiences are personal to each individual and for my 20 odd years of putting myself out there testing ones boundaries and comfort zones the ultimate goal i strongly believe is not about reaching the summit but the internal journey that you take yourself through to get there.
The Brad, Stuart and Clare not forgetting my partner Ingrid all hit the summit of Mt Meru at approximately 07.20 but nobody really cared about the time, 4566metres had been reached after a long hard slog, a new day begun as kamikaze swifts performed their aerial display at summit heights. I was really wandering what fly’s and bugs live at that altitude for them to feed on, but they were going for it and you could hear the wind being cut like a stealth fighter as they flew in formation taking what ever they could on the wing.
We descended after several hours and continued back through to Arusha after all getting caught in a torrential down pour about 1hr from Mariakamba Hut. The Twin Peaks Team were happy to get back to hot showers and a cold bottle of Champagne that awaited them in Arusha. The following day it was back off to Maji Moto again to swim, relax and reflect on the next challenge that stood a little too much larger than life before them.