Friday, January 13, 2012

Toting 11 Women Up a Mountain...


Logistics of getting 11 of us up the mountain (at least, the way we did it) are amazing – and embarrassing.

It took 40 – yes, FORTY – men carrying everything from tents to sleeping bags to mattresses, to food, to toilets, to chairs, to tables our own personal gear (not in our day packs) and anything else you could possibly think of needing – or wanting on the mountain to get us to the summit. I’d heard rumors that this wasn’t actually going to be “roughing it” – but I had no clue how ridiculously cushy this would be.
The crew - readying for Mt Kenya (in the distance...)

Here’s the breakdown:
Guides: 4 - Ema (Emmanuel) – Lead Guide, Simon, Peter, and Elijah
Camp Manager: 1 - Simba
Camp Assistants: 3
Cooks: 2
Porters: 30

Here is my perception of how the whole thing worked (I could be totally wrong about this)…

The guides are responsible for the hiking part only – making sure are were healthy and safe. The Camp Manager, Simba, is responsible for camp setup and breakdown, for feeding us, and for snacks along the way (yes, we had picnics mid-hike… CRAZY!) The Camp Assistants help Simba with serving meals and directing porters in camp setup and breakdown. The porters are the meat and potatoes of the operation. They carry a LOT of gear on their backs up the mountain and do most of the heavy lifting, setup etc.

Me & the guides - Mt Kenya - Last Day!

We got to know and love our guides and Simba very quickly. We eventually began to talk and get to know the assistants, but the porters and cooks stayed away from the camp and were rarely seen outside of camp setup or breakdown. Yes, this is weird, and sad, and bothersome and suddenly the “required” tip didn’t seem so obnoxious. I did meet the porter who carried my bags – Dennis. He was a sweet young guy.

Each morning (except summit day) began with a rustling outside the tent, followed by Simba’s growl (literally, he would growl outside our tent to wake us up – effective!). The charming wake-up call would then be followed by tea service – or, in my case – coffee service. In the tent, in the sleeping bag, We were served breakfast, lunch and dinner in the giant “mess tent” by Simba and his helpers. The food is ridiculous-yummy - potato leak soups, omelets, crepes, stew, and on and on…
Simba - the growler

There were two special blue tents set up away from the sleeping tents - these were the toilets. I affectionately dubbed them “potty trainers” – which is exactly what they looked like. I didn’t use them often, but they were nice to have.
Toilet tent... 

So you’re starting to understand… I lived better on the mountain than I did in Southern California. (I definitely ATE better than I did in SoCal… so much for weight loss…) Crazy.  
Camp - 13,000 ft


Post a Comment