I think that night I used the pee bottle I carried with me from Vietnam. God bless those wide-mouthed energy drink bottles because in the dead of night there was no way in hell I would have gone outside. I feel a bit bad for Joakim you had the misfortune of sleeping in the same tent as me when I used the pee bottle. I think that the pee bottle is one of the heroes of this story. It’s rare that advice from the internet, like bring a pee bottle, is ever so impactful. In the morning, we gathered around the pile of disassembled tents and bags and brushed our teeth. Jonas was frantically looking for his trekking shorts and I dug my hand into his sleeping bag’s bag to pull it out. Triumphantly, holding it in the air with the endless joy of an unspoken, “ I told ya so”. The sunny morning hike took us up and down wave-like ridges that ringed around the mountain.
We eventually came to a barren, cloudy, and dead feeling camp- Lava Tower. Lava Tower, named after a jagged rock formation at the camp, was cloudy and barren- sitting the +4,000 meters above sea level zone. Our guides used Lava Tower as a test of our altitude acclimatization. Seeing that we could have lunch on the high lands and sustain an appetite was a good sign that we were doing well. We always ate the same lunches because lunch was also eaten on the road.
After Lava Tower, we had a wet and dangerous descent down 1,000 meters through rocks, mud, and light rain. I eventually lost pace with the group and had the secondary guide, Samwele, slowly descend with me. I was descending very slowly to try and save my knees. Even an old man passed me and said, “You are walking the way that I am feeling”.
When I finally arrived at the beautiful cliffside camp it was six hours after we had set out. I was exhausted from the grueling descent and I lay in the tent to rest. I emerged from my hovel at 4 PM to walk around the campsite and take in a bit of the views. At this camp, we intersected with other trails and there were now hundreds of other hikers camping with us.
Each of the campsites as toilets in individual stalls. The toilet houses were sturdy cement and brick. I can’t imagine how they carried all the bags of cement to the top of the mountain. The toilets were understandably gross and I always wanted to vomit when I was using them, but you really can’t complain about these sort of things. Plus, I’m just plain ol’ full of shit anyway.