Waking early, always early on the trail, it’s a bird bath with the ubiquitous bowl of water, breakfast in our Buckminster dome mess tent and a short wait while we (the porters) strike camp, then we’re off on to Shira 1 camp. Climbing up out of the climax rainforest and heading east the air is cooling but still humid and it’s raining intermittently as we move above the forest line and we’re walking amongst heather and stoebe under a lowering sky. Yes it’s east, east and to the east again young man as we climb up the ridge line until we hit our lunch stop.
We’re up above 3000m now so not hard to remember it’s pole pole (slowly, slowly) all the way, this is where altitude sickness starts to kick in. Those walking poles are getting a work out as we climb up asking the spine of the ridge, with the trekking parties strung out like ants along the skyline then disappearing over the edge into the mist. We follow over the top and passing through 3500m there it is the Shiva plateau.
A walk down the hill then an hour or so ramble across the plain under a wild cloudscape until we get to the rustic charm of Shira 1. We’re high now, but not quite as high as the Shira ridge, the climate cool and Hebridean. The clouds close in and it’s a rainy afternoon on the plateau, but that’s OK because we’ve made camp. Bit of a headache from altitude, but it clears after a rest. Dinner in the Bucky-dome, with the all the other members of our part we’re starting to get a feel for each other, all the usual small group dynamics at play. The guides bring out the blood O2 machine and take everyone’s readings then talk through what’s in store for tomorrow. Walking back to the tent the clouds have cleared and there’s a cold blue moon shining down on the plateau nightscape and the bulk of Kibu looming in the december dark.
Distance: 8 km, Altitude gained: 718 m