Strangely I woke up with one of the worst headaches of the week – a piercing pain at the front of my head. Two paracetamols and some breakfast cleared it. I rarely get headaches and have taken more paracetamol this week than 2015 combined!
The porters and guides held a special ceremony this morning to thank us for our tips. We’ve had team of 84 support staff with a single primary aim – getting us to the summit yesterday. The ceremony was 30 minutes of singing, dancing and smiling. It was lovely.
Then it was back to reality. A six hour walk to the Mweka Gate. We had to descend from 3,700m to 1,500 – that’s twice the height of Ben Nevis. Guys in the group with dodgy knees had been dreading today.
The start of the walk was a stone path which was slippery from the mud and dirt. We then entered the rain forest – humid, hot and sticky. Here the path was even more slippery and one of the people I was walking with slipped over a couple of times. We all were slipping a little every few steps – it was quite difficult walking.
I was the only trekker without walking poles. I don’t use them because my knees and legs are strong on descents and I feel it’s one more thing to lose, break or worry about.
Fifteen minutes from the gate it started raining. By now we were all pretty hot and sweaty so I decided not to wear any waterproofs as they would merely make me hotter.
It was only a shower and once we arrived at the gate we were led to our lunch area which was under a canvas cover. It then bucketed down. Our luck with the weather has been remarkable all week.
Lunch was fantastic. We had been talking about chips over the last couple of days and today we had them.
At the gate there was a toilet block. For the first time in 8 days we were using porcelain urinals and there was a mirror!
We had successfully climbed and descended the tallest mountain in Africa. Although we celebrated with a beer, it still took most of us another day or two for it to sink in.
We now had 36 hours more in Tanzania, although most of us simply wanted to return to our families.