Africa VII: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 2

I’m very excited to share with you all the details of my Africa (Kenya/Tanzania) trip, and hopefully it helps you plan your own trip, encourages you to visit these places, or at the very least teaches you about another culture in another part of the world. I loved my Africa experience. To catch you up on my trip, check out all my Africa posts:

Africa I: Planning Logistics + Budgets + Immunizations + Clothing/Gear + Getting There
Africa II: Kenya Stop1, Baby Elephants
Africa III: Kenya Giraffes, Karen Blixen and Artcaffe
Africa IV: Arriving in Moshi + The Good Hope School
Africa V: Kilimanjaro Details
Africa VI: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 1
Africa VII: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 2
Africa VIII: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 3
Africa IX: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 4
Africa X: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 5
Africa XI: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 6 and 7

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I left off in my last post at the end of day 1 of our Kilimanjaro climb, with Erica and I camping out with Zara Tours at the Machame Hut. Now it’s time to face day 2, and head to the Shira Camp. This stretch is about 3,000ft of gained elevation, and estimated to take 4-6 hours. This was one of my favorite and most memorable days on the trail.

Day2a

Above and below are images from the morning at the Machame Hut. The fog lifted, and we could actually finally see Kilimanjaro. Up until now we couldn’t even see the mountain. It was such a relief to wake up to clear skies and see the mountain.

Day2b

We still have a LOT to go! Eek.

Day2c1

The above photo is our tent at the Machame campsite in the morning. Notice it’s damp from the dew, and a bit muddy.

Day2c2

To the right of our sleeping tent is our food tent and then off in the distance is our toilet tent. Yup there’s a toilet in there just for me and Erica. Spring for the toilet tent- it’s worth every penny.

Day2d

Okay, enough of our morning at the Machame hut as it’s time for us to hike onward to the next campsite. I love that this chunk of trail is above the jungle layer, so it’s much drier and sunnier. Plus between 8a-12p it was relatively fog-free, so it was extra warm. This is why I suggest dressing layers. When if was foggy and over night it was very cold, so I assumed the day would be cold as well, and I was wrong. I immediately took off some layers when we started the day.

Day2f

Erica and I were hiking at different paces, so we decided to split up. Erica was taking lots of photos and thereby, pauses on the trail. I needed to keep on moving as I was anxious to reach the tougher portions of the trail while I still had energy. Plus, everytime I took a break it was tough to get moving again. At this point Erica hiked with our lead guide Bruce, and our assistant guide Thomas and I hiked together. Thomas is in the red above.

Day2g

With the fog out of the way, the views were incredible. This really was my favorite hiking day and I think it’s obvious from the photos.

Day2h

Above, Thomas took this photo of me mid-route. You can see Bruce and Erica in the background. This was a steep day, but equally rewarding.

Day2i

Up we go!!

Day2j

There’s a fun spot where you can hike off trail to the top of these rocks to snap some fun photos. You can see the jungle layer below and the fog. I could tell the fog was creeping up as the day went on, so I was doing my best to out-hike it.

Day2k

From this same spot above, you could see the prize: the top of Kilimanjaro. It’s crazy to think that in a few days I would be standing WAAAY up there. Every time I looked at the peak all I could think was, “how are we going to do this?!”.

Day2l

Up we go, and as I struggled with my light backpack, it’s all put into perspective when the porters carrying so much weight on their necks out hike you. The seem to hike at a jogging pace. It’s so impressive.

Day2m

Above is a cute photo of Thomas on the trail. I like to follow his steps, so I always have him lead. You’ll see his back in most of my photos for this reason.

Day2n

Up, up up! You can see above, the fog is catching up to us.When the fog hits, it get ssignificantly colder, and it also makes it so you can’t see more than 10 feet in front of you. Bye, bye good views.

Day2o

It officially sets in as we stop for a lunch break at the top of a big uphill portion of the climb. Thomas gave me a yummy boxed lunch and we ate and put on more layers. My guess is it was around 11:30/12pm?

Day2p

We continue onward toward the Shira campsite. Before the fog rolled in, I heard fellow hikers say they could see the campsite far in the distance. Now, I wasn’t able to see much in front of my feet. There was a bit of scrambling as the path went through a rocky area, but Thomas helped me through it all.

Day2r

My reward for being speedy through all the uphill today was arriving at camp around 1p (I think). That meant I had from 1pm until bedtime to relax and enjoy my time.

 

Day2qDay2s

Not long after I arrived the fog started to lift! That meant for the whole afternoon I could lay out in the sun enjoying it’s warmth while I listened to my ipod. It was such a meditative time, and I listened to the new Coldplay album which I’ll forever associate with this climb. Every time a song from that album comes on the radio, I’m taken back to feeling like I was in heaven on top of the world in the warmth of the sun.

Day2t

Above the fog slowly slips away.

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Above is our meal tent, sleeping tent (in yellow) and our toilet tent to the left.

Day2w

At sunset it started to get chilly, but it was so beautiful.

Day2x

Even the porters were taking pictures. You’d think they’d be used to the beautiful view, but  even they had to snap some photos.

Day2y

At sunset the clouds shifted away and illuminated Kilimanjaro. We are going waaaaay up there! Unfortunately, my night shots from this campsite didn’t come out well, but you’ll have to check out Erica’s night photography when she posts about it. We could see every star at night and her camera was able to capture it all beautifully.

Yes, this was definately my favorite day of hiking and relaxing on the mountain.

The Channel Islands: Ventura Harbor

— As you know, I’ve just had an amazing time exploring the Channel Islands (specifically Santa Cruz Island) and can’t wait to share my trip with you. It’s best if I break it down into the four parts that make up the trip: Getting There, Kayaking + Setting Up CampHiking the Island, and Ventura Harbor. —

Part IV: Ventura Harbor

If you’re looking for a fun day trip, but can’t commit or pay for the trip out to the Channel Islands, come spend the day walking around the Ventura Harbor. When we came back to the mainland, despite being crazy tired, we decided to walk around and explore before our trek home.

The boats, the blue sky + water created fun reflections.

We had to stop for a dinner at the popular Andria’s Seafood. It’s the type of seafood shack where you order at the counter and wait for your number to be called. I got the Mahi Mahi burger. They have all the fried classics too.

After such a big meal, we had to walk around to settle our stomachs before sitting in the car. Above is the Fishermen’s Memorial, which is dedicated to the residents who have passed at sea.

Color fun 🙂

Above is a boat B+B, which we nicknamed “murder boat” (in all fairness, I’m sure it’s a great place to stay).

The sun started to set sending warm colors throughout the sky. Such a beautiful dramatic sky.

It was time for our weekend trip to end. After the last photo was taken, we said fair-well and made our drive back into Los Angeles. We made great time (considering it was a Sunday night). If you’re planning this trip and have any questions, email me! I love mail.

The Channel Islands: Hiking the Island

— As you know, I’ve just had an amazing time exploring the Channel Islands (specifically Santa Cruz Island) and can’t wait to share my trip with you. It’s best if I break it down into the three parts that make up the trip: Getting There, Kayaking + Setting Up Camp and Hiking the Island. —

Part III: Hiking the Island

Our morning plans included mapping out our hike for the day. We had a 3pm ferry to be on, so we had to be mindful of time. We were crazy ambitious, as we planned not only the green marked hike out to Potato Harbor, but we had hoped to loop along Smugglers Road and then back to the campsite via Scorpion Canyon Loop Trail…. yeah that didn’t happen.

I must admit, that I didn’t have a good nights sleep. The wind was hallowing and I was worried my tent would blow apart or worse, a branch from the tree we were under would fall on us. Basically I was up all night worrying, so come sunrise I had pretty low energy. That and we didn’t bring any caffeine. I was in need of coffee… real bad.

We had our packed breakfast of champions (a peanut butter sandwich and some snacks) and then packed away all our gear into the food locker.

Then we began our trek along Potato Harbor Road. The dry rolling hills to our left were a sharp contrast to the blue skies and water on the ocean side.

Eventually this road (which is basically a fire road) levels out as you walk along the plain to the edge of the cliffs.

Finally our walk along the dry hills culminated at the edge of the world (or so it seems). While I took the above photo, we could hear the sea lions barking far below.

Almost at Potato Harbor. If you are making this trek, continue until you can’t go any further. I feel bad that a couple was walking along with us and they decided to try a new path while technically never reaching Potato Harbor. They were maybe 20 ft from it, and they missed it never getting to see the next several views.

Isn’t she beautiful? This bay/beach is only reachable by kayak which explains how pristine and untouched it is. More and more sea lions were barking away, probably swimming with delight. I hope in another life I get to be a sea lion on the Channel Islands.

Once you reach Potato Harbor, the entire loop back is along the cliffs. You’ll take 100’s of photos… as you can see I did. Narrowing which photos to share with you was VERY hard.

I could live right here.

The above photo is the view looking back toward Scorpion Rock (the left little island above).

 

I love the colors on the island. The browns and yellows of the rolling hills of dried grass with the bright blue sky and blue-green waters. These colors make for a great paint color scheme. Nature provides the best color schemes.

You can see from my photos, we only passed a few people the entire hike.

Once the hike loops back toward Scorpion Anchorage you get a great view of Scorpion Rock (on the left).

We headed back to the anchorage where you can see a wide view of the beach. Also note the red and yellow kayaks on the right of the photo. This is where the kayaking day trip launches from.

Once we reached the valley floor we investigated the historical information on the island.

In addition to a model of the grounds, there are many 3d representations of what life was like on the island long ago. They have a visitors center setup with many videos explaining the history of the island as well as their efforts to save the animal+plant life.

After learning about animals we walked back to our campsite and stumbled upon these fornicating butterflies. Oh how funny you are nature. (We hope it was consensual.)

With our last remaining hour we laid out by the water and awaited our ferry back to the mainland (see our ferry above). All trips must end with reality.

We waved goodbye to Ranger Tim and Cathy, as they watched our ferry depart from the dock. And off we went back to Ventura.

I’ve added an additional post next, exploring Venture Harbor!

The Channel Islands… Just A Taste

I survived! Can you guess where I went? The Channel Islands! Specifically, Santa Cruz Island (the largest one). I’ll have a full report for you soon, as it’ll take me a little while to sort through and edit all the photos from this kayaking/camping/hiking adventure. More to come soon 🙂

Tubing the Kern River

This past weekend I was invited to rapids/lazy river that is the Kern. My last experience with the Kern River was 2 years ago, when my boyfriend at the time and I joined a meetup group to experience a whitewater rafting adventure. Doing these type of meetups (through meetup.com) are awesome. You get to meet a group of cool people who also live in Southern California and want to experience adventure. It’s like a weekend at summer camp, and when you leave you’ve made life friends. This first trip is where I met Amber (who I’ve written about here before and who was also on this trip) and many others I still keep in touch with. If you want to explore the outdoors but don’t have anyone to do it with, join these trips. They are often lead by super experienced guides who want to teach you, so newbies are very welcomed.

This trip, almost exactly 2 years later, was less of a whitewater rafting trip and instead a tubing adventure. This past winter Southern California got very little rain/snow in the mountains and this river is powered by that melting snow. You can imagine, the water was very low.

We camped at the Frandy Campground, which is a great place to stay. It’s right along the river, so if you drive up the road and get into the water you can end at the campsite (where you have another car waiting to pick-up the other car). It’s a lot of coordinating to make sure the pick-up/drop-off works out.

Here you can see the challenge of getting the tubes to the launch site. The Frandy
Campground has a very powerful pump, which makes blowing up tubes fast and easy. But this also means you have to bring them to the river blown up. The photo below was taken by a member of our group. This was also a successful ride with the tubes. We had one drive where they all came undone in the street. Oh well, we did your best.

The next two photos were also taken by people in our group. I was too worried about my camera to bring it since it’s not waterproof. Their GoPro’s got some great shots! You can see the river is perfect for lounging…

…and then it gets rocky and wild! That’s me folks, and I LOVED taking on the rapids in the tube. So much fun. And yes, I did fall out once, but it was worth the bruises.

After a Saturday full of tubing (we did 2 long runs) we washed up and decided to take a tour around the cute little town of Kernville. It’s not very big so it didn’t take long at all, but there’s something really fun about a small town. And you know how I love to walk.

See, it’s like a ghost town! Doesn’t it look like a movie set? I should mention that my car registered it was 112 degrees at high noon on Saturday. It probably averaged around 100 for the weekend. This meant you needed to be in the water because the bathwater temperature of the river felt so refreshing. I mention this now, because the above photo of the “ICE” sign was taken when we would have loved to pour it over our heads.

A western easily could shoot here. Swap the cars for horses and maybe we’d catch a glimpse of John Wayne.

We stopped in what looked like a tiny gift shop, which ended up being quite large as it just kept going and going. “Howdy,” says the bear.

That night we had a celebratory dinner at the Kern River Brewing Company. If you like dark beer, try their Class V Stout. Quite tasty!

This was the place ot be on a Saturday Night and you could tell the locals love this bar/restaurant. They even had live music. You can see below, Jacqueline Taylor (a mother of two) was raising money to audition on American Idol in Oklahoma. She was a fine singer but I don’t get why she couldn’t audition in LA. It’s a three hour drive away, which is basically a half a tank of gas away. She was trying to raise $3000 (?) to get to Oklahoma. Why? Well, good luck to Jacqueline. Maybe you’ll be the next American Idol.

I had to add this photo, as all of the food we served in bowls, so we had a table full of bowls. I got the fish tacos with a side of the cheesy garlic fries. It was I’m sure high in calorie, and totally worth it. The fries were especially tasty. After getting such a workout on the river (hand-paddling takes a lot of arm work) this was a nice celebratory meal.

It’s campfire time!!

We played The Cards Against Humanity (like I played in Chicago) and I tied for first place. I must have a sick mind. We played while wearing headlamps. I’m sure we looked like geeks but we had a blast. And of course, no camping trip would be complete without s’mores!

I had such a great trip and I hope to do many more activities with this group of people. Maybe even some canyoneering! Getting out of LA was so easy and camping is so cheap once you own the gear (which I do). It’s shocking to me that this was my first camping trip of the year and I hope to go on more this summer. This was also on my list of goals for the year, so already I’m crossing things off. At the end of the month I’ll take another look at that list of goals, since 2012 is flying by!

2012 Resolutions

As you probably can tell, my 2011 was unbelievable. The key thing that helped push me to  do new things in 2011 was my GIANT resolutions list. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like a huge bucket list filled with unobtainable goals. Some goals were small like “buy hiking boots”, “cook more”, and “stay positive!”. Some goals were larger like “run a 5k” and “complete 38 LA walks”. And one was huge, “conquer fear of heights”. I think its important when making a list of goals to have some easy and some hard, because boy does it feel good to cross things off the list. I also like to pull out the list at the start of every month, to help me pace out what I’ve done and what still needs to happen. Don’t save it all until December! And the point of the list isn’t to have a painful year doing really hard things, it’s about trying new things and making 2012 memorable.

Life Absorbed’s 2012 Resolution List

– Complete all 42 walks in “Secret Stairs, A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of LA”

– Go rock climbing!

– Do at least one “monster” walk in 2012. Use my new “Car-Free LA” book to find a good really long walk and make a day of it.

– Resume hikes from my hiking book! Give those new hike boots a work out.

– Go camping!

– Hike (or ski) Mt. Baldy.

– Go back to Catalina!

– Keep filling my nights and weekends with fun activities, even if it means being tired the next day. It’s worth it!

– Visit Hearst Castle.

– Go cross-country skiing for the first time.

– Go white-water rafting.

– Go kayaking.

– Try yoga.

– Try spinning.

– Make new recipes to last during the week.

– Go to Chicago to visit my good friends and see a new city.

– Keep up my nightly walks. An hour a day does so much.

– Try new bars, restaurants and museums from my “L.A. Bizarro” book. (As Amber pointed out to me, we don’t have to see any of the porn-esque stuff and that is agreed).

– If someone says, “try this hike with me” or “lets do this sport” or any other physical activity, say yes!

– “Grow a Pair!” In 2012 I need to face the little fears. I successfully faced giant fears in 2011, so this should be easy right?

– As a part of “Growing A Pair”, I’m going to go on dates in 2011. It’s something Ive been putting off because I hate doing it, but why not? If it’s the worst, then oh well. If it’s great then maybe I get a new friend out of the deal. I’ve jumped out of a plane, I think I can handle a silly little date. So send your single, outdoorsy, male friends my way.

– And of course I will work hard to maintain you, Life Absorbed. I wish I had started you last Jan. 1st, so now I must make up for lost time.

Here is my new list! It’s a lot shorter than last years, but I think this list will prove to be more challenging (and more expensive). I need to take a moment to thank all of my friends for helping me complete last years resolution list. It really is a group effort. My friends were so great about joining me for activities that I was nervous about. They got me off my butt when I felt myself getting lazy. Their encouragement really pushed me to follow through with my goals. I hope you are all as lucky to have amazing supportive people in your lives. I dedicate my 2012 list of goals to them, and cheers to 2012! We are going to have a blast!

 

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas… or Happy Sunday, if you don’t celebrate.  I made it to CT in one piece and with enough time to celebrate.

This was taken fresh off of the red-eye. NYC in the morning.

After just missing the first bus, I waited for a second bus into Manhattan.

Then into Grand Central for the packed train ride to CT. I got home around 1:30p on Christmas Eve. After a lovely night of good food (crab cakes and baked stuffed clams, yum!) I wrapped gifts and caught some of The Sound Of Music with the family before I had to bid them ‘adieu. There will be a later post about Christmas when I upload my images, but lets just say that my family is so thoughtful and generous. Also, 2012 is going to kick-ass. I got new hiking boots, a sleeping pad, camping pillow, headlamp, a sleeping bag compression bag and seven free camping passes. I’m SO pumped for the new year.. so pumped. I also think Im ready to find a male camping companion… so if you know any single outdoorsy-men, send them my way 😉

Well, tomorrow I’m off to NYC for 2 days of fun. In the summer, when I went to NYC last, I came with a full list of activities and this time I’m going with nothing. But, I’m seeing good people and I’m confident enough that we will find fun things to do. I’ll of course recap it for you when I get back. After NYC I head right out to Cape Cod for a week of amazing New England adventures! I plan to break in my new hiking boots. Cape Cod may not have mountains but it’s awesome to hike in places so controlled by the tides. It really puts you in touch with nature. I’m signing off for the next 2 days!