Mount Kilimanjaro

We finally caught up with Nicholas and Arthur at Millennium Camp (12,500'). Arthur was still feeling out of sorts and needed to go lower, so we continued down to the site being prepared at Mweka Camp. Nicholas continued to carry Arthur's pack and support him much of the way down. I was keeping up, but Kendal lagged behind and Renatus stayed with her. Finally, two of the porters came back up the trail to take our packs and accompany us down. In camp porters helped us remove our boots and handed us hot drinks. The toilet tent had been found and was damaged but serviceable. The dinner tent was also damaged but serviceable. Both were definitely seeing their last day of service.

It was getting close to sundown. We were all beat and very hungry. Kendal and I ate dinner while Arthur rested. My appetite was restored and I had extra helpings, making up for the lunch we missed as well as the small portions I had consumed over the past few days. We headed to bed around 7pm.

Given we were well acclimatized, being at the 10,000' elevation of the Mweka Camp should be enough to resolve pulmonary edema, but it was not a guarantee. Going to 7,000' would be a virtual guarantee, as I know from experience and from experts (there is a reason airliners are pressurized to 8,000' or lower). As we lay in the tent preparing to sleep, Arthur said he was feeling neither better nor worse. I told him if he started feeling worse to let me know and we would continue down. I don't think I mentioned what a hassle it would be in the dark, given we were tired and the trail is still rough going for a couple of miles. In addition, there are no places to stop until the Mweka Gate, over 4,000' below. Fortunately, his condition improved through the night. Had it been necessary to take him down we might have used one of the “stretchers” pictured here.

In retrospect: Renatus had pressed us hard getting to the summit, limited our time at the summit and rushed getting back to high camp. The rationale is the more time spent at altitude, the higher the chances of developing one of the various forms of altitude sickness. I was not happy with the rush, but had we not pressed so hard or had taken more or longer breaks, it is possible the onset of Arthur's symptoms would have come at a less opportune point in the ascent or descent.