|Nora, Pierre, Lee, Nick and myself!|
|Kajeli and me|
|Morning yoga, anyone?|
We began day two with more rainforest and after hiking two hours entered the moorlands. This was the hardest day for me, at least physically. Thanks to some blisters (Yes, I know Mom - I should have broken in the boots better), a lot of dust and a 14 mile, 3,000ft elevation climb, I ended up lagging a bit behind the main group. Pierre and Kejeli kept me company and our discussions about American politics, being a mountain guide and racism in different countries more than made up for the 8+ hour day. By the end, the amount of dirt I collected between my sock line and knee braces was quite impressive; I have a new appreciation for wet wipes! Their use extends far beyond baby bottoms and I now consider them a necessity for adventure travel.
We got our first view of the peak as we entered the Shira Plateau and realized just how incredible a journey we were on. That night we camped at Shira 2, elevation 12,779 feet, and discovered just how possessive of toilets some groups can be! Over some of the best soup and (mountain) chicken I’ve had (I’m still not sure how Salem made such amazing soups even at 18,000+ feet) we formulated our plan for stealing the coveted private toilet. After dinner Paul and our head guides made the decision that our group was up to approaching the summit via the Western Breach. While this route has the benefit of shorter hikes each day, it also entails a more challenging climb the day before you summit as you increase in altitude, via large boulder scrambling, from 15,800ft to 18,200ft in about 5 hours with a mean gradient of 29 degrees!