September 23, 2012 Sunday
It is our first day on Kili and what a wonderful beginning to an expedition! We left the hotel this morning with great anticipation and a bunch of energy. When we arrived at the gate it was much more busy than I had imagined. Everyone needs to check into the park by signing the book. Of course Mike knew about all of this and took care of it all while the other groups were standing in line. We were in and out and on our way up the road to the starting point.
One of the ways you know you have a good outfit company for the expedition, is by seeing how far their vehicles will take you up the road. That determines when you begin walking. We passed several porters carrying gear as we drove another couple of miles up the road. That was great!
We all gathered at the starting point and our 120 porters began singing and chanting songs. It was so energizing to hear the music and join in with them. I couldn't sing with them because I don't know the words yet, but I will learn.
We started walking right into the rain forest and began gaining elevation rapidly. The pace was pole pole, which is Swahili for slow, and we talked and shared stories along the way. There are many interesting people in our group including scientists from the U.S., Russia, and Japan. I also met a teacher and one of his students who live here in Tanzania. Everyone is friendly with many experiences to share.
After walking for about three hours, we reached our first camp, which is the Forest camp(9200 ft/2804m). BOY WAS IT CROWED!!! I could not believe all of the tents and people in the camp. It was like walking through a maze of tents, stakes, and lines! It will be much harder walking around after dark. We had a very nice dinner in our large blue tent and then talked about the science and scenes we had experienced that day.