This day was a day of personal hell for all the hikers on the trail. We started out at 5am and literally walked straight up flights of uneven stairs for 5 hours for an elevation gain of 4500 feet.
As I passed each climber you would make small talk… if you had enough breath. About two hours in you just looked at each other and tried to smile as we all leap frogged up the mountain. After 3 hours you reached a false high as you reached the half way point to cheers from your group who were all waiting for the final push, like runners at the starting line. You could see the end point far in the distance and a few climbers ahead. The trail looked like a line of ants as they would move and stop, move a bit more and stop.
P.S. As much as I resented the idea of using my iPhone and earphones on the trail they were my saving grace. When I finally was ready to succumb to the pain and nausea of altitude sickness I pulled out my music and it took my mind away from the mental cues from my brain saying ‘are you f#%+ing insane?’ It put me into a type of trance that allowed me to control my anxiety, breathing and pace. God bless technology!
By 4 hours in you were swearing and cursing the trail and each step. You would turn around and look at the absolutely stunning views, convince yourself this is why you are doing this, turn and push on. Step by step. At one point a rain shower rolled in and the path of ants both in front and behind me all at once turned from yellow, white blacks and blues, to brightly colored plastic coated ants in a row. And I push on.
As I got closer to the top I had made friends with other hikers from around the world. I was wearing my Ravens jersey and I became “Hey Baltimore” as I was passed up and passed. Five hours later the the top was in close proximity and I could see Alejandro waving me on. The last 15 minutes seemed like hours, three steps, breathe, three more, breathe. Five steps to go, I wanted to run up and be done but my legs felt like cement. Five hours and 20 minutes summit.
The view was spectacular but we couldn’t stay long due to the altitude. I thought that Fayzee would’ve liked the view so I left a bit of her there with a view that can only be achieved by plenty of sweat, pain and tears. Unfortunately, what goes up must come down.
The path down was almost as fun as the ascent. The difference being you were trying not to break an ankle or fall on the slippery rocks, oh yes I forgot to mention it began to rain. It was a 3500 feet descent, most of which was the same incredulous stairs as going up this insane mountain.
At the bottom of the first set of stairs a porter appeared and gave us a note from Alejandro. The note said “Hello Girls. I have sent this porter to help you any way he can. Let him carry your backpack so you arrive safely.” At first Chris was hesitant. Normally these guys are running up and down. Michaelandro stayed with us for the whole time until Chris saw the next set of stairs and surrendered her backpack. He stayed with us for the next hour as we hiked into camp. We arrived to the same lineup of porters and Alejandro cheering as we entered camp.