St Thomas' Lupus Trust
Daily Diary

This is an up to date text message board of the trek as it happens. Once I return I will write a more detailed account of the whole experience

Sunday 22 September 2002
Great bunch of people, we should have a lot of fun, all ages and abilities, 9hr flight and 8hr bus ride tomorrow.

Monday 23 September 2002
09:00 arrived 20C. Overcast just like home!

Little sleep last night and a delay because BA had wrong plane. All day on small cramped bus on some poor roads with even worse standards of driving.

Starts tomorrow. 2hr drive to the mountain and 6hr trek through rainforest. We seem to be building a good team spirit with smaller friendships within.

Tuesday 24 September 2002
Delayed start and 2hr bus ride to Marangu Gate, beautiful scenery and the start of the trek.

4hrs to Mahandra Hut through tropical rain forest, first site of a Blue Monkey and a minor volcanic crater.

Food good and spirits high. 9pm all going to bed. Start for summit Friday evening.

Wednesday 25 September 2002
Struggling to write updates, Wednesday very long but good.
Thursday 26 September 2002
Thursday very hard, felt very ill.
Friday 27 September 2002
Today we climb 1000m, walk 11k, 7 hrs. Midnight go for summit - 10 hrs.
No more messages for time being as battery is very low!
Saturday 28 September 2002
Following on from our arrival at Kibo Hut at 16.00 hrs some soup and fruit and a maximum 3 hours of sleep ( in my case a fitful one hour) the ''slow'' party set off at 23.30 with the ''fast'' party starting at midnight. The climb of 1000m is over a distance of 6k and is twice as steep as any other section ( it is after all the section leading to the volcano rim). Oxygen is at a premium and every step and breath is an effort. The guides start singing to keep spirits up, ''Jambo, Jambo sana'' - we try and join in. Further back someone is singing ''Crowded House'' songs - must be hallucinating. After approx 3 hours we are caught by the ''fast'' team and a deal of reshuffling occurs.

Quite bizarrely we arrive at a cave approx half way up and a guide gives us hot sweet tea - . must be hallucinating. Gary and I have become a mini team as the faster people move away and don't wait and the slower ones drop back, its too cold to wait and we stop every 100m anyway.

I hit a patch of loose shale, having lost the path, and the plot. I am running on the spot and breath and strength are fading fast, Gary gives me a helping shove and I fall onto the adjacent ledge. I am struggling but Gary seems fine. ''Pole pole'' (slowly slowly) I continue in the lead. I think back to a conversation with Andy a couple of days ago - we chose to do this and it will be all over in a couple of days. Guys at war never know when it will end. I think of Lea and Oginia both with Lupus and think they had no choice and they have Lupus for life - this ordeal will be over for me in a few hours and I have the choice of stopping at any time.

We see the 06.10am sun rise whilst some 100m below Gillman's Point. 6.30am we arrive at Gillman's Point, its small and dirty with about 12 people in various states of fatigue and distress. Sarah is laid on the floor her head propped on a rock trying to photograph the sign, people step over her, everything is an effort, she tells me she is cold and is not going to the summit and nor is Oginia. I know they have made the right and very brave decision. My daypack is off I take a couple of photos and walk over to Gary, he looks awful, ''I'm not going on'', he says. My disbelief shows, I turn and walk away, he is the stronger of us two or so I thought. Head spinning I don't know what to do. Switch off; take slow deep breaths; what does my soul say. My head says no, my heart says yes. My soul gives me an instinctive feeling, my logical brain agrees . I must attempt the summit, to not attempt is to fail before I have started. I turn round grim faced and catch Gary's eye ''I'm going on'' ,he shouts, ''wait for me I reply.'' - What the hell is going on!

We set off, I am very slow, but can keep going at this pace. A guide takes my daypack and Gary goes on ahead. Washington instructs the guide to help Julie. I am back on my own but everybody is giving me a hug and telling me its 10 minutes ( Tanzanian 10 minutes usually mean half an hour , but I don't care.) Washington takes my daypack and I arrive at the summit at 8.20am. Pleased, but too tired to take photos. Gary takes a picture of me and another of me and BB Bear, Stella's child hood teddy bear who wanted to see Kenya again. The weather is cold -10 with a force 10 giving a wind chill off -30. Only my fingers are showing signs of cold. Washington wants us all to start back and I walk away first but am slowly passed by everybody. The return to Gillman's is slow and the decent is not with out its problems and I am last back with Greg, some 50 minutes after Gary and the main group.

We all made it to Gillman's Point, a fantastic achievement which must be credited to the individuals , the team spirit, our doctor, our tour rep. and especially to Elias and his team of guides porters and cooks.

Sunday 29 September 2002
Following a short rest at Kibo Hut and a little lunch we set off for the return trek to Horombo Hut at 15.00 hrs. and arrived back some three hours later to be greated by John and Nigel with beers and cokes, nice touch boys. In the mean time I have again been relieved of my daypack this time by Gazza and Rozza. Stezza says ''Many thanks guys!''

We set off at 8.00hrs and trek back to the gate for a celebratory glass of champagne at 16.00 hrs.Followed by two hour bus ride to hotel at Arushia and a presentation meal.

Monday 30 September 2002
Bus journey from Arushia back to Nairobe, takes all day, with no contact from Radio Cambridgeshire.
Tuesday 01 October 2002
Freetime ends with a sponsered head-shave and yours trully becoming ''baldyhead'' with much assistance from Amanda and John. Still to check the conversion rates buts lookes like my ''cool'' inpersonation of Marco Pantani has squeezed a further £120 from our intrepid trekers.
Wednesday 02 October 2002
Arrive Heathrow shortly before 05.00 hrs and all say our farewells and promise to be at the reunion on Friday 25th October at 17.30. Unpacking in the afternoon reveals that not only have I ben relieved of ALL head-hair, but also of my safari picture containing 35mm camera and my binoculers, some where between baggage-in at Nairobi and collection at Heathrow. Roy also says his pack had been opened on arrivel at Heathrow.

Cie la vie

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