Day 7 - Fischer Camp

Saturday, August 25, 2001
Fischer Camp, Tanzania
Elevation: 12,300 feet
How many times we heard "Please pass the hot water to this end of the table:" 26

Helene and I woke up with dry mouths and stuffed noses, looked at our black fingernails, each other's filthy faces and matted hair and said, "What were we thinking?" Then we erupted into laughter.

As we were getting ready, a piece of dirt flew into my eye. It was a big piece of dirt and it hurt a lot. I tried flushing out the dirt with my eye drops, but it was stuck there. Helene washed her hands and then started flipping my eyelids to look for the culprit. She finally saw it and said, "Yep, you have a big piece of dirt in your eye." I said, "What should I do?" She said, "Irrigate it." So I kept irrigating it and eventually it came out. Even though that was annoying and ate up a lot of time, I was making jokes about still having one good eye left to make it to the summit. Helene looked at me and called me "Joo-lee" because one of our best friends' name is Julie and she is always making her cheerful best out of an impossibly difficult and stressful situation.

We ate all the eggs so breakfasts were becoming a bit monotonous. Most of us ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and passed on the brown slop, I mean, millet porridge. Whoever sat in the middle of the table had to continuously pass the "P.B." and the "J." Nobody wanted to be the bearer of the news when we finally used up the mixed fruit jelly.

We had an ongoing wager to see if Frank would accidentally eat the spicy chili sauce. He never did.

Kapanya, Helene, Peter and Andy next to a lava rock with Kili in the background - I thought it was me, but it's Helene. She and I looked the same in our goofy gear (photo courtesy of Andy Katz)

Today we walked across the Shira Plateau. Deirdre and I darted ahead of the pack and as we power-walked, she told me about her celebrity in the upcoming television special "Boston 24/7." It was a beautiful walk with a very small uphill grade and then a steep pitch at the end. We stopped for photos when we came upon some multi-limbed cactus. Larry, who was wearing his satellite phone solar battery charger on his back, was pacing the rest of the group and making sure they traveled between 1.25 and 1.75 miles per hour.

Teresa, Marcee and Deirdre on the Shira Plateau

When I arrived in camp, Fred greeted me and I called out, "A hoo-yah too-yah!" Godfrey, the porter who brought us clean drinking water every day, heard me say that and he repeated it to me the rest of the trip.

Helene and I finally worked out a system for arriving in camp. First thing we would do is unpack our ridge rests and place them directly next to each other in the center of the tent. While our porters were inflating our Thermarests, we'd remove our gaiters and boots, and put on our camp shoes. Then we'd lay the Thermarests down and un-stuff our sleeping bags and lay them out. We'd place our other gear on the tent edge of our "beds" and start filling the pockets inside the tent with our trekking gear such as sun hat and sunglasses, and then unpack our evening gear such as toiletries, warm hats and mittens, "puffies" (our down jackets), flashlights and pajamas and load them up in the pockets at the back end of the tent. We kept our food/pharmacy bag in the vestibule for easy access because as soon as we arrived in camp, we would have to start dispensing meds. We hung a flashlight on a hook in the middle of the tent for ambient light even though at night we always wore our headlamps for task lighting.

In Larry and Fred's tent, part of their settling-in routine included Fred putting a sleeping pill on Larry's pillow.

We had hoped to get a hot shower in camp today. We must have been hallucinating or hypoxic. All we got were warm tubs of water, as usual. Teresa fell ill with stomach pains and diarrhea. She came to the dispensary (our tent, tent #7) for Cipro. Deirdre was bold and washed her hair even though the air was chilly. The views were so spectacular from this camp. Kili was above us, the Shira Plateau was below and Mt. Meru was across the plateau. Fred called this the "Four Seasons of campsites."

At lunch Larry asked Kapanya what the nicknames were for those who had not yet been given one. Kapanya said that Andy's nickname was "The Prince." Before we got a chance to ask why, Kapanya stepped out of the tent. Frank guessed that the reason Andy got that name is because he spent so much time sitting on "the throne." Later we learned that the real reason was because Andy reminded Kapanya of Prince Andrew of England.

Those of us who were still feeling well took a short hike after we got settled in and rested a little bit. We visited two plaques commemorating Scott Fischer, the founder of Mountain Madness who lost his life on Everest a few years ago. A quote on one of the plaques said, "If you're not cruisin", you're bummin"." We passed by some huge patties of Eland poop. At the top of our hike we saw a dehydrated Lobelia tree. Our guide put his sunglasses and hat on the Lobelia tree and we took portraits with it as if it were a member of the family.

Fischer Camp plaque

Lobelia tree just above Fischer Camp

I learned that "ka-ka" means brother, "da-da" means sister, "ma-ma" means mother, "ba-ba" means father and "ba-bu" means grand-father.

Andy and Marcee watching the sunset (photo courtesy of Peter Rosendorff)

Sunset was spectacular. The fog rolled in over the Shira Plateau and a bunch of clouds rested on the south side of the ridge. Mt. Meru peaked through the clouds. We had a great view of Lava Tower, Arrow Glacier and Kili.

Helene and I loved our sizzling hot water bottles that we kept in our sleeping bags at night. All I had to do was get in that sleeping bag, take a few deep breaths, and I was off to dreamland. I slept like a baby every night. Helene listened to a lecture on Shakespeare on her CD player to help her fall asleep.