Day 8 - Lava Tower

Sunday, August 26, 2001
Lava Tower, Tanzania
Elevation: 14,300 feet
Number of zits that Helene had on her forehead: 2
Number of times people asked, "Where is the point of no return?:" 5,762
My resting heart rate / blood oxidation level: 97 / 66

The first thing in the morning that Helene said to me was that she wanted to remember to have some peanut butter for breakfast because it makes you constipated. I said, "You WANT to be constipated?" She said, "It's better than having diarrhea." We started laughing. Everyone heard us and said, "The twins are up."

Andy and Peter were enjoying the view so I took my hot chocolate and joined them outside. We were so inspired by the beautiful sunrise that we burst out into song. First we sang The Beatles" "Here comes the sun." Then we sang Cat Stevens" "Morning has broken." Then The Beatles" "Good day sunshine."

Peter and Marcee celebrating another glorious day (photo courtesy of Andy Katz)

At breakfast, I brought some candles to the mess tent and lit them and we sang Happy Birthday to the people celebrating milestone birthdays: Morgan's 30th, Larry's 40th, Polly's 50th and Bob's 70th.

Birthday party in the mess tent

I traded MP3 players with Andy so we could hear a different selection of music as we walked, but he couldn't stand hearing my Bee Gees and ABBA choices, so he politely let Helene listen to it. I enjoyed listening to his music selection, especially the Rolling Stones" "Beast of Burden:"

I'll never be your beast of burden / I've walked for miles, my feet are hurtin' / All I want is for you to make love to me / Am I hard enough / Am I rough enough / Am I rich enough / I'm not too blind to see / You're a pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty girl / Pretty, pretty such a pretty, pretty, pretty girl / Come on baby please, please, please.

Trail to Lava Tower (photo courtesy of Fred Yorra)

As we were walking through the black lava fields, Andy pointed out a beautiful bouquet of vibrant yellow flowers (see them in photo of Fred just below).

Larry standing in front of Lava Tower

Fred in front of Lava Tower

When we arrived in camp, our porters greeted us with high-fives and "um-souri sana" and "mambo" and "a-hoo-ya too-ya." They took our trekking poles and water packs and showed us to our tents.
Helene and I got sun and wind-burned today and we were both wearing three layers of sunscreen PLUS our silly sunhats/masks. We decided to pass on the optional afternoon hike to Lava Tower so we could repair our damaged skin. Morgan and Deirdre got a little too much sun exposure as well.
I started wearing glove liners at all times because I couldn't stand how dirty and chapped my hands and fingers were becoming. Then my glove liners became black and I couldn't stand looking at those. Luckily I had two pair. So I wore the disgustingly dirty ones during the day, and I cleaned my hands the best that I could and covered them with Vaseline and wore the slightly less dirty ones at night in the tent.

Peter started suffering from gastrointestinal problems today. Fred and Larry started taking 4 mg. of dexamethasone (Decadron) to build up some strength for our big day. Helene, Deirdre and I planned to start taking "dex" on Monday night.

At some point during the night, Andy stepped out of the tent and said to our resident constellation expert Peter, "Peter, is it possible that I see Orion?" Peter replied, "I don't think so." Andy asked, "Why not?" Peter said, "Well, first of all, rhinos are practically extinct, and second of all, it would be very unlikely to find one at this altitude." Andy said, "Huh? Rhinos? I said "Orion," not "Rhino!""