I was awoken to coffee at my tent, a luxury I never have at home so a good way to start my morning. Then a bowl of warm water to wash the bits that mattered followed by an amazing breakfast of porridge, pancakes, bacon! Too much to eat but no food was ever wasted!
It was a long, hard uphill slog; we kept to a pace, quite brisk even with the constant “pole,pole” (slowly, slowly) from the guide: and walked for an hour under the clear skies. The sun only felt intermittently hot and a breeze blew gently across us but you couldn’t help feeling that the sun was evil! By the second stop, I could already feel my energy sapping and my legs were wobbly, despite the four tiny bananas I had consumed. We stopped at First Cave and I was starting to wonder whether I would ever make it to the summit at this pace, or indeed would I finish the day?
At lunch, I couldn’t eat. I had drunk as much water as I could manage but even that was diminishing in the size of swigs from the bottle. By early afternoon, I was uncomfortable and nauseated. And soon, I was leaving myself all over the trail, vomiting and feeling faint.
Worse, I vomited and my burning throat seemed to constrict as I tried to sip water. Panic rose like bile and I was breathing erratically, breathing fast. My partner held my hand and I could hear him soothe me with his words, though I didn’t know what he was saying. But it was enough to calm me and I recovered, walking another hour or so to the camp with unsteady legs.
“You were so sure footed over the rocks!” he told me, encouragingly and yes, surprisingly I did manage to negotiate the ups and downs of the trail, into rivers and out again without stumbling.
At camp, 3600m up, I curled miserably into my sleeping bag and tried to sleep. But I wasn’t allowed; the guide insisted that I ate something even if I was sick again.
“It is very normal,” he told me. “A long day, too much sun, 1000m climb. All quite normal.”
It didn’t feel normal as I sipped lemon and hot water and threw up my soup from the evening’s dinner, the only thing that I could get down at all.