SECOND CAVE TO KIKELEWA CAMP (Third cave): 11,440 ft. - 12,057 ft.
Hike duration: 4 hours
Temperature: 8 degrees Celsius
Word that captures the day:
My word of the day - friendship - cannot be understated.
I've gotta be honest: Day Two was a real struggle. I felt better once we were all reunited at the camp by day's end. But the fact that we had to break into two groups (in order to proceed more efficiently) was actually more discouraging than I cared to share yesterday. It was slow going, a frustrating climb and being apart, well, sucked.
Today was a different story, thankfully.
After a relatively short yet steep climb up grassy slopes we were rewarded with more stunning views and a real sense that we were becoming more and more remote - we had hiked beyond the limits of vegetation, basically surrounded by short shrubs and sagebrush. (Think Coyote vs Roadrunner
.) We had a really good conversation about pacing at the outset, and I believe it made a huge difference.
For the first time, it felt like we got into a groove. Even though the trekking was as tough as anything we encountered yesterday, today it felt tough but doable. I feel like I'm adapting, that we're all moving more intuitively.
But most importantly, we are working as a team!
At one point today there was, like yesterday, no alternative but to carry me atop the chair-lifter for a
little while. But this time it was David and Alex who (literally) shouldered me. If you can say, at any time in your life, that you have a friend who will carry you up a mountain, you're among the most fortunate anywhere. I can say I have two.
Day Three had its own soundtrack, too. We all had the lyrics of Awake My Soul
, by Mumford and Sons, rattling around in our heads.
"Lend me your hand and we'll conquer them all
But lend me your heart and I'll just let you fall
Lend me your eyes I can change what you see
But your soul you must keep, totally free.
And now my heart stumbles on things I don't know
My weakness I feel I must finally show."
Tomorrow is the half-way point of the climb. I know it gets even more challenging from here, in terms of ascent, altitude and accumulative fatigue. The importance of teamwork is coming into even sharper focus for all three of us. Thankfully, the porters are fearless and amazing, and our head guide, Paul, is probably the most capable human being on the planet to lead this expedition.
But above all, for me, David Johnson and Alex Meers are irreplaceable. The great Rick Hansen couldn't have been more perceptive: he recently recognized the indelible bond between me and David from a single, wordless glance. The very same could have been noted between any combination of all three of us. Rick said the strength of that bond is what will get us to the top. I had thought he was talking about conquering this mountain.
I now know he was talking about so much more.
"In these bodies we will live,
in these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love,
you invest your life."