I do believe I have been blessed with a healthy and functioning body, so thanks, God. But. Why couldn’t you have made my bladder just a teeny tiny bit bigger?
It’s really not a problem in my normal life. During the day it’s not an issue, and at night I just sleepwalk to the bathroom and back (or down to the kitchen for a midnight meal, since I certainly was blessed with a big enough appetite). But when I want to climb Kilimanjaro, having a small bladder is a very big deal.
Day 1: To Forest Camp
The Lemosho route starts from the Western side of the mountain. We spent the first day walking through dense vegetation in a green rainforest. As I walked through the thick plants for my very first pee on Kili, I got bitten – through my pants – by a tiny flying insect. Within seconds, my skin was stinging and a patch that looked like seven mosquito bites together apperead on my leg. Seems like the animals of Africa have a thing for my leg.
Night 2: Shira 1 Camp 2900 m/3200 m (depending on whom you ask)
Could I be any more of an old lady? I got up in the middle of the night to pee. I came back from the journey ready to eat. In order to do that, I had to pull out my false theeth (retainer). Well, I consoled myself – at least I don’t have afternoon tea (hmm. the porters serve it every evening) or walk with a stick (I walk with two.)
Night 3: Shira 2 Camp 3500 m
Denial. I stayed in my sleeping until four in the morning, convincing myself I didn’t really have to go. I nearly exploded.
Night 4: Barranco Camp 3976 m
The denial continues. Using logic doesn’t seem to get me out of the cozy sleeping bag and warmish tent into the freezing air, just to pull down my pants. My new strategy is to wait until I absolutely can’t put it off any longer, and then, when I’m faced with the dilemma of peeing outside or in my sleeping bag, I sprint out.
Night 5: Karanga Camp 3930 m
I walk over a thin veneer of frost and plants in the middle of the night. I facethe distant glittering lights below, and behind me looms a Mama Kili. I am out of breath and shivering, and I wonder why some of us feel a need to be so close to nature. Perhaps it’s to make up for all those who have gone astray. But that’s as deep as my thoughts can go when I pee in the middle of the night, and I scurry back into my tent.
Night 6: Barafu Camp 4640 m
Tonight I do not wake up to pee. Instead, I wake up at 11:40 to put on all of my layers and talk myself into climbing up to the top of one humongous slab of rock. More about that night coming up…