The Kibo Huts are the last stop before the summit. To get there, on day three, we had to hike through the Alpine Desert. We started out the day hiking with all of the friends we had made along the way. It was great for two reasons: I had come to be a big fan of the people we had met, each person having such an interesting story, and secondly, because we were in a large group, we were allowed to walk faster than we had any other day. The theme for hiking Kilimanjaro is pole pole, or slowly slowly – not my hiking style. I am used to hiking with a purpose, with vigor – get to where you are going and all that. Honestly, for me, the slow pace was the hardest part of the hike. But I digress.

Our surroundings shifted once again, this time to a desert landscape. We were in a completely open valley . The horizon was painted with different shades of brown and blue and white. The area was nicknamed “the Saddle,” as it was low, flat, and surrounded by mountain peaks. The winding, open path gave us an excellent view of the peak of Kilimanjaro. I know I have said it before but Kilimanjaro truly is gorgeous, especially with the clouds rolling in on a dusty, unreal, almost alien like landscape. I think that will be an image that sticks with me forever.

We made it to the camp in about 5 hours. The shift in the altitude was amazing. For the first time in the hike, I found myself slightly winded. It was the weirdest feeling, as if every movement I made was very exact. Although I felt physically fine, not in the least bit tired, I began to get nervous about the next days hike to the summit.

Dinner was super early that night and included a plan for our midnight wakeup and hike to the top. We asked about a million questions about gear, times, food, plans … literally anything and everything we could think of. Everyone was extremely patient, thank goodness. It probably was pretty common place, but I felt like I was said about a million times – now one more question …

Before I went to bed, I laid out everything I was going to need for the hike. There was a lot to put out and on. Three pants, two long sleeve shirts, one short sleeve shirt, one fleece, one base layer jacket, one massive snow jacket, gloves, poles, wool cap, wool socks, sock liners, glove liners, head lamp … I checked everything about ten times. Ahhhh it was so exciting. I could barely sleep. I went to the bathroom about a million times, one of my biggest fears was having to go on the side of the peak – where it was freezing cold and there was no coverage.

Around 11: 30 Adam came to wake us up, although it was completely unnecessary, we were up, dressed and ready to go when he walked in the room. We had some chocolate biscuits and tea for breakfast, turned on our headlamps, and headed out.