Kilimanjaro 2013: Lewis Peak Part 2

Lewis Peak Overlook

Looking south along the trail, the day couldn’t be more spectacular for hiking. Blue sky, temperature perfect, the grass and flowers still green from the spring, all was perfect for the trip. There were also just enough hikers up on this portion of the trail to enjoy the greeting and share the beauty of the day without being so many that one felt intruded on. The intermittent sighting of these folks also gave a sense of perspective and distance, as you could pick movement out on the far skylines and hills.

A few had also brought dogs, making me wish we had brought our heeler, Red, with us. One other interesting note on our fellow hikers, a high proportion of them seem to be foreign tourists. Great for them to be soaking up all Utah has to offer, but it made me wonder how many Utahns miss the sights that are only a few miles and pretty minimal effort from their homes.

lewisPeakSnowAnother advantage of this trail was the choice that forking trails gave us to either hike to the top of each hill along the way, or skirt the side for an easier hike. We decided that on the way to the peak we didn’t want to miss any views, so we went to the highest point the trail would take us. None of these hilltops were a disappointment, whether the view was Ogden Valley, Mt. Ogden, the view to the Salt Lake or Ben Lomond to the north, it’s hard to overstate the beauty of the scenery.

We had decided that to watch Sam’s exertion and blood sugar levels, we’d check each hour, and regulate accordingly. We were surprised at about an hour in to find that his reading was 72, about 8 points below a low-end normal reading of 80. There was nothing really worrying about this, except that he hadn’t felt low, and low sugar levels are often manifested by physical symptoms, which we’re counting on to give us backup warnings that he needs to regulate. Anyway, we ate some Rolo’s and immediately adjusted the plan to include half hour checks whenever he was below 80. Half an hour later he had dropped to 70, but that seemed pretty stable, so we ate some more and checked again in another half hour. This time he had risen to 90, so things were going in the right direction.

Another couple of hills, a few more hikers, and we were on the top. The hike took two hours and 45 minutes to the peak, pretty close to what we had expected. One of the things we’ve been told to expect is a very slow pace on the climb, a main method of helping acclimatization to the altitude. So we tried to slow the pace to one where we would not feel out of breath. Pretty hard to do this, we’re going to need some more practice.

In addition to hiking, the trail is accessible to mountain bikes and off-road motorcycles, and horses as well, although we didn’t see any. Mountain bikes were even fewer than the hikers, and we saw two trail bikes the whole trip, so their presence was not a problem or distraction. Mountain biking being another one of my pursuits, it looked like a great place to spend a day on the seat.

On the peak we spent about 20 minutes resting and enjoying the view into Ogden, I was hoping to see some fighters flying out of Hill AFB, but no such luck. A pair of bikers had just left when we arrived, so we had the place to ourselves other than some butterflies and a ladybug that seemed rather attached to me, as it returned a couple of times after being blown off my arm and salted nut roll.

On the way back we skirted the hills instead of summiting them, we were both getting pretty tired and shaky, Sam’s blood sugar was dropping again, so we decided to get back to the trailhead as quickly as possible. We got back around six in the evening, tired and hungry. So lesson learned for the two of us on the equipment side, bring more food! Nuts and some jerky would be good. On the rest of the equipment front, I forgot to bring a hat, but remembered a bandana, which worked as well, minus one corner of my forehead I missed with the sunscreen. The boots are also working out fine for both of us, no blisters yet, although my feet were plenty hot and tired by the time we were done.

Overall, a great hike with few problems and maximum enjoyment. Hopefully a precursor of what Kilimanjaro holds in August!