Across the Shira Ridge to Shira Camp #1

shira_plateau.jpgAbout a zillion years ago, a pair of volcanoes developed on a nearly east-west line in what would eventually become Tanzania.  These two volcanoes came to be known as Mawenzi (the eastern one) and Shira (the western one).  A third volcano, Kibo, grew up between the two older volcanoes and eventually poured lava down into Shira’s crater, filling it and turning it from a crater into a plateau.

On the second day of a typical Lemosho route trek, you make your way from the Big Trees Campground, out of the rainforest to the west of Shira into the moorland, across Shira ridge and downward to Shira camp #1 on the western edge of the plateau that used to be Shira Crater. This is a 7.5 mile, 5-8 hour hike, mostly moorland and semi-desert, in which you gain about 2200 feet to camp at 11485 feet.

shira-plateau-kilimanjaro_1366302_l.jpg

And that’s mostly how day-2 happened for us, with the only major difference that we were moving more slowly than most folks and the sun set on us again before we got to camp.  This forced us to approach camp across the partially flooded moor on a very uneven causeway constructed of moor stones.

That night I saw the most stars I’d ever seen (while getting up 7 times to pee because of the Diamox).  The stars were shocking to the point of being disorienting.  The moor was actually easily navigable at night by starlight!  Constellations were difficult to identify because so many additional stars were visible, but I was able to find Lady Cassie and the Southern Cross!

“When you see the Southern Cross for the first time, you understand now why you came this way.” Crosby, Stills, & Nash