The Albanian side of Lake Ohrid.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Pogradec, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Shkoder, Albania on May 19th!

Friday, January 29, 2021

Mt. Meru Tanzania Hike day 3... that was tough!

If you haven't already, you really should read day 1 and day 2 of this hike!

Before we get into the summit hike itself, I wanted to explain a little bit about Mt. Meru. It's a dormant volcano that had half of its cone somehow collapse 8,000 years ago. So the remaining part of the cone is what we were climbing. You make your way up and along the ridge of the cone itself, with the 2,000 meter (6,600 feet) sheer cliff walls on one side, and a steep volcanic slope on the other side.

In 1910, Mt. Meru came to life again. It erupted from October through December of that year, and a smaller inner ash cone developed. Then it went quiet as suddenly as it started, and it has been quiet ever since. The views of the newer ash cone are really interesting.

Mt. Meru is "only" 4,566 (14,980 feet) high, compared to the more famous neighbor Kilimanjaro that is 5,895 meters (19,340 feet) high.

However, Mt. Meru is a physically tougher hike, involving some technical climbing over rocks. Kilimanjaro on the other hand is more difficult because of the altitude.

So, with that knowledge, we were awakened at midnight, we had a small breakfast, drank some more water, and set off at just after 1:00am.

The group of seven international travelers had set off about 20 minutes before us. Some of them were in training to do a planned Everest climb in May. One of that group was 44 year old CNN Correspondent Arwa Damon. She was fun and interesting to talk to. And no, she has no plan to climb Everest. She acknowledged that this Meru hike was about her limit, although she would like to do Kilimanjaro another time.

Their group leader was also interesting. He has climbed Meru 7 times, and Kilimanjaro 16 times. And Everest once. 

Our new friends James and Spencer left shortly after we did. And the group of 11 Russians left at 3:00am, which was a very late start for doing Meru. 

The temperature wasn't that cold. I'm guessing around 3C (37F). But we were going to climb 983 meters (3,225 feet) over 5.7 kms (3.5 miles). It was a steep climb at altitude over some rough terrain. Anyhow, we were told to get bundled up with all of our cold weather gear.

Trudging along at 1:20am.

Ruth and our guide Mudy at Rhino Point. 
3.800 meters (12,467 feet) at 2:45am.

It was a fairly steep climb uphill, but we felt we were doing pretty good. We were too warm though. You can see Ruth has her outer coat and her wind breaker open. I wasn't even wearing my gloves most of the time!

But, it did get colder.

Looking back at Little Meru.

Taking a break.

I didn't take many photos on the way up. After all, it was dark... although we did have an almost full moon. 

Hiking higher.

Looking back at Rhino Point in the dark.

It did get colder, and there was a point where the wind picked up. It may have got down to -4C or so, and we may have regretted not having the amount of clothing that we did. Still, we will need that clothing for Kilimanjaro where it is almost guaranteed to be colder. The only part of me that was cold was my toes... a problem I have always had when we used to experience winter in Canada.

The sun is starting to rise. This photo taken at 6:30am.

The idea is to make it up to the summit for sunrise, but that wasn't going to happen for us. We must have been doing okay though. Mudy was telling us that we had lots of time. And our friends Spencer and James were still behind us, and they are much younger. 

We were beat though. The summit didn't seem to be getting any closer! There were times when Ruth looked absolutely exhausted, and I didn't feel much different. But Mudy kept telling us we were doing fine, and we kept plugging along.

Eventually, we met up with the international group who were on their way down. They encouraged us, and told us we might have another 20 minutes to go. The CNN lady told us that Meru "kicked her butt" and she has a whole new respect for the mountain. She said she was just about done.


We plugged on, scrambling over some pretty steep rocks.

As the sun rose, Mt. Meru cast a big shadow!

Kilimanjaro in the distance.
This picture gives you a good idea of the circular cone that makes up Mt. Meru.

We had climbed up along parts of that ridge in the dark!

But we are not at the top yet!

A couple of times, Ruth wanted to give up. She never actually came out and said that, but I could tell that's what she was thinking. And I was definitely beat, but there was no way I was going to quit this close to the top. Fortunately, Ruth didn't quit either.

It was 8:15am when we reached the summit.

We made it!
Does Ruth look exhausted? Well she was! So was I.

I compared it to the two other really difficult hikes we have done. One was the Santa Maria Volcano hike in Guatemala in February of 2013. That hike was definitely easier, but we had such a hard time with it because we were carrying much heavier packs, and the weather was terrible. 

The other tough hike was Laguna Ahuac in Peru in October 2019. That was also a tough hike. We think this one was just a little tougher, especially when you consider the rocky terrain. Also, we have decided that we don't want to ever do anything more difficult than Mt. Meru was!

We sat up there for a half an hour and relaxed and took some photos. We also welcomed James and Spencer a few who arrived maybe 10 minutes after us!

A beautiful view with Kilimanjaro in the distance and the 1910 eruption ash cone in the foreground.

Kilimanjaro.

The ash cone.

Posing with the sign.
Unfortunately the sun was behind us so the lighting isn't that good.

Relaxing at the top.

The sign needs to be replaced soon!

Another marker at the top.

More scenery.

But, it was time to head back down. We were already behind schedule.

We both had a minor headache which is fairly common due to the altitude. But neither one of us ever felt nauseous or dizzy, although there were times we felt a little unsteady. But the terrain and exhaustion didn't help. Fortunately, as you descend, the altitude related symptoms tend to disappear.

Now that it is daylight, we could see what we had climbed in the dark!

Taking another break at 9:45am.

Rough terrain.


"Karibu" is welcome in Swahili.

Another view of the ash cone.

Yes, we had been up there!

The other side of that is a sheer cliff.

Ruth and Mudy.

Mudy and Shabiru looked after us really well. They are your lifeline when you are on the mountain. If you have any health issues, they are strong enough to help you to the bottom. As it was, they helped carry some of our heavier gear as it got too warm for us to be comfortable. They work very hard. 




Heading back towards Rhino Point in the daylight.

Yes, we had come down this way in the dark!

Us, with the peak in the background.

We arrived back at Saddle Hut at about 1:30pm. We had hiked 11.4 kms (7.0 miles) and climbed 983 meters (3,225 feet) up and back down and it had taken us over 12 hours.

We were hungry, dirty, and tired.

But we weren't done yet.

The plan was to have some lunch, have a sleep for an hour, and then head yet another 6.0 kms (3.7 miles) downhill to Miriakamba Hut for the night. We tried arguing that with Mudy, saying that we were simply too tired, but he said to have something to eat and have a nap and see if we felt better.

Trust me, we did not want to put our boots back on!

But we did it. I wasn't in the mood to stop and take photos, we just wanted to get there. And we did. It took us another two and a half hours.

So we did 17.4 kms (10.8 miles) of rough steep hiking over a 17 hour period.

We had dinner and went right to bed. I slept for nine hours straight. I haven't done that for years!

Day 4 coming up tomorrow... the animals!

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52 comments:

  1. OMG I could feel your exhaustion!! I thought hiking down and up Grand Canyon was a big deal but your hike was much more in toughness. Congratulations Kevin and Ruth!! You made it!!

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    1. Thank you Rita! We have hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and then back out as well and yes, this was a much tougher hike, especially when you add in the altitude and lack of sleep.

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  2. Epic! Congratulations, what an experience and accomplishment!

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    1. Thank you! It certainly was and it was one that we will definitely never forget. :-)

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  3. Replies
    1. Thank you! It felt good to reach the top, now we have to do it all over again on Kilimanjaro!

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  4. I am out of breath just reading this.

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    1. Lol, well I am glad that we were able to do the hard work for you! :-)

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  5. Way to go! You 2 are tough! I like how Mudi encourages you to take it one bite at time! Looking forward the animals!

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    1. Thank you! We are pretty tough and this hike sure proved it, we don't like to give up. Mudy was great and yes, he was very encouraging and he never tried to rush us at all.

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  6. It looks tough and it looks like it really takes it out of you. Glad you made it.

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    1. Yep, it took a lot out of us but we did it and we are proud of ourselves. Now we have to psych ourselves up for the Kilimanjaro hike because that isn't going to be a piece of cake either!

      Thanks Chris, we are glad that we made it too.

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  7. Awesome! Well done! Proud of you! Those views over all those rocks. Breathtaking!!

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    1. Thank you Connie and Barry! We are pretty proud of ourselves as well.

      The views up there sure made it all worthwhile.

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  8. I am impressed. 3,225 feet elevation gain over only 3.5 miles is staggering! Hiking over the rocky and rough terrain shown in your pics makes your hike even more outstanding! Jimmy and I have hiked to 16,000' (one mile only) on Cotopaxi volcano in Ecuador, and had to stop at every zig and zag to breathe. I had the altitude headache, but knew it for what it was, so no worries; it was gone when we descended. Man, no wonder you guys were exhausted. I salute you. Don't think I could've done it. Thanks for taking us along with you! Hugs ... Nickie

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    1. Thank you Nickie and Jim! Not only was it a big elevation gain over a relatively short distance with a rocky terrain, you also have to add in the high elevation and the lack of sleep, it was definitely a tough hike!

      We have also hiked up to the 16,000' level when we were in Peru but it wasn't too bad because we didn't have to gain a lot in elevation and we just went slowly.

      It is going to be interesting to see how we do on Kilimanjaro, the hike itself is supposed to be easier terrain to hike on but of course we will have to go even higher in elevation and I think on summit day we will gain about 4000'!

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    2. Yikes! 4000' elevation gain on summit day. I hope you guys get trophies or badges! :-)

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    3. Lol, if we succeed we will get a certificate to prove that we hiked to the "Roof of Africa"!

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  9. Wow! This time I am living vicariously through you two. Awesome!

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    1. So glad that you are enjoying our pictures and posts and that we have been able to do the hike for you, lol! :-)

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    1. Thank you, we are glad that you have been enjoying the posts. :-)

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  11. Congratulations on your accomplishment. Now consider this a warm up for Kilimanjaro.
    I can only imagine the feeling of exhaustion but like everyone keeps saying it's one step at a time.
    Be Safe and Enjoy the adventure.

    It's about time.

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    1. Thank you Rick and Kathy.

      This hike was meant to be our warm up and acclimatisation hike for Kilimanjaro!

      And that one step in front of the other is exactly the way we did it, it was definitely a tough and exhausting hike but we are proud of ourselves for reaching the summit.

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  12. Congrats!!!! So excited to follow along on this particular country. While I have neither the ability or the inclination for these hikes, Tanzania is on my list for Safari.
    This is Tom/Emily in Texas btw

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    1. Thank you very much Tom and Emily! We hope you are both doing well.

      You guys would love a safari here we are sure of it. Hopefully we can give you a good idea of what it and life here in Tanzania is like once we finish with our Kilimanjaro hike.

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  13. Congratulations on your climb most impressive. You are both very brave. I am happy everything turned out well. Good luck on your next climb.

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    1. Thank you very much! Not sure I would say we are brave but we definitely are adventurous. :-)

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  14. So very proud of your accomplishment!!! What a trek!! Love the pics!! Good job you two!! That was pretty rough terrain!

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    1. Thank you very much Larry and Nancy!

      It definitely is a trek for the books and one that we will never forget! Yep, the terrain at the top was pretty rugged and with the altitude it sure made reaching the summit all that much harder. Hopefully we will find the terrain a little better, it will be the altitude that will be our main concern there.

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  15. Congratulations on a hard won hike.

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  16. WOW! I am so impressed. That was one tough hike, and I could completely empathize with your exhaustion, because in some ways our Wheeler Peak (New Mexico) summit hike back in 2013 was similar, though not quite as grueling. But the rocks and quick elevation gain, plus the altitude, had me huffing and puffing like crazy. Unlike you two, we had really not trained as we did it on a whim, and that wasn't the best strategy! I also had moments where I almost wanted to quit, but I stopped and rested and, like Ruth, kept going. We are stubborn that way. Love the photo of the two of you, looking pretty fresh! What an adventure...huge congratulations to you both!

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    1. Thank you Emily, it was one tough hike!

      Good for you guys on summiting Wheeler Peak! We had thought of doing it last spring but decided not to as it was still early in the May and pretty chilly. I bet you were so happy that you didn't quit, it is such a feat of accomplishment when you reach the summit and know that it is pretty much all downhill from there. :-)



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    2. I hope you'll put Wheeler Peak on your bucket list for another time. It is well worth doing, and after doing Meru and Kili, will not be as difficult for you as it was for us! I honestly felt like we were on the Sound of Music; the views and scenery were just to die for. If you'd like to read about our hike, here's the blog link: https://travelingtwosome.weebly.com/traveling-twosome-blog/summer-trip-to-the-southwest-wheeler-peak-summit-hike. Sure brought back some wonderful memories for me to re-read it. The nice thing about these kinds of hikes is that the tough parts fade and you mostly remember the exhilaration!

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    3. Yep, that sounds and looks like a fantastic hike and definitely one that we would love to do. Now I am regretting that we didn't do it when we were there back in May because who knows when we will be back there again. Congratulations to you both on that hike and your pictures are amazing, as were the views that you got to see.

      You are totally right about quickly forgetting the difficult parts but really remembering the feeling you got when you finally reached that summit and how proud you felt about yourself.

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  17. Unbelievable! Huge congratulations!

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  18. I am so proud of you both! Thanks for sharing your adventures!

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    1. Thank you! We are pretty proud of ourselves as well.

      We are happy that you are enjoying our adventures, we are certainly going to have more too share. :-)

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  19. UNBELIEVABLE! WHEW! CONGRATULATIONS! I’m speechless!

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  20. Congratulations on your accomplishment. This is not something on our bucket list, so it was interesting to read about it.

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    1. Thank you Erin! I am sure this hike is something that isn't on most people's bucket list, lol.

      We are glad that you enjoyed reading our posts about it. Soon we will have Kilimanjaro to conquer!

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  21. I feel for you. You're amazing. We did the top part of Mt. Evans in Colorado and thought we'd die. Rocks are bad. Our altitude was 14,252 and we didn't have enough water so got lightheaded. When we started (driving) back down we kept feeling better with every few feet. Here's our adventure.
    https://tumbleweed-jimdee.blogspot.com/2012/07/to-summit-of-mt-evans-awesome-experience.html

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    1. Thank you so much Dee!

      Yep, the altitude can really take the stuffing out of you, that is why they tell you to go pole-pole (slowly) and we really do find that that makes a huge difference. And, yes it is very important to drink lots of water and try to take really deep breaths when you are breathing.

      Thanks for the link, I actually remember reading it at the time back when you did that drive and hike. I am sure you then have an idea of what it was like for us to go about 5.5 miles and just over 3,000 feet to get to our summit on our hike at Mt. Meru. It was hard but the feeling of pride and satisfaction at accomplishing that feat quickly took over the feeling of exhaustion.

      Now the really big hike comes!

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  22. Congratulations - hard work but your smiles after the fact show you felt good about the effort. Stay safe.

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    1. Thank you very much! Yes, we were really proud of ourselves, we only can hope that we will do as well on Kilimanjaro.

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