It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are… than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise. – Henry David Thoreau
The one thing I will always remember about living on Mount Kilimanjaro for seven days and nights is the clouds. Every night at sunset I took my mug of hot cocoa out to a suitable rock and watched the changing clouds up close. I felt they were calling me in some strange way. Connecting me to nature and to myself.
Although I’ve done a lot of hiking over the years, I have never spent an entire week living on one single mountain. It was a rather surreal experience. Every camp site we stayed at was at an angle reminding me of what we had climbed up thus far and what remained. Every night sleeping in the tent, I’d put my boots at the end of my sleeping bag to keep my body from sliding down.
Yet, what I will remember the most about life on Kilimanjaro is the clouds. The never-ending, floating, swirling and changing shapes and colors as the sun set over the magical, whimsical clouds.
There is nothing on earth like floating high above the evening clouds on Mount Kilimanjaro. My friend Neha described the fluffy clouds like cotton candy. To me, the clouds reminded me of making fresh whipped cream, spiking and cresting high along the edges of a cold bowl as I beat it vigorously with a whisk.
My favorite time of day on the mountain was sunset when nature was at its finest hour, the golden hour as the sun dipped below the horizon casting glowing light upon the powderpuff clouds. I often sat there on my rock feeling like I was flying, soaring high above the earth in some kind of heavenly splendor.
“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky”. – Rabindranath Tagore
I could have stayed outside for hours, watching the spell of glistening stars light up the evening sky and the Milky Way splash the darkness with white. But once the sun disappeared the cold set in. I layered up inside my sleeping bag and laid my tired body to sleep. Another day had passed on the mountain. Another day unplugged, and far away from civilization with nothing but me and the stars.
Author’s note: This post is part of a series on my recent trip and climb of Mount Kilimanjaro, to read all posts click here.