Sunday, June 1, 2008

Reaching the top

9 of us started on Friday am - Rex and John (guides), Johnson (lab guy at hospital), Michael (security guard on our compound), Jeff, Susan, Jessica, Kristen, and I with the goal to reach the top. We reached the area to park our car at around 1 or something and then made our way to base camp. I thought I was going to have to turn around just getting to base camp, I was so short of breath, I often laid down as we stopped to catch a breather. We got to base camp, had our Maggi noodles and went to bed.

We left at 0300 to start our ascent. For various reasons, Kristen, Susan, Jeff, and Jessica had to turn around. John, went with them to guide them back to base camp. So Johnson, Michael, Rex and I were left. Although it was dark and cold, I was feeling tons better than when we walked up to base camp. I had a headlight to guide my way, Rex had a flashlight, Michael was using the light from his phone, and Johnson was using my light to help him as we went up and down and around mountains. I kept thinking we had to be close as I would see these large mountains that we were scaling or the one next to it, but Rex kept saying no, it wasn't Wilhelm. So we kept going. At one point, I looked up and saw a mountain that had been hiding behind the others and I knew that was Wilhelm, finally the goal was insight (pic on R)

We kept going, and reached the top about 20 minutes after we saw it, at 0708. Climbing to the top of Wilhelm was some of the most difficult part of the climb as it was mostly straight up on the rocks, where everything else was gradual up hills. Thankfully there weren't any clouds, so we had a great view once we got up there. The sun was behind us, so it made pictures a little hard, but the view was amazing. We grabbed a quick bite to eat, and started back.

The trip back was more challenging for me. Some of the ice had melted when the sun came up, and the dirt had turned to slippery mud. I fell on my bottom a number of times on the way back, thankfully no injuries. Doing the trail in the daylight was interesting, I could actually see what we had walked on and realized there wasn't always a lot of space on either side of the trail. But I could also see the beauty of God's creation more. There are 2 lakes near basecamp, and lots of other hills/mountains all around.

We got to basecamp around 1015 and decided to just keep going, since we had a lot of time in the day to return to our vehicle, and then make the fun ride home in our cruiser. I asked Jeff if we could stop at Burger King, he said yes, we just didn't see any (there aren't any US fastfood restaurants in our area of PNG, or maybe anywhere), we settled for some local strawberries, which were very good. I was thankful for the trip and for God's provisions of safety for us all.