Kilimanjaro on Tuesday as our team was walking away from the mountain.
We descended off Mount Kilimanjaro, hiking out the last 11 or so miles and coming down another 6,000 vertical feet to the Marangu Gate. It went from the 30s at Hrombo Hut when we awoke before sunrise to the 80s as we exited via the rain forest this afternoon. During our 6 1/2-hour trek out we saw monkeys eating and playing in the trees. It was another blessed day in His creation.
Pastor Mosha, his wife, and an evangelist from his church met our team at the gate. They welcomed us and congratulated everyone on an excellent climb.
We traveled for one hour by the trekking company's bus from Marangu back to Moshi with our guide Yusuf and most of his crew. In all, we had a group of 23 guides and porters. We met with them upon returning to our Moshi hotel. Each member of our team spoke, thanking the guides and porters for all they've done for us these past seven days.
I talked about how most of them had been with our Mission: Kilimanjaro 2007 team and reminded them of the day on the mountain four years ago when we photographed each man. I said Climbing For Christ members have been praying for them since: for protection as they worked on Kili and provided for their families, and for their hearts. Each of these men are Muslim.
Yusuf then spoke about our team and how we follow God — and how most people he takes on the mountain do not believe in God. “It will be hard to see you go because, to me, you are like family,” Yusuf said.
The team is eating dinner tonight at Yusuf's house with his family, capping what has been a sweet time with our friends in this part of Tanzania. But there's no rest for the weary: we have to be out of our hotel at 4 a.m. Thursday for a 6 a.m. flight to Malawi and the next phase of Mission: Kilimanjaro 2011.