After a couple of hours’ rest I was woken by Coleman the kitchen porter with a very welcome cup of tea. My blood sugar had risen to 30 mmol/l (almost 10 times what it should have been) and I was feeling very dehydrated and sick. I lay in my tent for another couple of hours and finally heard the others returning. All were too shattered to even speak to me except Phil, who came to check if I was OK. Several of the guides came to see how I was feeling, and it was decided that after a quick brunch, Joseph would take me down to the next camp as quickly as possible, where the lower altitude should make me feel better, as I was still looking pretty ill and shaky.
As we descended, I started to feel much stronger and we talked more about the events of the morning, as well as many other things. It was lovely to have some peace and quiet and to descend at a fast pace rather than having to wait for the group as a whole, and we got down in record time. Here’s Joseph striding through the forest. Unfortunately we were so fast that the porters were still behind us and we had to wait a couple of hours for them to arrive and pitch camp. On the way down, we saw a girl collapse, and a little later the stretcher bearers were despatched from the camp to collect her. She looked in a terrible state when she arrived in the camp, and it brought home to me yet again how lucky an escape I’d had. I also learnt that one of the WOK paragliders had successfully taken off from the summit that morning with his guide, in incredibly dangerous conditions, with strong winds, no navigation equipment (since the batteries had died) and a lot of cloud. the remaining pilots had not been able to take off (since they had some sense of self-preservation, unlike Babu) and had had to descend on foot after 2 days of being stuck at the crater rim. I was to hear a lot more about this story, and the conroversy, later when I met one of the pilots back at the hotel.
It was actually quite fun watching the porters setting up camp, as usually they’d done it all before we arrived. One of them brought me a chair and I sat in the middle of the campsite “supervising”. It was very entertaining watching all the arguments between the tent porters about where to set up the tents, each fighting to get the best spot for their “client” and arguing about how many tents you could fit in one spot. My tent porter, whose name I still can’t pronounce or remember, was one of the first to get his tent up, although the spot he’d picked was not ideal as it was on one of the slopiest bits of ground, but by this time I was very used to sliding down the tent in the night (unlike some of my companions who complained constantly about this problem).